Heavy Hitters Presented by Venmo has been rescheduled for June 7-12 and will feature all 80 MLF pros. The event will still take place in Kissimmee, Florida.
By Major League Fishing - May 8, 2020
May 8, 2020 (Tulsa, Okla.) Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today the return of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour on June 7-12 with Heavy Hitters featuring a $745,000 purse and the full field of 80 Pros. The 2020 Tour will conclude July 10-15 on Lake Champlain after five Stages. For the safety of all involved, fan events and gatherings are cancelled for the remainder of the season. This revised schedule permits MLF to deliver an additional 100+ hours of live-action sports as well as meet television production deadlines to fulfill sponsorship agreements despite the unprecedented season. On March 23rd following three successful Stages, MLF paused the Bass Pro Tour in an abundance of caution due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“After working with state, local, and Public Health officials, we feel we can return to the water for two final tournaments in 2020,” said Boyd Duckett, MLF co-founder and pro. “Fishing is an inherently socially distant sport and while we will miss seeing our fans face-to-face, the Bass Pro Tour can deliver the drama of live-action sports to fans, while participating responsibly in a phased approach to help restart the economy.”
Originally scheduled for May 16-20, Heavy Hitters Presented by Venmo will take place on Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho) and the Kissimmee Chain two weeks later than originally planned, June 7-12. No longer a mid-season qualifier, the event will feature all 80 MLF Pros in a traditional six-day, Bass Pro Tour format while still featuring an untraditional $745,000 purse and full-field payout. Heavy Hitters will serve as Stage Four toward the season-long Bass Pro Tour Points Championship, awarded to the angler with the most points at the conclusion of the season.
In addition to the traditional payout schedule based on finishing order, the biggest bass caught for each Group over the two-day Qualifying Rounds (June 7-10) will pay a $25,000 big bass bonus ($50,000 total). The Knockout Round on day five (June 11), will feature a $50,000 big bass bonus, while the Championship Round (June 12) will feature a $100,000 big bass bonus, on top of the Stage Title $100,000 prize.
In response to the shortened season, MLF revised the payout schedule for Heavy Hitters Presented by Venmo to include all 80 anglers: 1st $100,000; 2nd $40,000; 3rd $15,000; 4th $13,000; 5th $12,000; 6th $11,000; 7th $10,000; 8th $9,000; 9th $8,000; 10th $7,000; 11th – 20th $6,000; 21st – 40th $5,000; 41st – 80th $4,000. Each competitor is guaranteed a $4,000 check.
“As an angler-driven league, we worked with the pros to identify a schedule that preserves as many opportunities as possible for our guys to compete and receive a paycheck during this unprecedented time,” said Jim Wilburn, MLF President and CEO. “Our media-centric format and exceptional production team enables us to create significant exposure for our field with over 550 hours of original programming via live stream, Discovery Channel, CBS, CBS Sports, and Sportsman Channel.”
As the economy begins to reopen in Florida, Experience Kissimmee looks forward to welcoming Major League Fishing to their community.
“We are thrilled to welcome back Major League Fishing to Kissimmee for another successful event,” said Kissimmee Sports Executive Director John Poole. “While the destination is following the Florida governor’s plan to reopen in phases, we are grateful to have the opportunity to provide both live and recorded television content for viewers across the country to continue experiencing Kissimmee from home.”
The 2020 Bass Pro Tour will conclude with the Evinrude Stage Five Presented by Covercraft July 10–15 on Lake Champlain hosted by Experience Vermont. The abbreviated five-stage Bass Pro Tour encompasses the race to qualify for the 2021 REDCREST Championship and win the overall 2020 points race. After the General Tire Stage Three Presented by TrueTimber on Lake Fork, Ott DeFoe leads the field with 227 points, while reigning Champion Edwin Evers sits near the Elimination Line at 29th place with 146 points.
“I’m glad that we’re able to return to fishing at this point,” said DeFoe. “Five Stages are better than three and the fisheries that we have ahead of us are outstanding fisheries that will make for great contests. Despite being only five Stages, this is a very diverse schedule and we will take what we can get in what has turned into an unprecedented season.”
“I’m excited to get back to fishing,” said Evers. “It’s in our blood and for me to have the National Anthem go off and get back in the boat and compete against the best guys in this race for a REDCREST qualifier will be fantastic. Over these last few weeks, this competition has been missing in my life!”
With the remainder of the 2020 season cut short due to the worldwide pandemic, MLF continues to work with 2020 host Bass Pro Tour hosts – Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the City of Ogdensburg – for future events. As announced last month, Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees will serve as the competition waters for REDCREST 2021 hosted by Tulsa Sports Commission, February 23-27, 2021 with the inaugural REDCREST Outdoor Expo February 26-28, 2021.
About the Bass Pro Tour
The Bass Pro Tour began in 2019 and features 80 of the best professional anglers in the world, including Kevin VanDam, Edwin Evers, Aaron Martens, Mike Iaconelli, Jordan Lee, and Skeet Reese. Each Stage includes six days of competition using the Major League Fishing, catch-weigh-and-immediately-release format, where every bass over a variable minimum weight, which is two pounds on Lake Eufaula for Stage One, toward a cumulative weight total for the day. Variable minimum weights are determined by fishery akin to a golf course handicap. The field of 80 anglers is divided into two groups (Group A and B) of 40 to compete in the Qualifying Round where a two-day cumulative weight total determines the winners. The winners of Groups A and B receive automatic berths to the Championship Round and the anglers finishing in places 2-19 (38 total) advance to the Knockout Round on day five. The Top 8 from the Knockout Round join the winners in Groups A and B (field of 10) to compete in the Championship Round and a shot at the $100,000 top prize and Stage Title.
Each of eight Stages of the Bass Pro Tour have the following payout schedule: 1st $100,000; 2nd $42,000; 3rd $30,000; 4th $24,000; 5th $18,000; 6th $16,800; 7th $15,600; 8th $14,400; 9th $13,200; 10th $12,000; 11th – 40th $6,000; Big Bass Daily $1,000; Big Bass Overall $1,000.
In addition to the economic impact on a host community, Major League Fishing showcases the region through their award-winning, live and linear programming. Each Stage of the Bass Pro Tour is broadcast live on the Major League Fishing app, MyOutdoorTV (MOTV), and majorleaguefishing.com, totaling more than 325 hours of original programming. Fans can follow the fast-paced nature of the MLF format as it unfolds on the live leaderboard through “SCORETRACKER® updates.” Highlights from each Stage of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour will air on Discovery Network beginning in July 2020 and Sportsman Channel in early 2021.
“MLF offers the strongest broadcast presence in the industry to fans and sponsors,” said Jim Wilburn, President and CEO of Major League Fishing. “And with these lakes planned for this coming Bass Pro Tour, we know 2020 will be our best year yet as we continue to capture a broad audience of both longtime fishing fans and those new to the sport, thanks to our fast-paced, fan-friendly format,”
About Major League Fishing
Founded in 2011, Major League Fishing (MLF) brings the high-intensity sport of competitive bass fishing into America’s living rooms on Outdoor Channel, Discovery, CBS, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network, Sportsman Channel, and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). The Bass Pro Tour consists of eight events and a championship streamed live on www.MajorLeagueFishing.com and MOTV.
In late 2019, MLF acquired FLW which expands their portfolio to include the world’s largest grassroots fishing organization, including the strongest five-fish format professional bass fishing tour, the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, as well as the Toyota Series, Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine, and Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI, and High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing.
For more information on the league and anglers, visit www.MajorLeagueFishing.com and follow MLF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.