BPT UPDATE: Changes to the 2019 Angler Lineup
October 22, 2018
Earlier this month, Major League Fishing released a list of the 80 anglers who will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. But over the last couple weeks, there have been a few exciting changes to the lineup.
Now, MLF is thrilled to add Anthony Gagliardi and Jeff Sprague to an already outstanding lineup of the world’s top anglers. These anglers were able to join the Bass Pro Tour as a result of Gary Clouse’s decision to fish the Elite Series in 2019 and JT Kenney’s decision to come on-board full-time with Major League Fishing as an on-air analyst.
On Saturday, Gagliardi posted his announcement on Facebook, writing, “I am excited to enter into the next chapter of my fishing career with Major League Fishing!! After 20 great years with FLW, I am ready to embark on a new journey, one with unlimited potential, and one that has the ability to bring excitement to the sport never seen before.”
Sprague also made his announcement on Saturday. He wrote, “Well it looks like 2019 just got a little more exciting! I have officially accepted an Invite to join Major League Fishing to compete in the industry changing, history making platform that will launch come the New Year! FLW has and always will be the foundation of my career and I am truly thankful for their platform. I am beyond humbled but never been so hungry. Let’s go fishing!”
Here’s a look back at the announcements from other Bass Pro Tour anglers:
Major League Fishing Pro Timmy Horton was the first pros to publicly announce their decision to compete with Major League Fishing in 2019. He has been fishing the MLF Cups since the first event in 2012, and he was the first to sign a contract after the MLF expansion was announced. In his live announcement on September 24 he said, “We believe in what’s happening, and the anglers have said, ‘This is where we want to go.’”
Major League Fishing Pro Edwin Evers has been fishing with MLF since the very beginning. On September 24th he posted on Facebook, in part, “I hope my brothers in this fraternity we call pro fishing will realize that we’ve never had a greater opportunity than we have right now, and that I’veseen more positive change in the last two weeks than I have in the past 20 years. It’s a chance for us to finally control our own destiny, and at the end of the day, you have to decide whether you want to be the bass or you want to be the shad. I want to be the bass. I’m excited about 2019 and our future fishing Major League Fishing next year.”
Boyd Duckett is the Co-Founder of MLF and he confirmed in a live interview with Bass Talk Live on September 25th that he will be participating in MLF competitions in addition to running the Pro Bass Tour Anglers’ Association (PBTAA) with Gary Klein. You can watch the full interview here:
One of the young guns on the FLW tour, Birge posted on Facebook and Instagram to announce that he would be making the switch to MLF, writing, “I believe it is what’s best for my family and I right now. We are sad to leave our FLW family but super stoked for this new endeavor and career change.”
Major League Fishing Pro Marty Robinson started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014 and now he has committed to the Bass Pro Tour. He wrote in a Facebook post, “I have chosen to fish the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour moving forward. I’m excited for the future of the sport. As the father of two boys who want to follow in my footsteps, I am proud to be one of the anglers who are willing to take this step to create what I believe will be a brighter future for young anglers everywhere. I believe with the industry-leading media coverage, unprecedented payouts, and angler leadership this is the future of true professional fishing careers.”
Skeet Reese went live on Facebook Tuesday afternoon to announce his choice to fish with Major League Fishing. He has been fishing with MLF since the beginning, and in his live announcement, he said, “For the first time in the history of our sport, we have a tournament trail that is run and operated by tournament fishermen. We are building a new future for the sport of bass fishing.”
You can watch his annoucement here:
Chris Lane has been fishing the MLF Selects since 2016 and he announced his decision to fish with MLF full time on social media. He wrote, in part, “>We have accepted the invite to participate in the MLF Bass Pro Tour and we are very excited about the future of the sport and professional bass fishing. The conservation focused catch-weigh-release format will set a new standard for tournament fishing and a great platform for future generations.”
Jason Lambert started competing in the MLF Selects in 2018. He made his official announcement on September 25th, writing on social media, “ Major League Fishing here we come. This has been a tough decision. FLW has been great to me and for my career. I owe them a lot and hate leaving lots of great people who have become like family to me. This is an exciting time for not just me but for all of Bass fishing.”
Major League Fishing Pro Kelly Jordon is another one of the original MLF pros who has been competing in the Cups since 2011. In his announcement on Facebook he wrote, in part, “The chance to join MLF full time I could not pass up. Being heavily involved from the beginning and seeing Major League Fishing grow to what it is today has been a true blessing.”
