Bass-fishing tournament series debuts

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The Outdoor Channel and 24 competitive bass fishing anglers have come together to form Major League Fishing.

This new sports organization will feature competitive bass fishing events designed to bring high-intensity challenges to the competitors and entertainment, as well as insight, to audiences.

Under the new format, anglers will compete with no limit on the number of “legal” fish they can weigh and will not be allowed to begin the events with stored, user-generated GPS waypoints. The anglers will have access to a real-time leader board in their boats, showing them where they rank in the standings at any given time. In another twist, anglers will not be allowed any on-site practice time before events.

Major League Fishing will offer sports fans a unique way to view bass fishing competitions, with production features that go beyond just fishing to focus on the personalities, struggles, strategies, conflicts and emotions of the anglers,” Outdoor Channel chief executive and president Roger Werner said in a statement. “Outdoor Channel is proud to be involved in this project from the ground floor and we see an outstanding future in this partnership.”

Major League Fishing competitors include household names in the pro fishing industry, including seven Bassmaster Classic champions, eight Bassmaster Anglers of the Year and a three-time FLW champion, in addition to a host of other multiple-time winners of major tournaments. Gary Klein, a former Bassmaster Angler of the Year, and 2007 Bassmaster Classic champion Boyd Duckett were instrumental in putting the format together.

Jim Wilburn, founder and chairman of the Tulsa, Okla.-based Winnercomm production company, was named general manager of Major League Fishing. Don Rucks, a former B.A.S.S. general manager, will be the league’s commissioner.

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