CLEWISTON — Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament organization, will kick off the 2021 Pro Circuit season next week, Feb. 11-14, with the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers at Lake Okeechobee presented by 13 Fishing . In its 26th season, the circuit formerly known as the FLW Tour will feature 163 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals competing across six regular-season events, each with a top award of up to $135,000. The field will also compete for valuable points to qualify for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship, and the opportunity to compete for up to $235,000.
This first event of the 2021 season – hosted by the Hendry County Tourism Development Council and Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort – offers competitors a total purse of more than $900,000 and will mark the 22nd time the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit has visited the southern Florida fishery.
The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit last stopped at Lake Okeechobee in 2018, where Florida pro Tim Frederick grabbed the first major win of his career. Frederick targeted spawning fish around the Spoil Islands, pitching a Texas-rigged Strike King Perfect Plastics Ocho to sack up 85 pounds, 4 ounces over four days of competition.
Clewiston’s hometown pro Brandon McMillan compiled a whopping 106-pounds, 10-ounce over four days of competition in 2011 and still holds the record for heaviest winning weight in a Pro Circuit event on Lake Okeechobee. The biggest bass ever weighed in Pro Circuit competition at Lake Okeechobee were both 11-pound hammers – one weighed in by former pro Bobby Curtis (2005) and one by pro Shin Fukae (2011).
“I’m excited to kick off the 2021 season this year, especially at an event close to home,” said pro Laramy Strickland of Bushnell, Florida. “This is my favorite time of year to fish, so I’m definitely looking forward to getting the ball rolling for this event and riding that momentum into the next.
“I’ve only fished three major tournaments on Lake Okeechobee, and they were Toyota Series events and BFL’s. This will be my first year to fish there with the Pro Circuit,” continued Strickland. “I’m pretty familiar with this lake, although it does change year to year. With the cold front we are having right now, it should be setting up for a pretty good tournament next week.”
Strickland said he believes multiple different Florida baits and tactics are going to work next week on Lake Okeechobee.
“Anglers should be able to cast and flip and do whatever they want to do, really,” he continued. “It’s just a matter of finding a wave of fish that’s pooled up on the lake. I expect some big limits, with it taking somewhere around 75 to 80 pounds to win this tournament.”
Laramy said his excitement for this first event pales in comparison to his anticipation for the season as a whole.
“I think the 2021 Pro Circuit schedule is really good this year. We pretty much follow the spawn early on, then will get to compete on some pretty fun lakes with multiple opportunities to catch them shallow or deep later in the season.”
Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit anglers will be joined this season by 20 MLF Bass Pro Tour anglers, including Florida pros Bobby Lane and John Cox, as well as Wesley Strader, Justin Lucas and Cody Meyer.
Anglers will take off at 7:30 a.m. ET Thursday through Sunday from Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina and Resort, located at 920 E. Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston. Weigh-ins will also be held at the marina daily at 3 p.m. Attendance is limited to competing anglers, family, essential staff and media covering the event. Fans are encouraged to follow the action online through the MLF NOW! live stream and coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com .
In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 163 anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition on Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers event at Lake Okeechobee presented by 13 Fishing will feature live on-the-water coverage and a two-hour action-packed television show that will premiere on the Outdoor Channel on Sunday, July 11 from 7 to 9 a.m. ET and re-air on the Sportsman Channel this fall. Weigh-ins will be streamed daily and fans can catch live on-the-water action all day Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13-14 on MLF NOW! beginning at 8 a.m. ET at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2021 season culminates with the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Mercury, where the top 48 pros in the points standings plus, 2020 TITLE Champion Rusty Salewske of Alpine, Calif., and 2020 Angler of the Year Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Mich., will compete for as much as $235,000. The 2021 TITLE will be on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug. 17-22, and is hosted by Explore La Crosse.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About MLF BIG5
MLF BIG5 is part of MLF, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization. It provides anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money across five tournament circuits featuring a five-biggest-fish format. Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, MLF and its partners conduct more than 290 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe.
MLF tournaments are broadcast on Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network, MyOutdoorTV, Discovery and CBS Sports while MLF Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros to the world’s most avid bass anglers.