2018 World Champion Greg Hackney has been competing in the MLF Cups since the first event in 2011. He made the announcement that he’ll continue fishing with MLF, writing in part, “ It is truly an amazing time in the sport of bass fishing. I’ve been blessed to see many changes in our sport but nothing can prepare us for 2019!!! "Bass Pro Tour”. GIDDY UP.”
Alton Jones Jr.
Alton Jones Jr. made the announcement that he will be fishing with MLF on Facebook. He wrote, in part, “This has not been an easy decision as I respect both BASS and MLF. Starting in 2019, I will be fishing with Major League Fishing and competing in the BPT. Major League Fishing is giving anglers an opportunity that has never been available in the 50-year history of our sport and I believe this will elevate the sport to places we never thought possible.”
Gerald Spohrer will also be new to Major League Fishing in 2019. He made his announcement on September 25th, writing on Facebook, “Two years ago I was finally able to call myself an Elite series angler. After having my most successful season to date on the Bassmaster Elite series I have struggled with the decision to compete on another platform. Major League Fishing has presented us with an opportunity of a lifetime that will change the sport moving forward. I feel like this will present our sport to a wider range of viewers and ultimately grow our sport to be as big as it can possibly be.”
Fletcher Shryock has been fishing the MLF Selects since 2014. He made his public announcement on social media, writing, “I would like to thank B.A.S.S. for the opportunities and the platform to allow my dreams to become a reality in this sport. I’m excited and really looking forward to an even brighter future in the years to come with MLF!”
Dave Lefebre has been fishing the MLF Selects since 2016 and went live on Facebook to announce his commitment to the Bass Pro Tour. He said, “It’s a life-changer. This is monumental, what’s going on. Can’t wait to see what’s going to happen. But the time is now.”
Randall Tharp will be a new MLF angler in 2019. He made his announcement on Facebook, writing, “I have been fortunate to make a living doing something I love for the last 10 years. I believe this is the biggest and most positive thing that has happened during that time. I feel all anglers, the industry, and fans will all benefit as we take tournament fishing to the next level. I am excited to announce I will be a part of it!”
Another angler who chose to use humor in his announcement, Montgomery wrote “MLF has already had a significant impact on my career. After some lengthy conversations with myself it became obvious MLF was the place for me,” in a Facebook post. Montgomery started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014 and he moved up to the Cups in 2016.
Alton Jones went live on Facebook to announce that he will continue fishing with MLF. Jones is another one of the original MLF pros who competed in the first event in 2011. In his live announcement, he said “This is going to be huge for our sport. Everybody in fishing is going to benefit from that.” Jones also explained that the MLF format is best for the future generations of anglers, and he mentioned that he’s looking forward to competing against his son, Alton Jones Jr.
Jeff Kriet has been competing with MLF since the very beginning, since 2011, and he shared his excitement for MLF’s bright future. He wrote on Facebook, in part, “I’ve never been so excited about bass fishing!! Thanks to #Majorleaguefishing for being a leader in the sport!!! More exposure (800+ hours of television) big payouts, best fisherman!!!! Let’s get 2019 started now!! Let’s get it on!!!!”
Michael Neal started fishing the MLF Selects since 2017 and he took to social media to announce that he’ll continue to fish with MLF in 2019. He wrote, “The last 7 years of my professional career have been great, but I am really looking forward to the future. I am super proud to finally announce that I have been invited to @majorleaguefishingofficial and have accepted the invitation for the 2019 season!”
For John Murray, making the switch to MLF in 2019 was a no-brainer. He listed these two reasons in his social media announcement:
- Gary Klein, Boyd Duckett and all the board members have a vision that I’ve always shared and I believe will happen!
- I have a 9yr old ( and all his friends), the true next generation of bass fishermen who ask me every day- “Dad when are you going to fish MLF?”
Partnering up with long-time friend Mike McClelland, Lintner went live on Instagram to announce he was making the switch to MLF in 2019. He’s excited to fish the format and experience what he believes is the future of the sport.
Mike McClelland hung out over the grill with good friend Jared Lintner and said that although they disagreed on a lot of things as friends, he was excited to finally be fishing MLF full-time with his friend and all the other great guys at MLF.
