ONAMIA, Minn. – Major League Fishing is set to visit Onamia, Minnesota, and Mille Lacs Lake next week, Sept. 10-15, for the seventh and final regular-season event of the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour season – the Bally Bet Stage Seven at Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota.
The six-day event, hosted by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, will showcase 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, including bass-fishing superstars like Kevin VanDam, Ott DeFoe, Jacob Wheeler, Jordan Lee, and reigning REDCREST Champion Bobby Lane. They’ll be competing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable points in hopes of qualifying for REDCREST IV, the Bass Pro Tour championship.
While Mille Lacs Lake has seen plenty of fishing tournaments over the years, this event will mark the first time that MLF will hold an event on the storied fishery. 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 will be filmed for broadcast on Discovery Channel in November.
“I’ve done well on Mille Lacs a couple of times in September,” said James Elam, a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based pro who will be among the 80 anglers competing. “I believe the bass will be transitioning throughout the lake, from shallow, mid-depths, and deep. An angler just needs to figure out which program is going on.
“I can also see the largemouth deal playing a role here because of our format,” Elam continued. “I will check that bite out for sure. But, I believe smallmouth will be the primary fish targeted. I believe we could see smallmouth in excess of 6 pounds caught.”
Fellow competitor, Berkley pro Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Alabama, echoed Elam’s smallmouth sentiments.
“I’m going to be targeting smallmouth – I believe mainly with a drop-shot rig,” Lucas said. “It’s no secret – I’ll have a Berkley (PowerBait) MaxScent Flat Worm tied on. That’s the thing about Mille Lacs, though, you never know. Tournaments have been won there on crankbaits, football jigs, swimbaits – all of that stuff can be a player.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve been there, but it is the perfect venue to wrap up our season,” Lucas went on to say. “It’s an amazing lake with giant smallmouth – I can’t wait to get back out on the water.”
After six events down in the 2022 Bass Pro Tour regular season and just one event remaining, reigning 2021 Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) Jacob Wheeler again sits in first place in the 2022 AOY Race with 459 points, while the 2020 AOY Jordan Lee sits behind Wheeler in second place with 394 points. Dayton, Tennessee’s Andy Morgan resides in third with 373 points, while Lorena, Texas’ Alton Jones currently sits in fourth place with 356.5 points. Florida pro Randall Tharp rounds out the top five with 352 points.
Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. CT from Eddy’s Resort, located at 41334 Shakopee Lake Road in Onamia. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the Resort, beginning at 4 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW! live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
On Championship Thursday, Sept. 15, from 4:30-6 p.m. MLF will host a Celebration Event for fans of all ages, inviting fans to come out and celebrate with the professional anglers from the Bass Pro Tour as they crown the champion of the Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota. The first 50 youth anglers 10 and under in attendance will receive a free Pure Fishing Shakespeare Kid’s Rod and Reel combo. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.
The Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota will feature anglers competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement 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 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 REDCREST IV, the Bass Pro Tour championship, which will be held next March on Lake Norman in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round 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 second through 20th place from both groups advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advances directly to Thursday’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. 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 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLF NOW! will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota will premiere as a two-hour episode at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Nov. 19 on Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of tournament competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Covercraft, Favorite Fishing, Garmin, General Tire, Googan Baits, Grundéns, Guaranteed Rate, Humminbird, Lowrance, Luminox, Mercury, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak, Nitro Performance Boats, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Power Stop, Rapala, Starbrite, Toro, Toyota, Wrangler, Yellowstone Bourbon and Zoom.
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.