TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 20, 2019) – Major League Fishing® (MLF) announced today that Cullman, Alabama, and nearby popular bass fishery Lewis Smith Lake will serve as the setting for Stage Five of the 2019 MLF Bass Pro Tour, April 30 – May 5.
“We are extremely excited to announce this new partnership and adventure with Major League Fishing,” said Woody Jacobs, Mayor of the City of Cullman. “By bringing the 2019 MLF Bass Pro Tour to our community this spring, we will be opening new avenues to sports tourism that were not always an option.”
“I want to thank those involved with our Cullman Parks, Recreation, & Sports Tourism, along with Cullman Economic Development Agency for recruiting and securing the event; and also the Cullman County Commission and County Parks and Recreation for providing resources for this all to work. MLF consists of the top bass anglers in the world, and Smith Lake offers one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the entire United States. All of these factors, along with the tourism benefits and the prime coverage will help to make this a successful and fun event.”
Neither the state nor Cullman are strangers to the bass fishing scene. Sixteen of the Bass Pro Tour’s 80-angler field call Alabama home, and Jesse Wiggins, Matt Lee and Jordan Lee are from Cullman. Jordan Lee won the inaugural Bass Pro Tour opener in Kissimmee, Florida, and he’s the reigning Bassmaster Classic champion with back-to-back Classic titles – winning in 2017 and 2018.
The north Alabama reservoir is located on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River. It is about 21,000 acres in size and reaches depths of more than 250 feet near its dam. The lake’s diversity in depth and structure caters to literally every bass fishing technique imaginable, from topwater to drop shotting, meaning every angler should be able to fish to his liking.
The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) recently reopened the public boat landing that will serve as the Stage Five launch site. The renovated facility includes a 90-foot-wide, six-lane launching slab and a paved parking lot with room for 113 tow vehicles with boat trailers, and 10 cars.
Other improvements include security lighting, a paved overflow parking lot for another 70 truck and trailer rigs, a 45-foot stationary aluminum pier, two large floating aluminum piers and a fixed aluminum pedestrian bridge that connects the overflow and main parking areas. The launch site is located on the northeast side of Ryan Creek and accessed free of charge through Smith Lake Park at 403 County Rd. 386 in Cullman.
The project was funded by the Sport Fish Restoration Program, which is supported through excise taxes on the sale of outboard motor fuel, fishing equipment, and the sale of state fishing licenses. For more information about this and other WFF public boating access areas, visit boatramps.dcnr.alabama.gov/.
As for Smith’s quality fishing, anglers often find themselves challenged in deciding whether to focus on the lake’s generous population of spotted bass, target the bigger largemouth bass or rely on both. Making it even more interesting is the fact that the MLF Bass Pro Tour uses a unique catch-weigh-and-immediate-release format in which all “scorable” bass caught do count in an angler’s score. That means Smith Lake’s big schools of healthy spotted bass could be game changers throughout the competition.
“It’s going to be highly exciting to watch our MLF hammers compete in the heart of the Yellowhammer State,” said Michael Mulone, MLF’s Senior Director of Events & Partnerships. “MLF’s format will really show off how good this fishery is because bass within Smith Lake’s 13-to-15-inch slot limit will count in our competition once they satisfy the one-pound minimum rule and since MLF fish are released immediately back into the water after being caught and weighed … they don’t go into livewells.
“The Cullman folks are already working hard to make Stage Five something special and I can assure all MLF fans that this will definitely be a must-attend festival.”
As in all Bass Pro Tour events, the Cullman visit will feature seven hours of live coverage on each competition day with access to the MLF NOW! free live stream found on the league’s website, www.majorleaguefishing.com.
The Smith Lake event will also result in a two-hour television show that will air on Discovery Channel in the fourth quarter of 2019, and repeat on Sportsman Channel in first and second quarters of 2020.
MLF programming also airs on Outdoor Channel, World Fishing Network, CBS, CBS Sports Network and Discovery Channel, and all episodes are available on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV).
For more information about Cullman and Smith Lake, visit Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism or the Cullman Economic Development Agency.
For more information about MLF and its anglers, rules and sponsors, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.