McClelland wrote in an Instagram post, “I’ve been fishing professionally now for 20 years and I can honestly say I’m just as excited about starting this new adventure on the MLF Bass Pro Tour as I was when I fished my first tournament many years ago.”
Roy Hawk will be new to MLF in 2019 and he made an announcement on social media, simply writing, “Excited!! And humbled..ready to get to work!!”
Ott DeFoe and his wife, Jennie, went live on social media to announce their commitment to MLF. He said, “For us, this decision had very little to do with what the payouts or what the entry fees are going to be… What made our decision is the kind of exposure that’s being presented.” He says that’s what will grow the sport more than anything.
Scott Suggs started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014 and he made his announcement on social media, writing, “As an MLF Select Pro, I have seen first hand where they can and plan to take the sport. Their media platform is incredible and their focus on conservation will help ensure the resource is protected for our future anglers. I can’t wait for 2019. It is going to be fun, exciting and unlike anything the sport of bass fishing has seen before. It’s about to get real!”
Justin Atkins announced his commitment to Major League Fishing on September 26. In social media posts he wrote, “Well 2019 is going to be full of changes and I’m proud to say I’m going to be apart of some of them. I’ll be fishing @majorleaguefishingofficial next year! Thank you to @flwfishing for helping me start my career, that family will always be special to me!”
Cody Meyer posted his announcement on Facebook, explaining that he’s “SUPER EXCITED” to fish with MLF in 2019. He wrote, ”I am humbled, honored for this amazing opportunity and can’t wait for 2019! I want to personally thank FLW for making me the person I am today and for the opportunities they have given me! It’s time to embrace the past and ATTACK THE FUTURE! MLF, here we go!” Meyer started fishing the MLF Selects in 2017.
Brent Chapman started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014 and moved his way up to the Cups in 2016. However, his very first MLF event was the 2013 Challenge Cup. He went live on Facebook to announce that he will fish with MLF full time in 2019. He said, “My decision is not about loyalty or lack thereof. It’s about my love of this sport, the sport of bass fishing.”
Keith Poche has been competing in MLF events since 2014 and he became a full-time Cup angler in 2018. He posted a video on social media, saying, “I’vechosen and I’m going with MLF. I’m excited. It’s going to be a great ride, guys. I look forward to it.”
Jacob Wheeler started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014 and he became the youngest angler to qualify for the Cups in 2017. Wheeler published a clever video announcement on his YouTube channel. It’s a parody of LeBron James’ announcement to play for the Miami Heat in 2010. Here’s the video:
David Walker posted on Instagram, writing in part, “I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining the MLF, Bass Pro Tour next season as they embark in this historic move. Am I apprehensive about this move? Absolutely, it's a big decision for me and many others. Also I’ve made my career fishing for five fish - five of the biggest fish I can catch in a tournament day. MLF rewards numbers of fish. I get it. But what drives pros is the next challenge! As I mentioned, I’ve fished everything that has come along in the last 20 years....except MLF. And the competitor in me is ready for a new challenge, a new format, a new energy, a new era.”
Cliff Crochet is another pro who will be new to MLF in 2019. He made his decision public on social media, writing, in part, “B.A.S.S has been the only tournament trail I have known and I am for thankful to everyone there for my 9 amazing years fishing the Elite series. This decision was not easy, but I am going to fish the MLF Bass Pro Tour next year. It is going to be an exciting time fishing a new format and I am honored for the opportunity. Thank you to all my fans and sponsors for their support.
In 2016, Russ Lane started fishing the MLF Selects and he announced on Facebook and Instagram that he will commit to MLF in 2019. He wrote, in part, “Sometimes in life we get in a rut and it seems like we need a change. The last few years I have to admit that’s where I have been. The sport had gotten stale and with all of the continuous cutbacks I just lost a little bit of the desire. All of the sudden we started hearing rumors of a Major League Fishing expansion and the fans, pros and industry began to buzz. Everyone was excited because there was a chance that the sport we all love could possibly go to another level. That day has finally come and my desire to compete has returned tenfold. I’m accepting my invitation to fish against some of the best and most passionate anglers in the world on the Major League Fishing / Bass Pro Tour!”
