GEICO Selects Filming in Arkansas
Home Base is Benton, but Venues Feature 'Different Regional Lakes'
by Randy Coleman
BENTON, Ark. – Major League Fishing, which is this week filming its second GEICO Select event, is tossing its anglers what amounts to a diet of Major League Baseball curveballs. During a scheduled six-day competition based in Benton, anglers have found themselves fishing in the Eastern Arkansas delta and the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.
And maybe more surprises are in store.
The Bass Pro Shops Major League Fishing Challenge Select began on Monday, June 16, and will conclude on Saturday.
“Man, y’all said there could be surprises. And you weren’t kidding,” said Major League Fishing angler Scott Suggs, who lives in Bryant, a town within a 10-minute drive of the MLF headquarters hotel in Benton.
Suggs, referring to his competition day on a lake that was considerably east of Little Rock, said, “When we’re in the hotel parking lot, we all wonder where we’re going. So when we got on the road, I was watching the way we were going, and I was wondering where we were headed. Then when our truck passed by the ramp to the Arkansas River and kept going, I said, ‘Well, I’m screwed.’”
Major League Fishing Commissioner Don Rucks has been warning anglers all week that they should “expect the unexpected” regarding competition venues.
“Because there is always a possibility that we could return to a place we’ve fished on a previous day, we’ve decided not to publicly announce exactly where we’ve fished until our filming is done,” Rucks said. “But I will say this. The bodies of water our anglers have fished so far have tested their flexibility as anglers.”
Rucks said, “We’re hitting different regional lakes. But I can say I’m not surprised to say that these anglers, despite the surprises, have figured out how to catch them.”
The GEICO Select events represent the first-ever expansion for Major League Fishing. The Summit Select features 24 anglers that are not regular competitors in the Major League Fishing Cup series. The anglers are: Scott Ashmore, Brent Chapman, Jason Christie, Keith Combs, Ott DeFoe, Kurt Dove, Paul Elias, Todd Faircloth, Randy Howell, Andy Montgomery, Cliff Pace, Brandon Palaniuk, Keith Poche, Marty Robinson, Mark Rose, Casey Scanlon, Morizo Shimizu, Kevin Short, Fletcher Shryock, Michael Simonton, Scott Suggs, Gerald Swindle, James Watson and Jacob Wheeler.
The Challenge Select events will be televised beginning in January 2015 on Outdoor Channel, America’s Leader n Outdoor TV. Web-based extended-time shows will be available, however, beginning in the fall 2014.
As in all Major League Fishing events, competing anglers are not allowed to practice or research venues. The anglers are chauffeured to their fishing sites and are not told the actual location until they reach a pre-event staging area.
Select events will utilize the innovative Major League Fishing format, in which anglers are allowed to weigh all the scorable bass they catch. The bass are immediately weighed after they are caught, then released back into the water. In Major League Fishing competition, anglers know where they rank in the standings at all times via MLF SCORETRACKER LIVE leaderboards in their boats. Anglers are not allowed to practice before events and were notified of the Challenge Select location two days before the start.
Whereas the on-the-water format is the same, Select events are staged differently. Six anglers from the Challenge Select will advance to compete in the companion Major League Fishing Challenge Cup, which will feature the original 24 MLF anglers. Similarly, six anglers from the recently filmed Bass Pro Shops Summit Select will compete in Major League Fishing’s Summit Cup.