“Three… Two… One… Lines in.”
That’s what you hear the boat officials say during every Major League Fishing competition, right before the anglers jump into action and cast their first line. Competition Crew Chief Dan Hayes says the “lines in” rule is all about creating equality.
“When they say, ‘Lines in,’ that allows all the anglers to make their first cast, and everybody gets to start fishing at the same time,” Hayes said.
When you’re watching all of this unfold from the comfort of your home, it only takes a couple hours to find out which angler wins the competition. But in reality, that competition takes an entire day.
There are three periods that each last two-and-a-half hours, and there’s a 30-minute break between each period. Hayes says that break allows the anglers to come up with a game plan.
“They all go into this competition not knowing what the water’s like, what they’re going to see. They’re prepared [for] what they think they’re going to be fishing, and they get out on the water, and all the sudden, they realize that everything they thought is wrong or different.” said Hayes. “The break gives them the opportunity to re-evaluate their strategy, to be able to re-tie different lures, put rods up, get rods out, do all kinds of different things.”
During a competition, boat officials give the anglers SCORETRACKER updates, so they know how they stack up against the other anglers. Officials also periodically let anglers know how much time is left in the period.
“When we get close to the end of the period, we start letting that angler know, ‘You’ve got five minutes… You’ve got three minutes… You’ve got two minutes…’ And then when we get down to seconds, we count down to lines out,” Hayes said.
That’s when some of the most intense moments happen in Major League Fishing. Hayes says oftentimes, an angler is reeling in his final catch of the period while the official is counting down to “lines out”.
“The fish has to be inside the gunnel of the boat before the boat official calls ‘lines out’ in order for that fish to count,” Hayes said.
If an angler can’t get the fish into the boat in time, the catch doesn’t count. However, Hayes says the angler can still get a two-minute penalty if he doesn’t handle that fish properly. If the official calls a fish landing or releasing violation, the angler will have to face the penalty at the start of his next period.
During the three elimination rounds, anglers with the highest weights will advance into the Sudden Death rounds. There are two sudden death rounds, with anglers racing to hit a ‘cut weight’ determined by producers on the day of the competition.
Of course, the competition looks a little different during Sudden Death. The MLF Commissioner and Executive Producer will look at the weights from the elimination rounds and decide on a cut weight based on how much bass the anglers caught.
“Once anglers reach that Sudden Death cut weight, the competition is over and those anglers move forward to a Championship round,” Hayes said.
Only a fraction of the anglers who started the competition will advance to the Championship, and only one will take home a trophy in the end.
Do you have any questions about the MLF rules? You can read though the rules on the MLF website, under the “About MLF” section.