Brandon Coulter started fishing the MLF Selects in 2018 and he announced his commitment to the Bass Pro Tour with a clever video that made us all thirsty. He shut his cooler full of ice-cold Coronas and Crockett Creek Beef Jerky to reveal an MLF logo on the lid. He wrote, “Been blessed to start my career with FLW. Then qualified for BASS and achieved my childhood dream of fishing the Bassmaster Classic. I want to thank both organizations but the time has come to move on to what I truly believe to be the future of the sport: Major League Fishing. Let’s Roll!”
Greg Vinson will be a new MLF angler in 2019 and he announced his commitment to the Bass Pro Tour on September 27th. On Facebook he wrote, in part, "When darkness gives way to light, anyone who has fished knows the feeling of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation that comes with a new day on the water and a new challenge. Today is a new day for me as an angler. I'm very excited to be a part of Major League Fishing and begin another chapter as an angler."
Mark Davis is another one of the original MLF anglers who has committed to the Bass Pro Tour. He posted a video on Facebook saying, “I’m MLF all the way.”
Jacob Powroznik made his announcement on September 28th, writing, “Well, I’m ready to jump into the next phase of my career. MLF, I’m ready to have the time of my life. I want to thank BASS for the opportunities I’ve been given. I will always be grateful.”
Terry “Big Show” Scroggins announced his decision to fish the Bass Pro Tour on social media, writing, in part, “I can’t thank B.A.S.S. and the people that make up the company enough for the platform and opportunities they’ve given me over my 16 year career. It wasn’t an easy decision and I’m grateful for everything. Thanks to my fans and sponsors for the continued support... I’m excited to see what the future holds - let’s hammer down!”
Gerald Swindle is a former MLF Select angler and he went public with his decision to fish the Bass Pro Tour on Facebook Live. He explained that he’ll always support B.A.S.S., FLW and MLF but he chose to fish the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He said it’s the hardest decision he’s ever made and he asks fans to support all pro anglers, regardless of the league they’re fishing.
Frog Fishing Legend Dean Rojas is another one of the original MLF Pros who will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour. He posted a photo on social media writing, “I am proud to announce that I will be competing on the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour in 2019! I would like to wish the best to all of my fellow professional anglers competing on the three major tours in the coming years.”
Mark Rose announced his decision to fish the Bass Pro Tour on Facebook. He wrote, in part, “After much prayer and communication with my sponsors, I wanted to announce that I will be fishing Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour next year. I am looking forward to this new chapter in my career! This is more than just a new trail, it’s an exciting new movement in our sport that I am honored to be a part of. This will also bring new outdoor ministry opportunities that I am looking forward to...my heartbeat!” Rose has been fishing the MLF Selects since 2014.
Randy and Robin Howell posted a ‘Loveseat Update’ on Facebook to share the news that Randy will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He explained, “This is another dream, another level… We’re legacy-building now.” Howell started competing in MLF events in 2012, and joined the MLF Selects full-time in 2014.
Aaron Martens went live on Facebook to announce his commitment to MLF, saying, “I couldn’t pass this by.” Martens has been fishing the MLF Cups since the first event in 2011. He says MLF's expansion will benefit all anglers.
James Elam will be new to MLF in 2019. He made his decision public on September 28th, writing on social media, “I’ve had a lot of great times and great memories fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series for the last 6 years that I will never forget. I’ve learned a lot about life and a lot about myself in that time. I’m thankful for the platform they provided for me to compete on. I have made my decision to compete on the MLF PBT in 2019 and beyond. I am ready for what the future holds and a positive change for everyone involved in the sport no matter where you fish or what you do.”
On Friday, Brett Hite made the announcement that he will be joining MLF and the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He wrote, “For the last 18 years I have fished at the tour level with B.A.S.S. and FLW. There is a lot of great things happening in our sport! I have had the stressful opportunity of making a decision on which direction to take my career. I want to thank every organization, sponsors, my family, and my fans that have been behind me all the way. After a lot of sleepless nights I have made a decision that I believe is the best for me, my family, and sponsors for the 2019 season.”
The Roumbanis’ posted a “Big Reveal” video announcement on social media. It was a clever twist on the popular gender reveal videos that you see all over the internet, but instead of pink or blue, Fred and Julie Roumbanis filled a balloon with red confetti and popped it. Fred started fishing the MLF Selects in 2015.
