The REDCREST title will be decided by a five-day format that will be played out on two different pools of the Upper Mississippi River.

LA CROSSE, Wi. – The “playing field” for the inaugural REDCREST (Aug. 21-25) meanders for more than 40 miles as the crow flies between the towns of Genoa and Trempleau, Wisconsin, covering an almost never-ending maze of sloughs, channels, flats, islands, backwaters, wing dams and bass-holding structure and cover on the Upper Mississippi River.

There’s no shortage of fish – both largemouth and smallmouth – and hence, no shortage of potential strategy in the five-day competition to determine the first REDCREST champion in MLF Bass Pro Tour history.

The 2019 REDCREST title will be decided by a five-day format that will be played out on two different pools of the Upper Mississippi: one 30-man Shotgun Round, a 30-man Elimination Round, and two 10-man Knockout Rounds on Pool 8; and a 10-man Championship Round on Pool 7, where the winner leaves America’s Dairyland with the inaugural REDCREST trophy and a $300,000 payday.

Shotgun Round (Aug. 21)

The entire field of 30 qualifying anglers will compete in the Aug. 21 Shotgun Round, to be held on Pool 8 of the Upper Mississippi River between the towns of Genoa and Dresbach, Wisconsin (which lies right across the river from the host city of La Crosse).

As was the case during the Bass Pro Tour regular season, weights from the Shotgun Round will be carried forward to the Elimination Round, so finding productive areas and patterns early – and building a strong weight on SCORETERACKER® – will be key.

“My goal in the Shotgun Round is to catch enough weight to be over double whatever 20th place in the round is,” admitted Michael Neal, who finished fifth in REDCREST points during the regular season. “Fish are just in so many areas here and the pool is so big, you can’t possibly find everything you need to find in a day and a half of practice. You’ll need to spend more time during the Elimination Round exploring, but you can’t really do that if you don’t catch ‘em in the first round. It’s important, you almost have to catch them in the Shotgun Round to set yourself up for the Knockout Round.”

Michael Neal with an Upper Mississippi River smallmouth, which he hopes to catch plenty of come the REDCREST Knockout and Elimination Rounds. Photo by Joel Shangle

Elimination Round (Aug. 22)

The field of 30 returns to Pool 8 for a single Elimination Round. Weights from the Shotgun Round will be added to weights from the Elimination Round, and the Top 20 combined weights advance. The bottom 10 will be eliminated.

Knockout Rounds (Aug. 23, 24)

The remaining 20 anglers will be split into two groups of 10, with seeding determined by Elimination Round results. Weights are zeroed. The Top 5 anglers from each Knockout Round advance to the Championship Round, so the two days of Knockout Round competition are do-or-die, one-day sprints to load SCORETRACKER® for three straight periods.

“The Knockout Round is when everybody is going to knock their lights out,” Neal said. “You’ll have to go everywhere on that river where you feel like you can get a bite, and catch every fish you can possibly catch. You better have lots of good places where you can really get into ‘em or you won’t be fishing on Sunday.”

Championship Round (Aug. 25)

Weights will go back to zero and competition for the REDCREST 10 will move upriver to Pool 7 between Dresbach and Trempealeau. Most of the field will have spent some practice time on this pool, but the Championship Round will be more of a case of finding fish and identifying patterns on the fly.

“I assume everybody will start practice on Pool 8 – I know I will, and then depending on how comfortable I get with what I find there, that’ll determine how quickly I go to Pool 7, if I go at all,” said Ott DeFoe, who won a tour-level event out of La Crosse in 2016. “The good part with that whole river is that you can practice on Pool 4 and figure out a pattern what will work on Pools 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. They do each have their unique parts – Pool 7 has Lake Onalaska, which is kind of its own unique deal – but at the same time, it’s the same river and the same water. What works on one (Pool) typically works on the other.”