TULSA, Okla.— When the first winner in MLF Bass Pro Tour history is decided Feb. 3 in Kissimmee, Florida at the league’s inaugural event, that angler will leave Toho Marina with both a first-of-its-kind trophy and a $100,000 payday.

Payout structure for the MLF Bass Pro Tour was approved by a majority vote of the league’s 80 anglers – a process that was historic in its own right. A handful of different payout structures were discussed, but the anglers ultimately decided on a pay schedule that awarded $100,000 to the winner of Bass Pro Tour events, and heavily weighted the Top 10 instead of distributing more money down below the Top 40.

“It’s special for that guy when he holds up a six-figure payday for winning,” said MLF veteran Ott DeFoe. “When you see the winner of the first event hold up a check for first place it’s going to be the same thing you see on other leagues. Major League Fishing was very open to hearing possible restructures of the payout.

“The way it was restructured, it really put the emphasis on the Bass Pro Tour where all 80 guys fish all season long. That’s what the majority of the guys wanted.”

Building around a no-entry system
One of the key factors in the payout structure was the elimination of entry fees. For the first time in 80 anglers’ careers, they didn’t have to pay a sizable entry fee to compete, something that MLF co-founder Gary Klein points to as a historical moment.

“Never in the history of this sport have any of us as professional anglers, been able to compete on a circuit without paying an entry fee,” Klein expressed. “(MLF) is still paying back $5.9 million to the anglers, with no entry fees. That just goes to show the power of the group, and that our league is angler-driven.”

Randy Howell – a 23-year pro – is a big fan of the new way the Bass Pro Tour payout is constructed.

“It’s revolutionary honestly,” Howell explained. “It’s never been done (before), and we’ve never had this opportunity in all of professional fishing. It’s always been the norm to hustle and scrape together $48,000 in entry fees to try and pay up front before you even made a cast.

“What’s so great about this set-up is that the anglers are kind of in control of their own destiny. We’re all working together for that common goal, which is to save each other money and to help us all make each other money.”