Big Fish Bobby Lane shared one of the cutest announcements that we’veseen yet. He posted a video with his three kids on social media, saying, “Our future is bright. We’re going to Major League Fishing.” Lane is the 2017 MLF World Champion and he’s another one of the original MLF pros who have competed in Cup events since 2011.
Takahiro Omori posted his announcement on social media, writing, “I wanted to announce that I will be fishing Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour for 2019. I want to thank all my fans and sponsors for their support over the years. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks to B.A.S.S. for giving me the opportunity to build my career. I look forward to a great future with MLF.” Omori has competed in all of the MLF Cups events.
As the co-founder of MLF, it comes as no surprise that Gary Klein will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour. He went live on Facebook to explain why he’s excited about the bright future of the sport. He said, “My vision is grand and I want to see everybody playing Major League Fishing. Think about this folks, if you’re high school football you play on a 100-yard field and if you’re in the NFL you play on a 100-yard field. That’s the game. And Major League Fishing is the game. And I want to make it accessible to everybody.”
Jonathon VanDam posted a video announcement on social media, confirming that he will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He said, “They’ve got a great vision going forward for the future of our sport and it’s something I’ve considered long and hard, and this is something I can’t turn down.”
One of the biggest names in the industry, Kevin VanDam, went live on Facebook to announce that he has chosen to fish the Bass Pro Tour. VanDam said, “It’s something that I’ve really thought long and hard about… I’ve lost a lot of sleep over what it is because the last thing I want to do is make the wrong decision or hurt the sport.” KVD has been fishing MLF since the first event in 2011 and he has taken home three MLF Cups.
Luke Clausen will be new to MLF in 2019. He showed off his sense of humor, and his photo editing skills, when he posted his announcement. Here's the meme he shared on Facebook:
Shaw Grigsby went live on Facebook to explain why he will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He said, “This is the best thing to happen for anglers that I can ever imagine happening… This is our opportunity to run the show.” Shaw has been competing in MLF since the first event in 2011.
Stephen Browning will be new to MLF in 2019. He made his decision to fish the Bass Pro Tour public on September 29th, writing on social media, “‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take’ - Wayne Gretzky,” along with the hashtags: #changeisgood and #weighemall.
Tommy Biffle is another one of the original MLF Pros who will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He announced his commitment to MLF on Facebook, writing, in part, “In the BPT we have our own destiny in our hands. I still have a passion to win and an unquestionable competitive nature. This format like no other capitalizes on the drive and competitiveness that I still have. It’s addicting, fun, and nerve racking all at the same time. I fished the first major-league fishing tournament that was held at Amistad and it was very intense and exciting. Just a great format for a bass tournament. I like the conservation aspect of it as well. The catch and release on the spot is undoubtedly the best on the fish. I have two little grandsons that I would like to see have an opportunity to make a good living fishing if that’s what they desired. This tour will allow them and many others that opportunity. I am truly honored to be apart of MLF and the new BPT tour.”
Todd Faircloth announced that he will fish the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. In a Facebook post he wrote, “After lots of prayers and much consideration, I have accepted the invitation to join Major League Fishing for the 2019 season. I feel that this decision is the best move for me both personally and professionally. I CANNOT WAIT for the 2019 season to kick off. I feel this is a very exciting time not only for the anglers but also for the fans. I am looking forward to what the future has in store for me, my family, and this sport!” Faircloth started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014.
Casey Ashley started fishing the MLF Selects in 2016 and he announced that he will fish the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He wrote in a Facebook post, in part, “Being a fan of the sport myself, I like that Major League Fishing has figured out a way to bring fans real time thoughts as the best anglers in the world break down the fisheries that you and I know and love, in different ways. Fans see the struggles and the ups & downs first hand,like we have never been able to experience in competition before. That first-hand experience is something I want to be a part of.”
Adrian Avena posted a video on social media, showing him making an announcement to a group of young anglers at his 6th Annual Youth Fishing Event in New Jersey. He explained that he has chosen to fish the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He said,
“A lot of my friends, they made that switch, and I’m not doing it to follow the leader by any means but I honestly think this is the next thing for our sport. It’s going to take fishing to the next level.” Avena will be new to MLF in 2019.
Cliff Pace will also be new to MLF in 2019. He made his decision public on September 29th, writing on social media, “I just hope the future is as good to me as the past has been with B.A.S.S. I can't thank Bassmaster enough for all they have done for me and the sport of Bass Fishing. Next year I will be fishing the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour. I wish nothing but the best for B.A.S.S. moving forward. Looking forward to 2019.”
