Major League Fishing has reached an agreement to acquire Fishing League Worldwide, the fishing tournament launched in 1989 and purchased by Irwin Jacobs in 1996.
MLF’s business plan always included reaching all levels of grassroots fishing, said MLF cofounder, pro angler and partial owner in the business Boyd Duckett. (The league is 50 percent owned by 13 anglers who also compete.)
“I won’t say we’ll take over the fishing world, but we’ll be by many times largest,” Duckett told Trade Only Today of the potential merger in late September. “FLW, they are the largest in grassroots business with about 15,000 unique individuals that participate in their tournaments from college to pro levels. So it’s the perfect match for
a feeder system for the pros, but it’s well beyond that. It helps us control the future of the sport, from an environmental impact and conservation impact perspective.”
All remaining 2019 events on the FLW tournament schedule will be contested as previously organized, with no changes to competition days/times, venues, payouts, etc., according to MLF.
That includes the Costa FLW Series Central on Lake of the Ozarks and 2019 Costa Series Championship on Lake Cumberland; five remaining T-H Marine Bass Fishing League Regionals that range from the Potomac River to Grand Lake; the Nov. 8 BFL Wild Card; and a handful of High School and College Fishing events scheduled for October and November.
FLW High School Fishing, YETI College Fishing, T-H Marine BFL and Costa Series circuits will continue in 2020 and beyond, with the addition of three regions in the Costa Series, and reduced entry fees for both BFL and Costa Series boaters and co-anglers. The most significant alteration will occur at the top of the FLW professional tournament ladder.
The Pro Circuit will operate on a six-day competition schedule that features FLW’s traditional five-fish-limit format on Days 1 through 3, transitioning to the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release of every bass format on Days 4 through 6 — which include two 10-angler Knockout Rounds and a final 10-angler Championship Round.
As is the case in all rounds of the MLF Bass Pro Tour, MLF-appointed in-boat officials will manage the competition and weighing of fish on the final three days of the FLW Pro Circuit.
Payouts for the Pro Circuit will extend down to 75th place, representing a payday for half the field, a 12-percent increase in the number of anglers earning a check.
The new Angler of the Year Championship will serve as the signature final event of the FLW Pro Circuit, taking the place of the FLW Cup. The most successful anglers (based on competition results) in the FLW Pro Circuit will qualify to compete in the MLF Bass Pro Tour. Details on qualification standards have not been released.
“It has been our mission since my father, Irwin Jacobs, purchased FLW in 1996 to bring the highest quality of tournaments to anglers, sponsors and fans around the world,” said FLW marketing president Trish Blake in a statement. “By joining forces with Major League Fishing, the sport of professional tournament fishing will be taken to new heights for anglers across the world at all levels.”