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Good news comes for fishing tournaments

Last month, two of the biggest names in bass fishing tournaments made a major announcement that they’d be joining forces. And this month the papers were signed to make the deal official. Major League Fishing has acquired Fishing League Worldwide.

MLFLW, LLC (the newly created entity that purchased the assets of FLW) is owned 100% by MLF which in turn is owned 50% by The Outdoor Channel, Inc., and 50% by Pro Bass Tour. Tournaments are broadcast on Outdoor Channel, Discovery, CBS, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network, Sportsman Channel and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV.

As they say in show business, and bass tournaments are certainly part of that industry, the show must go on.

FLW tournaments, including FLW High School Fishing, YETI College Fishing, T-H Marine BFL, and Costa Series Circuits, will continue as scheduled into 2020 and beyond.

Some of the tournament names have been rebranded and the format altered a little, but the biggest change is there’s been an additional three regions added to the Costa Series.

Now with eight geographic regions, they hope to attract even more competitors to take part in the tournaments. FLW has a tournament scheduled on the Potomac River, one of their regular hunting grounds for big bass, over the weekend of September 10 to 12 next year.

More good news: The entry fees have been reduced for both the BFL and Costa Series boaters and co-anglers. It’ll be interesting to see how things may change down the road.

MLF has been a leader in the field of bass tournaments with their conservation-conscious format. Each fish is weighed immediately and then released, which makes for a dynamic competition where every scorable bass counts toward the cumulative weight and the fish are returned to the water in the quickest time possible.

FLW has been doing things the old way, with anglers ferrying around the top-five bass in the live well until the official weigh-in.

Current research has proven that post-release mortality is a significant issue. MLF’s approach to scoring is being integrated into FLW’s TITLE championship. Better post-release mortality results will help keep tournaments going over the long term.

BASS announces new tournament

Kayaking is incredibly popular, so it makes sense that kayak fishing is catching on, too. It’s becoming so popular that BASS has taken notice and is now getting in on the action.

BASS has formed a new tournament trail for 2020 that’s aimed specifically at kayak fishermen. This new tournament — the Huk Bassmaster BASS Nation Kayak Series powered by Tourney X presented by Abu Garcia will begin on Logan Martin Lake in Alabama on March 5.

Other venues include Lake Fork in Texas, Chickamauga Lake in Tennessee, Mississippi River in Wisconsin and Clear Lake in California. Nothing around here, but it’s the inaugural year. If this tournament proves a winner, there might be additional locations added to the lineup in future years.

In keeping with the green aspect of kayak fishing, not to mention the lack of a live well, BASS will forgo the standard weigh-in procedure and instead anglers will practice catch-photograph-release to determine standings.

Each angler will photograph their fish on a measuring board that measures down to a quarter of an inch. Data will be submitted via special mobile app provided by TourneyX. The angler with the longest five-bass limit will win. To ensure honesty, each angler will be issued a measuring board with an identifying mark that is specific to each tournament.

Those rules are pretty standard fare for tournaments that rely on photograph submissions. Hobie developed a similar kayak bass fishing tournament called the Bass Open Series using iAngler last year.

I’ve never tried fishing from a kayak, but my kids enjoy it. Every summer, Greenwell State Park hosts a kayak fishing camp if you’ve got a young one who might like to give it a try.

Just like when buying a boat, the sky’s the limit for how tricked out you want you fishing kayak to be. But you really don’t need much to get started, and buying a used kayak will set you back only a couple hundred dollars.

It’s not too much trouble to make your own modifications if you’re a do-it-yourselfer. Sometimes you can even find a used kayak of the fancy fishing variety for a steal.

Pickerel tournament coming soon

While bass fishing is winding down for the season, it’s not time to put away your fishing rod yet.

The Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland invites one and all get outside and enjoy some winter fishing during their annual pickerel championship.

The tournament runs Dec. 1 through the last day in February. Since it’s a leap year, that means you get an extra day of fishing to try to catch the longest three-fish stringer recorded over the duration of the tournament.

Prizes will be awarded to the winner of the open division (longest three-fish stringer caught by any tackle allowed by the rules on any vessel type) and the angler who catches the largest pickerel by fly, by youth (17 and younger) and by kayak/SUP.

Random prizes will be awarded to participants throughout the tournament and, new this year, anglers can submit their largest perch (white or yellow) and largest crappie for other fun prizes.

You can view all the rules and sign up for the tournament at www.ianglertournament.com/2019-20-cca-maryland-pickerel-championship. Click on the yellow “Buy Now” button to be redirected to Paypal to make your registration payment. A one-year membership to CCA is included in the registration fee for non-members. Children do not pay a registration fee but must be a CCA member. That’s just a $10 payment for dues.

Tournament rules stipulate you can fish for pickerel in any Maryland or Delaware waters. A popular hot spot in Southern Maryland is St. Mary’s Lake located a few miles south of Leonardtown on Camp Cosoma Road.

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