2019 MLF Bass Pro Tour Framed Around a 'Family Friendly' Schedule

MLF pro Randy Howell with his wife, Robin, and his sons, Laker and Oakley
MLF pro Randy Howell with his wife, Robin, and his sons, Laker and Oakley

By Joel Shangle - November 6, 2018

Keith Poche’s daughters, Isabella and Ava, dressed up for Halloween
Keith Poche’s daughters, Isabella and Ava,
dressed up for Halloween

TULSA, Oklahoma – It was a telling moment as Major League Fishing Reporter Aly Akers chatted with MLF pro Keith Poche before a competition day at the Challenge Cup: Halloween morning, and Poche knew he would be missing the evening’s trick-or-treat festivities with his daughters.

“I’m glad to be here fishing, but I’d love to be home tonight for Halloween,” Poche confessed.

That’s been a common occurrence for years for Poche and the other 79 anglers on the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour: tournament schedules have frequently forced them to be on the road on holiday weekends like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July.

“We haven’t necessarily had tournaments fall right on the holidays, but our previous schedules have almost always had us traveling on every major holiday weekend in spring, summer and early fall,” says 25-year veteran Randy Howell. “We’ve frequently had to travel on Saturday or Sunday of those holiday weekends to get to the venues to start practice on Mondays. Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July – it feels like I’ve always been driving somewhere on those weekends.”

But when Gary Klein, Boyd Duckett and MLF Bass Pro Tour league officials drew up tournament dates for 2019, they were adamant about framing both the eight regular-season events and four Cup competitions around important family holidays. The result: a family-friendly schedule that has the anglers home on Easter weekend, Memorial Day weekend, Father’s Day weekend, Mother’s Day weekend, the Fourth of July, and Halloween.

“The schedule was something we wanted to address from the get-go,” says Klein. “As professional anglers, we really didn’t appreciate having to travel on holidays, so (holiday travel) just wasn’t going to happen. Right from the start, we knew that we weren’t going to put our schedule where guys would have to leave their families on the holidays to get to practice.”

The family-focused schedule should also improve the anglers’ travel experience overall. Instead of being on the road during the most hectic weekends of the year – AAA estimates that over 140 million Americans travel on Memorial Day, Labor Day and Fourth of July weekends alone – they can delay their long drives to the week after those busy spring, summer and fall holidays.

“Everybody travels to see family during those holiday weekends, so we’ve always had to deal with extra traffic and more people trying to get somewhere,” Howell said. “This will be a nice break for all of us. Not only to be with our families but to avoid some of that heavy holiday traffic.”

Here's a look at MLF's 2019 Schedule:

2019 Major League Fishing Calendar

The MLF Bass Pro Tour events are in yellow. Those events will be streaming live on MajorLeagueFishing.com and there will be opportunities for you and your family to interact with your favorite anglers. The MLF Cup events are in blue. The Cups are shot in the dark, which means they will not be open to the public and the results will be kept a secret until the episodes air on television.

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