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The Bass Pro Tour is the centerpiece of expansion plans for Major League Fishing.
The Bass Pro Tour is the centerpiece of expansion plans for Major League Fishing.

New Bass Pro tourney highlights Major League Fishing expansion

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A new Bass Pro Shops-sponsored tournament is at the forefront as Major League Fishing rolls out expansion plans starting in 2019.

With support from the Springfield-based outdoor retailer and Stan Kroenke’s Outdoor Sportsman Group Inc., MLF is launching the Bass Pro Tour. The schedule is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks for the 80-angler, eight-event tour with a championship round that promises larger payouts to the winners, according to a news release. The size of the payouts were not disclosed in the release.

"Bass Pro Shops has proudly supported MLF from its inception because we believed in its mission to elevate the sport of fishing. We're very excited to take the next step and help showcase this great sport to every household in America," Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris said in the release. "We truly believe this partnership will create many positive and significant new opportunities for kids and families, professional anglers and the sport itself.

“Equally important to us is leveraging this popular platform to showcase the importance of conservation and promote responsible fishing practices."

Programming by the MLF led viewership on Kroenke’s Outdoor Channel during the first quarter. The programming’s top demographic is men ages 25-54, according to industry reports. MLF airs two-hour TV segments of bass fishing competitions.

With the Bass Pro Tour, MLF is aiming to grow its audience further.

“Everyone in the fishing industry should appreciate the new path that Outdoor Sportsman Group and Mr. Morris have helped pave for the sport's future because of their own personal beliefs toward conservation and the responsible use of our fish and water resources,” MLF co-founder Boyd Duckett said in the release.

The Bass Pro Tour will employ MLF’s “catch, weigh and immediate-release” fishing policy, which allows participation on more bodies of water because of its conversation-friendly approach, officials say.

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