JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. – Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, is set to continue the fifth season of the Bass Pro Tour, the top level of professional bass fishing, with their second regular-season event of the year this week on Douglas and Cherokee lakes – the U.S. Air Force Stage Two Presented by Power-Pole.
The six-day event, hosted by Visit Jefferson, will showcase 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, including bass-fishing superstars like Kevin VanDam, REDCREST 2023 Champion Bryan Thrift, Jacob Wheeler, Jordan Lee, and Blaine, Tennessee’s own Ott DeFoe. They’ll be competing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters All-Star event and REDCREST, the Bass Pro Tour championship.
“For two lakes to be so close, look alike, and have similar topography, they fish vastly different,” said DeFoe, who has more than $2.7 million in career earnings. “Cherokee has more largemouth than ever, but it’s mainly a smallmouth fishery. Douglas has some smallmouth in it, but the largemouth are dominant.”
Another difference is the current cycle of the two lakes, with Cherokee fishing exceptionally well and Douglas being more challenging than it has traditionally been.
“The numbers are very good on Douglas, but the size is down compared to how it was in years past,” he said. “Cherokee has been great the past several years and is full of solid 3-pounders.”
The late March setting of this date is about perfect, according to DeFoe.
“It’s about a week earlier than what I would say is the best time of the year to fish in Tennessee, but the fishing should be excellent,” he said. “The fish will be in a prespawn pattern, and we’ll see guys catch them with jerkbaits, crankbaits, swimbaits, and vibrating jigs. There should still be a good deep bite, and the ‘Damiki Rig’ will also catch some fish.”
Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. ET each day. The Qualifying Round (first four days of competition) will be held on Douglas Lake, with anglers launching from the Dandridge Ramp, located at 100 Public Drive, in Dandridge, Tennessee. The Knockout and Championship Round will be held on Cherokee Lake, with anglers launching from the TVA Boat Launch, located on Renfro Road in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the launch locations, beginning at 4 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
On Championship Saturday, March 23, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to come in to celebrate the top 10 and crown the U.S. Air Force Stage Two Champion at the Trophy Presentation. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.
The U.S. Air Force Stage Two at Cherokee and Douglas Lakes Presented by Power-Pole will feature pros competing using the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, with each angler’s five (5) heaviest bass per day tallied as their day’s weight. Anglers strive to catch their heaviest five fish each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the live scoring SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.
The 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour features a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, fishing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship, held March 13-17, 2024, on a fishery to be announced.
The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the top 20 anglers from each group advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 40 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In Thursday’s final day Championship Round, weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.
The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action live on all six days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the U.S. Air Force Stage Two at Cherokee and Douglas Lakes Presented by Power-Pole will air as two, two-hour episodes starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Sept. 16 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with re-airings on the Outdoor Channel.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ark Fishing, ATG + Wrangler, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, Daiwa, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Grundéns, Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Power-Pole, Rapala, Star tron, T-H Marine, TORO, Toyota, U.S. Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon, Yo-Zuri and Zoom Baits.
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.