Wesley Strader went live on Facebook to explain why he decided to fish the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He said, “I believe in my heart that it’s going to be good for everybody, all the way around.” Strader says it was a very tough decision and he won’t forget where he came from. Strader started fishing the MLF Selects in 2016.
Bradley Roy announced that he has decided to fish the Bass Pro Tour. Roy will be new to MLF in 2019. In a Facebook post he wrote, “When I was presented with this idea it forced me to make a decision. A tough one. The hardest one I can remember making in a while. Much time was spent praying and searching what path was right for me. In the end I am proud to announce that I will be competing with Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. I’m excited to see where we can take this sport.”
James Watson posted a video of himself in a Jon boat on Facebook, exclaiming that he won’t be needing a livewell next year because he’ll be fishing the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. Watson started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014.
Brent Ehrler is one of the original MLF pros who competed in the very first event in 2011. On October 1st he announced that he will fish the Bass Pro Tour. He posted a photo of his family, writing, “This family of mine is my everything, and I have been blessed to support them through a career in bass fishing. FLW was my home for 10 years, BASS has welcomed me for the last 4 years, and MLF has included me since it’s inception. I am beyond thankful to have been a part of all three organizations throughout the years and know that each have been instrumental in getting me to where I am today. That being said, in an ever-changing world, I am excited to continue my career with MLF and can’t wait to see what advancements will be made in tournament bass fishing.”
Shinichi Fukae will be new to MLF in 2019, and he announced his decision to fish the Bass Pro Tour on social media, writing, “My career has been with FLW, B.A.S.S and JB (in Japan) for the past 28 years. I would not be at where I am today without them, all of my fans & sponsors support. I thank YOU ALL!! Now I have made a decision for my future, and have been given the opportunity to fish Major League Fishing as a PBT angler. I would appreciate each & everyone of your continued support in this new endeavor.”
Jason Christie started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014. He moved his way up through the point rankings and became a full-time Cup angler in 2016. He made the announcement that he will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour, writing on social media, “Ten years, two different tours, and a lot to be thankful for. By no means was this an easy decision to make, if you know me I’ve weighed both options to no end the past few weeks. My family, sponsors, and fans all played a roll in this decision. With that being said, I’ll be fishing MLF in the future. 2019 is going to be a year for change and I’m ready for that change.”
Jordan Lee started fishing the MLF Selects in 2018 after becoming the youngest pro angler to win the Bassmaster Classic two years in a row. He made the announcement that he will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour on social media, writing, in part, “Change is often scary, but it can be a great thing. I believe fishing is moving in the right direction for all three circuits and how lucky we are as anglers to live in a time that there are opportunities for every angler and skill set. BASS gave me the platform to come up through their exceptional college program and fish my first Bassmaster Classic. After college, I qualified through the opens for the Bassmaster Elites. Another dream come true. Fast forward to history making winning the Bassmaster Classic in 2017 & 2018. Nothing will ever take those special memories or the gratitude I feel towards BASS for giving me those opportunities. I feel grateful for the friendships made, how I’vegrown as an angler, and the sponsorships that have allowed me to live out my dreams. This decision was made with my family and my future career in mind. Every angle was explored. I feel confident and excited with my decision to fish The Major League Fishing BPT Tour in 2019 and beyond! I appreciate each and every one of you for following me as I continue to live my dream.”
Justin Lucas joined the MLF Selects in 2018, and on October 1st he announced that he will fish the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. On social media, he wrote, in part, “I have always been a hardcore competitor and I thrive off competing against the very best. Moving forward I want to continue to compete against the strongest field in professional bass fishing, and given recent changes, this field now resides within MLF. Knowing that, I have made the decision to move to MLF for 2019.”
Paul Elias will be new to MLF in 2019. He posted a video on Facebook, explaining, “I received an invitation to fish the Bass Pro Tour. And I take that as a very large compliment. Ans I’m going to accept that invitation because I feel like Major League FIshing with the announcement of the Bass Pro Tour, has opened the door for all the anglers to make a better living at this sport.”
