Boyd Duckett – MLF Format Details

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DuckettBlogThe first MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING event is going to take place soon. And it would be putting it mildly to say that the anglers are excited about what’s going to take place. Major League Fishing, which is a partnership venture between Outdoor Channel and 24 of the world’s best bass anglers, has been an evolving process. The evolution started the first day we discussed the idea and the format and rules are still being tweaked.

The basics are in place. The initial event will be the Challenge Cup – six outstanding days of competition, all carrying an elimination element. We have 24 anglers total, and the 24 will be divided into groups of eight. Days 1, 2 and 3 will involve eight anglers (each day) competing on an area of water that will be disclosed to them the day before the event. It will be different areas each day. Each day, four of the eight anglers will advance.

That leaves 12 anglers still in the competition. On Day 4, six of the 12 anglers will compete, with two advancing. Same deal on Day 5 – the other six anglers will compete and two will advance. In an interesting twist, MLF will introduce a cutline for Days 4 and 5. The first two anglers to reach the cutline win the day.

At this point, you have a four anglers still in the game, and those anglers will compete for the championship on Day 6.

There will be leader boards available at all times to the competing anglers. If I’m fishing, I’ll know where I stand. There will be boat judges riding with every angler. Penalties will be enforced by making anglers sit out the action for the amount of time allotted for his penalty.

And all bass caught (so long they are what MLF calls “score-able” size) will be recorded. There’s no five-fish limit here. When a bass is caught, the boat judge will determine the weight, record it into the electronic system, and the angler will release the bass back into the water. We’ve done a test. This process can happen in 30 seconds.

Those are the basics. But the fine tuning is not done – and it shouldn’t be. Since this is a new venture, we want to make sure we’re not stubborn about how we implement our rules and penalties. And this week we decided to change direction on one of them.

We initially said that MLF was not only waving encroachment rules, we were going a step further by telling anglers it’s just fine if they want to ease up on another angler and fish beside him. This invoked elements of NASCAR. Our logic was that this is a made-for-television project, and we want to make this interesting for viewers. What could be more entertaining that “rubbing rails” on the water. And at first, our anglers loved the idea.

But last week we did a final check with the anglers. We asked this question: Is there anything about our format that makes you uncomfortable? And overwhelmingly, we decided that even though it would be awfully entertaining to see the world’s top anglers fishing right on top of each other, that element of our game simply wouldn’t promote good sportsmanship. So we’re changing direction.

Here’s how we believe we will address it. An angler in competition will have the right to drop a buoy and claim a spot. As long as his buoy is in place, the angler must stay with 50 yards of the buoy – and no other angler will be allowed to enter the space. Other anglers will be allowed to cast inside the 50-yard radius, but they cannot drive their boats into the area. If they does, they will be penalized.

If the angler dropping the buoy chooses to leave the area, the buoy goes with him. It’s only his territory temporarily.

I mention this for two reasons. One, I wanted you to understand that we’re trying to offer an innovative product when we produce a Major League Fishing event. But on the other hand, we we don’t want to this to be gimmicky. We want sportsmanship to be part of this deal, because it is the real deal.
And it’s coming soon.