The Major League Fishing trail will allow anglers to weigh as many legal fish as they catch, but competitors must begin each event without the benefit of user-generated GPS waypoints or practice. Anglers also will fish on surprise venues, meaning they will have to make on-the-water adjustments to catch bass.
"It is like nothing we've ever done or seen at this level, and I can assure you the anglers are excited about this," Texas pro Gary Klein said.
Under the new format, 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.
The Outdoor Channel will air the events, but will not focus only on the fishing aspect of the circuit.
"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 CEO and President Roger Werner said. "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.
The list of competitors includes:
• Tommy Biffle
• Denny Brauer
• Mark Davis
• Boyd Duckett
• Brent Ehrler
• Edwin Evers
• Shaw Grigsby
• Greg Hackney
• Tim Horton
• Michael Iaconelli
• Alton Jones
• Kelly Jordon
• Gary Klein
• Jeff Kriet
• Aaron Martens
• Mike McClelland
• Ish Monroe
• Takahiro Omori
• Jason Quinn
• Skeet Reese
• Dean Rojas
• Marty Stone
• Kevin VanDam
• Byron Velvick
Klein, a former Bassmaster Angler of the Year, and 2007 Bassmaster Classic champion Duckett were instrumental in putting together the innovative format.
"The format is exciting, and the television production will be top-notch," Duckett said. "Our goal was to put together a group of the most influential anglers in the business, and we have done that.
"They understand we're offering something that will enhance the way the public views our sport."
Reese, a former Bassmaster Angler of the Year and Bassmaster Classic champion, called the tournament trail "a new frontier."
"What your grandfather did, your father did, and what I did last week in tournament fishing has been around for decades," heaid. "If you want to see a new, fun and exciting format that will take competitive fishing to a new level, then you've got to check out Major League Fishing."
Jim Wilburn, founder and chairman of the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Winnercomm production company, has been named general manager of Major League Fishing. Don Rucks, a former B.A.S.S. general manager, will serve as the league commissioner.
"I've been involved for many years with sporting events of all kinds, and I can honestly say that I've never been more excited about a project than I am about Major League Fishing," Wilburn said. "We have a great concept, and we have the enthusiastic participation of the best anglers in the world. I believe this is going to be extraordinary."
A weeklong event – the Major League Fishing Challenge Cup - will be held later this year. The event will be broken down into episodes and aired in the second quarter of 2012 on the Outdoor Channel.