RICHMOND, Va. – The fifth event of the 2022 Major League Fishing (MLF) Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Fuel Me, the sport’s premier five-fish format tournament circuit, kicks off in Richmond next week, June 16-19 with the Toyota Stop 5 on the James River Presented by PowerStop Brakes. Hosted by Richmond Region Tourism in cooperation with the Henrico Sports & Entertainment Authority, the four-day tournament will feature a field of top bass-fishing anglers from around the country competing for a total purse of more than $850,000, and valuable points to qualify for the 2022 Tackle Warehouse TITLE Presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship.
“We’re excited to welcome Major League Fishing organizers, anglers and fans to the Richmond Region,” said Jerrine Lee, Vice President of Sales at Richmond Region Tourism. “The James River is known for its world-class fishing and exciting outdoor activities. We know anglers will experience some incredible bass fishing during the tournament and we can’t wait to cheer them all.”
“This competition shows off a different side of Henrico’s sports amenities,” said Dennis Bickmeier, Executive Director of the Henrico Sports & Entertainment Authority. “From the event’s economic impact, to the Major League Fishing Festival and children’s activities, to the heavily broadcasted weigh-ins, this prestigious tournament is a boon for our entire community. We look forward to partnering with them for many years to come.”
While the James River has seen plenty of bass tournaments on it over the years, the majority of MLF experience is limited to some Phoenix Bass Fishing League tournaments, a handful of Toyota Series events and a Forrest Wood Cup event back in 2003. Powhatan, Virginia’s Cody Pike, who will be among the pros competing in this event, knows the James River better than most in the field and though he acknowledges the tournament may hit the postspawn funk, he also knows just how good it can be.
“June is a weird month where fish are getting away from their spawning thing, but we’ll probably still have some fish spawning because they spawn later in a tidal fishery than in a lake,” Pike says. “There will be a bunch of fry guarders and the frog bite should be starting down in the Chickahominy in the pads. And there should be some postspawn fish getting out on brush, so they’ll be scattered all over from drops to brush to spawning and guarding fry.”
The Potomac River to the north has long been the Pro Circuit’s staple tidal fishery. Anglers fishing in big crowds and rarely running the tide has been what fans have become accustomed to, but Pike points out that the James is a whole different animal.
“You can catch them on high water flipping a marsh bank and three hours later you’ll be looking at the bottom where you just caught one, so timing is way more crucial on the James,” Pike said. “There’s also a whole lot more water to fish than the Potomac because the Potomac is a decent-sized body of water, but it fishes real small. On the James, you’ve got 60 or 70 miles to run that’s all good water, especially if you’re chasing the tide.
“You’ll have guys go to the Chickahominy and commit to it and not chase a tide, but if you run the tide you can catch 60 fish and likely stumble across five big ones.”
In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The Top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight will advance to Saturday. Only the Top 10 pros, based on cumulative weight from the first three days, will continue competition on Championship Sunday, where weights will be zeroed and anglers will compete in a one-day shootout for the grand prize of up to $135,000, including the lucrative $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus for qualified anglers.
After four events in the 2022 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit regular season, Arkansas pro Spencer Shuffield leads the Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 732 points. Hayden, Alabama’s Josh Butler sits right behind Shuffield in second place with 720 points, while Kentucky’s John Hunter sits in third with 695 points. The reigning Pro Circuit Bally Bet AOY, Michael Neal of Dayton, Tennessee sits in fourth place with 685 points, while Favorite Fishing pro Matt Becker of Finleyville, Pennsylvania, rounds out the top five with 677 points.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. ET, Thursday, June 16, through Sunday, June 19, from the Osborne Landing, located at 9530 Osborne Turnpike in Richmond. Weigh-ins will also be held at the landing daily at 2:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to attend the morning take offs and afternoon weigh-ins, and also follow the live on-the-water action all four days of competition online on MLF NOW! beginning at 8 a.m. ET at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
As part of the event, on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19, from Noon to 4 p.m., fans are invited out to the Major League Fishing Festival at the Osborne Landing. Hosted by Richmond Region Tourism, the event will feature fans meeting and getting autographs from their favorite pro anglers that compete on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. Children are welcome to visit the Kids Zone to meet Skye & Marshall from PAW Patrol, fish for live fish in the Kids Fishing Pond, show off their artistic skills at the coloring stations, and more. Vendor booths from MLF sponsors, food, prizes and giveaways, including a FREE Abu Garcia rod and reel combo for the first 50 high school or middle school anglers, are available to festival goers. On Saturday and Sunday, one lucky attendee will play for a brand new 2022 Toyota Tundra in the Bully Dog Pick ‘Til You Win game, with runner up prizes of a new 70-inch 4K UHD Smart TV or a Bully Dog Performance Tuner. For more information on the Major League Fishing Festival, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com/Attend.
The MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Toyota Stop 5 on the James River Presented by PowerStop Brakes will feature live on-the-water coverage and a two-hour action-packed television show that will premiere on the CBS Sports Network in early September.
The 2022 season culminates with the Tackle Warehouse TITLE Presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship, where the top 48 pros in the points standings, along with the 2021 TITLE Champion and 2021 Angler of the Year, will compete for a top prize of $235,000. The 2022 TITLE will be on the St. Lawrence River in Massena, New York, Aug. 16-21, and is hosted by the Town of Massena.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.