REDCREST VIEWER'S GUIDE: What to Watch for Saturday, Dec. 21 on Discovery (7 to 9 a.m. ET & PT) - Major League Fishing

REDCREST VIEWER’S GUIDE: What to Watch for Saturday, Dec. 21 on Discovery (7 to 9 a.m. ET & PT)

Image for REDCREST VIEWER’S GUIDE: What to Watch for Saturday, Dec. 21 on Discovery (7 to 9 a.m. ET & PT)
Greg Hackney is part of the remaining field of 10 pros vying for a Top-5 finish in the second Knockout Round at REDCREST Presented by Venmo. Angler: Greg Hackney.
December 19, 2019 • Joel Shangle • Bass Pro Tour

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Over the course of the inaugural season of the MLF Bass Pro Tour, Greg Hackney expressed a blunt assessment of his experience in the fledgling league’s first full year of competition.

“This is the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” Hackney admitted in the days leading up to REDCREST Presented by Venmo, the end-of-season championship for the 80-angler league.

Strong words for an angler who owns a World Championship trophy, an Angler of the Year award, and a position in the Top 10 of bass fishing’s all-time leading money winners. But as Hackney prepared to join nine other anglers to compete for one of five spots in REDCREST’s Championship Round, the Louisiana pro reiterated his valuation.

“This is fixing to be a battle,” Hackney said as he waited for his Knockout competition to begin on Pool 8 of the Upper Mississippi River.

And a battle is exactly what viewers will see when they tune in to the Knockout Round 2 of REDCREST this Saturday on Discovery Channel (7 to 9 a.m. in the Eastern and Western time zones). With five spots in the REDCREST Championship Round up for grabs, here are some of the key things to watch for when you tune in:

Next Five In?

Hackney joins a stout field of 10 that includes Mark Rose, Brandon Palaniuk, Brent Ehrler, Zack Birge, Randall Tharp, Fred Roumbanis, Todd Faircloth, Casey Ashley and Takahiro Omori. At stake: a position in the final round, and a shot at the $300,000 first-place payday and the title of first-ever REDCREST champion.

As seen Dec. 14 on Discovery, half of the Championship Round has been filled. In Knockout Round 1, Michael Neal, Mike Iaconelli, Jacob Powroznik, Edwin Evers and Greg Vinson had fished their way into the finals, establishing a potential weight range for the Knockout Round: between 46 (Evers at No. 5 with 46 pounds, 10 ounces) and 63 pounds (Vinson the winner of the round with 63-10).

All 10 anglers in Knockout Round 2 had put up strong numbers in one of their two previous rounds, either blowing it out in the first round (Birge with 81-15) or coming on strong in the second round (Rose with 67-8).

How those anglers respond to the conditions on Pool 8 will be the decider, and a key to the episode.

Zack Birge working near the bank as he battles for a spot in the final round. Photo by Phoenix Moore

The Playing Field

Birge had put up impressive numbers in his Shotgun Round, putting 50 fish on SCORETRACKER® to build a 50-pound cushion between himself and the Elimination Line. The Oklahoma pro stepped off the gas in the Elimination Round, using that competition day as a bonus practice day, staying away from his best fishing spots to search for other opportunities in different parts of Pool 8.

His strategy worked fine: Birge weighed in only 19 fish in the Elimination Round, but still finished atop the Top 20 with 117-1 for two days.

Of even more interest is the amount of room Birge is left with in the Knockout Round: he had shared his best stretch of Pool 8 for most of the week with Neal (who advanced to the Championship Round the day prior) and Palaniuk. With Neal now safely in the finals, Birge theoretically had the freedom to fish that water in the Knockout Round with less pressure.

Whether that stretch of water holds up for one more day is a major storyline this Saturday.

How, When, Where to Watch

Major League Fishing’s REDCREST Knockout Round 2 Presented by Venmo premieres Saturday, Dec. 21 on Discovery Channel. Viewers on both the East and West coasts (Eastern and Pacific time zones) can watch the episode premiere from 7 to 9 a.m.