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Lake life

MLF anglers ready for center stage

Louisiana MLF angler Gerald Spohrer

You don’t have to be a bass fishermen to enjoy what’s about to happen starting next week on Lake D’Arbonne, Caney and Bussey. In fact, you don’t even have to be a fisherman.

It’s the biggest event to ever hit the outdoors in north Louisiana, maybe the whole state. Pay attention.

Major League Fishing (MLF) is set to kick-off the fourth season of its Bass Pro Tour, the most competitive circuit in professional fishing, on our three area lakes Feb. 5-10, with the first regular-season tournament of the 2022 season, the B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One Presented by Power-Pole

Hosted by Discover Monroe-West Monroe, the six-day event will showcase 80 of the best professional anglers in the world, including bass-fishing superstars like Kevin VanDam, Ott DeFoe, Jacob Wheeler, and Louisiana pros Gerald Spohrer of Gonzales and Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part.

They will be fishing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable points in hopes of qualifying for REDCREST 2023, the Bass Pro Tour championship.

You don’t even have to own a boat to keep up with the action, which is one of the truly remarkable things about this tournament series.

Here’s the deal: Each day’s General Tire Takeout Ceremonies will be held at the lake’s launch ramps, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all takeoff and takeout ceremonies. There won’t be any fish to weigh in because the anglers weigh them in the boat, witnessed by a certified MLF marshall and released right back into the water where they were caught.

Fans can see fish caught, lost, released and all the action by following the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com on their favorite electronic device. The tournament will feature the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, in which anglers catch as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. The tournament is also being filmed for broadcast later this year on the Discovery Channel. Some folks will choose to also watch by boat, but PLEASE, if you do that, be courteous and give these anglers plenty of room. It’s a huge deal for them and our area.

By watching you’ll not only be able to know what they caught them on and where they were catching them, but also all the techniques and tricks the anglers are using and all the thoughts going through their minds as they talk and fish throughout the event.

For fans going in person, takeout ceremonies will be at the D’Arbonne State Park boat ramp, Hooks Marina on Caney and the Main Boat Dock ramp at Bussey Brake.

“We are proud to host this international event in North East Louisiana in cooperation with the Louisiana Office of Tourism,” said Alana Cooper, Discover Monroe-West Monroe President and CEO. “We are excited to bring in some of the best fisherman to experience Sportsman’s Paradise.”
Officials in Union, Morehouse and Jackson are also excited to be working to make the visitors feel welcome.

This event will mark the first time ever that an MLF tournament has taken place in this area. With no prior history on the fisheries and local experts predicting peak timing, Louisiana pro Gerald Spohrer is expecting an extremely fun and competitive tournament.

“This is going to be such a fun tournament to start the season,” Spohrer said. “Although these fisheries are all in the same region, they are all very different. D’Arbonne is probably going to be the toughest and most challenging fishery we face. The lake is definitely the most difficult to navigate – you have to idle a lot because there are so many stumps and other things. It eats up a lot of time anytime you try to get off the main channel and to the shoreline. There are plenty of big fish that live there, but it’s not a place where you’re going to get a lot of bites.

“If you make it through the Qualifying Rounds, Caney should be really good,” Spohrer continued. “Caney is very easy to run around and it has a lot of grass – some real healthy hydrilla. We’ll see some good fish in the Knockout Round.

“Bussey Brake in the Championship Round is also going to be very interesting,” Spohrer said. “I’m not real sure how that is going to play out. There has never been a tournament there, but I know there are some big fish there. It should be good – hopefully it will be real good.”

Spohrer said that he expects lipless and squarebill crankbaits to be strong players for tournament competitors – he’ll have a Nomad Design Vertrex lipless crankbait and a Nomad Design Atlas squarebill tied on – but that the key to an angler doing well will be having confidence in their area.

“Guys are just going to need to keep their head down and fish, knowing that they may not get a lot of bites,” Spohrer went on to say. “It’s not going to be uncommon to go an hour or so without a bite. But it takes so much time to move – if a guy can find a pattern, put his head down and minimize the move time, I think they will do well.”

Here’s everything else you need to know to be an instant expert on this exciting event:

  • As part of the event, fans will also have the opportunity to come out and meet the MLF pros up close and personal at the Major League Fishing Festival, part of the North Delta Boat & Outdoor Show at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, Sat., Feb. 5, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sun. Feb. 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite Bass Pro Tour anglers, register for the “Pick ‘Til You Win” game with a top prize of a 2022 Toyota Tundra or a 70-inch 4K UHD Smart TV, visit the MLF Kids Zone to catch a live catfish out of the fishing pond, meet characters from the PAW Patrol courtesy of Kid Casters, and enjoy live concerts from local musicians each day. For more information on the Major League Fishing Festival and the North Delta Boat & Outdoor Show, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
  • Prior to the Major League Fishing Festival at the Monroe Civic Center, MLF will be hosting a kickoff event with kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Louisiana on Friday, Feb. 4 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The kids will be the first to get a chance to catch live catfish in the Kids Fishing Pond and win trophies and certificates. Special surprise guests are also scheduled to appear.
  • The event will feature anglers competing with a 1-pound, 8-ounce minimum weight requirement on Lake D’Arbonne, and a 2-pound minimum weight requirement on Caney Creek and Bussey Brake for a bass to be deemed scorable. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.
  • The format: The Bass Pro Tour features a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, competing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2023 championship.

The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Lake D’Arbonne on Saturday and Monday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round on Caney Creek Reservoir, while the winner of each group advances directly to Wednesday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed and the remaining 38 anglers compete to finish in the top 8 to advance to the Championship Round on Bussey Brake. In the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all six days of competition from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Followup television coverage of the event will premiere at 7 a.m. ET, Sept. 3 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.

For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Whew! That’s a livewell full right there!

See, I told you it was a big deal.


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