How to Enter Your First BFL - Major League Fishing
How to Enter Your First BFL
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How to Enter Your First BFL

What you need to know to get started in tournament fishing
Image for How to Enter Your First BFL
Mount Mansfield rises in the background just before takeoff on Champlain. Photo by Jody White.
December 2, 2015 • Jody White • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Fishing a Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) event is a great way to get started in tournament fishing. By and large, entry is an easy process for anyone. Below, we’ve endeavored to answer the common questions asked by first-timers.

If you have questions that aren’t answered below, a great way to get more information is to call MLF at 270.252.1000 or call your tournament directorThe full slate of signup dates can be found here.

How do I choose a tournament?

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to choosing an individual tournament or division to fish. Most people fish divisions that are close to home for the obvious reasons of keeping the cost down and fishing on familiar water.

Some anglers, particularly those with more experience, will choose a division based on which Regional they want to compete in that fall. If a Regional is held on a fishery where the angler has experience, the odds go up for qualifying for the All-American.

Finally, you might consider choosing where you want to fish by the quality of the fishing or to get into some better weather. Though tournaments on Okeechobee, Guntersville and the like are always in high demand and can be difficult for co-anglers to get into, the chance to fish a tournament on a new and exciting body of water can be pretty fun.

How do I enter?

The only requirement to enter is to purchase a Premium Membership with MLF. You can join online or over the phone whenever you want to enter.

You can enter online at MajorLeagueFishing.com, but the recommended way to register for your first tournament is to call 270.252.1000. That way, customer service can assist with any extra questions that arise during the process.

MLF does not take deposits on BFL events. Be prepared to pay in full at the time of registration.

What is a guaranteed boater or guaranteed co-angler? 

Often called “linking,” if a BFL boater and co-angler both sign up before the priority deadline date and each one lists the other’s name and membership number on his entry, both are guaranteed entry into the tournament as long as they both show up. Guaranteed boaters and co-anglers are no more likely to fish with each other than anyone else in the tournament, but it eliminates the uncertainty around getting in, which sometimes arises if there are more co-anglers than boaters or when fields fill up.

What does it mean to get waitlisted?

For a co-angler, being waitlisted means that more co-anglers than boaters have registered for an event. Co-anglers on the waitlist are called up and confirmed as boater entries are taken. In the event that an angler does not make it off of the waiting list, he or she will receive a full refund.

On the boater side, the waitlist only applies when the tournament exceeds the maximum field size. If there are more boaters than co-anglers, MLF policy is to pair the extra boaters together and send two boaters in one boat.

When do I check-in?

Once you’ve signed up and the tournament approaches, the last step is to check-in online or by phone the Thursday or Friday immediately before competition. It’s a final step to let MLF know you’re definitely fishing, and it means you’ll be entered into the pairings.

What happens at the pre-tournament meeting?

The pre-tournament meeting gives anglers a chance to hear the rules of the tournament, sign their liability releases, hear what time and where boat check and takeoff will be, buy raffle tickets, and meet the boater/co-angler they will be fishing with.

This is the time for co-anglers and boaters to discuss a meeting location for the morning of the event. It’s also a good time for co-anglers to ask their boaters if they should prepare for any particular type of fishing.

The meetings are mandatory unless you have a representative to stand in and give your cell phone number to the angler you are paired with. Tournament directors can represent multiple anglers, but it’s best practice to be at the meeting.


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