Matt Lee competed in his first MLF event in July of 2018, and on October 1st, he announced that he will be fishing the Bass Pro Tour in 2019. He posted a video on Facebook, explaining that the sport of bass fishing is constantly growing and he said, “I really think that MLF is going to take it to new heights.” He added, “It’s a little bit scary, it’s a little bit unknown, but we’re so pumped to start this new journey in 2019.”
Dustin Connell will be new to MLF in 2019. He made his announcement on social media, writing, “The decision for the 2019 season was definitely not an easy one. I started fishing the college BASS series in 2010 and at that moment I knew that was what I wanted to do. I then went on to fish the Bassmaster Opens. I had a huge break happen for me in 2015 after winning a Southern Open and I was fortunate to qualify for the Elite Series the following year. I was able to fish the Bassmaster Classic, my childhood dream. BASS has given me the platform to chase this dream. I have so much to be thankful for in my fishing career and would not be here without the support of my family, friends, and sponsors. The dream is alive and well and I'm so humbled and blessed to be living mine. My decision is based on what is best for my family and future career. I've made the decision to join The Major League Fishing BPT Tour in 2019 and for the years to come! I'm looking forward to next season and watching the sport evolve. Thank you all for the support along the way!”
Jesse Wiggins will also be new to MLF in 2019. On social media he wrote, “Gas that thing up and let’s roll! Major League Fishing here we come! Growing up fishing, all I wanted to do was see how I stacked up against some the best fishermen in the world. The Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour is loaded with talent so I’m super excited to get the invite! Thanks to Bassmaster for allowing to get my fishing career started. Hopefully this is the next step in a bright future not only for myself, but also the future of bass fishing!”
Andy Morgan posted a video on Facebook announcing that he will join the Bass Pro Tour, saying, “I’m excited to say that Andy Morgan is MLF-bound this upcoming 2019 season.” Morgan will be new to MLF in 2019.
Brandon Palaniuk started fishing the MLF Selects in 2014. He posted a video on his YouTube channel, announcing his commitment to the Bass Pro Tour. He said, “The biggest thing that I’ve been looking at is: What is the biggest opportunity for the growth of the sport, and for the 8-year-old kid that I was when I decided I wanted to fish for a living?” Watch the entire announcement here:
Ish Monroe posted a photo of his dog, Ryder on social media, writing, “So I asked Ryder what tour to fish and she came in wearing my Major League Fishing world championship jersey. Decision is with Bass Pro Shops Tour.” Monroe is another one of the original MLF pros who competed in the first event in 2011.
Mike Iaconelli was the final angler to announce his commitment to MLF before the original list of anglers was released on October 3rd. Iaconelli has been competing in MLF Cup events since the inaugural event in 2011.
His Facebook post read, in part, “As I move forward in the next phase of my career, I’m keeping THREE things at the top of my list on what’s most important and what I will be focusing on.
First, is the growth of the sport! Like many other anglers I’m SO focused on getting new people, especially kids involved in the sport of fishing! Though my new Nat Geo Wild TV Show Fish My City, I’m going to be able to reach new people on a global scale and help share my passion for fishing! Through the Ike Foundation, we are helping to get kids fishing especially kids that may have never had the opportunity to hold a rod or fight a fish!
Second it is SO SO important at this time for ALL the professional touring anglers to ban together! Now is the time for us to organize as brothers in the sport we love. We need to organize above and beyond the three leagues to create an association that will look out for the best interest of our full time touring professionals! This group will be a watchdog to help stop any of the bad practices that have happened in the past. And provide opportunities for pro angler like other athletes in other professional sports. Health insurance, retirement plans, legal representation, creating standards, and ultimately providing pro anglers a TRUE voice in their own destiny! We have to do this not only for us now, but for the next generation of young aspiring pro anglers!
And finally, is my solid support of ALL three fishing leagues! MLF, B.A.S.S. and FLW. All three have different strengths, reach people a different way, and have the ability to have a positive impact on the entire sport of fishing! I hope that what has happened in the last three weeks will be a catalyst for these leagues to keep focused on taking care of its anglers and the ultimate goal of growing the sport! I hope one day these three leagues can somehow work together to create a platform where full time touring anglers can participate in all three leagues. Or maybe eventually all three will combine to be one? But until that time, it is physically impossible to fish even two leagues in the same year. Because of that, I have to make a choice on where I will compete in 2019. And my choice will be Major League Fishing!”