In bass fishing, a talented angler can catapult from weekend hobbyist to professional. “If you’re good enough to compete, you can make it to the top level,” says Michael Mulone, senior director of events and partnerships for Major League Fishing. “And now, with FLW and MLF combined, we’ve got the platform for the everyday guy to make it to the top.”
MLF sponsors and broadcasts a series of bass tournaments known for its SCORETRACKER technology, high-quality broadcasting and its unique “catch, weigh and release” format.
FLW has developed a slate of grassroots bass fishing competitions ranging from high school to amateur to the FLW Pro Circuit, whose top ten anglers qualify for the MLF Bass Pro Tour. The acquisition will allow the strengths of both initiatives to merge to create a force in the world of bass fishing, with access points for everyone from the teenaged beginner to the long-time boat owner looking for a new challenge.
The 2020 schedule for the newly expanded organization is already set with a whopping 207 events, and Mulone and his counterpart from FLW are setting their sights on booking new tournament destinations for the 2021 slate.
The strength of the new partnership, which was announced in November, should enrich their efforts to draw a variety of settings that fit the needs of each type of tournament. The format and size of the tournament field dictates the fishery that is needed, Mulone says, but every MLF event must one or more suitable bodies of water, sufficient hotel rooms and a strong Internet connection that will support SCORETRACKER and the MLF network’s live stream broadcast.
“You combine the quality of the fishery, the quality of the hotels nearby and the cell service, and that’s why we’re raising the bar for tournament competition which raises the bar for destinations and everybody else,” Mulone says. “So this is more about getting heads in beds; it’s about raising the bar for the destination, because the quality of what we do is so different.”
Considering the wide-ranging success of both organizations, uniting the two can only strengthen the events, broadcasts and opportunities for fans, anglers and sponsors, Mulone says. The fastest-growing competitive category for FLW in recent years has been high school and college fishing, and MLF was drawn to the idea of giving these young anglers more exposure and filling the pipeline with competitors dreaming of fishing at the professional level.
“Our business plan always included reaching all levels of grassroots fishing,” says Boyd Duckett, MLF co-founder and president of the Professional Bass Tour Anglers’ Association.
“FLW does it best with the Tour and grassroots tournaments; their reputation in competitive bass fishing is remarkable and their culture has always been pro-angler, which makes this the perfect opportunity for both organizations. We couldn’t be more excited about FLW: their team, anglers and sponsors.”