Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, is set to return to northwest Louisiana, April 24-29, for the fourth-annual General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops at Caney Creek Reservoir & Bussey Brake . The first five days of competition will be held at Caney Creek Reservoir, but on the sixth and final day the final 10 competitors will compete on Bussey Brake.
The General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event, hosted by Discover Monroe-West Monroe and the Louisiana Office of Tourism, will showcase the 30 pros that qualified from the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season competing in a no-entry-fee tournament for a purse of more than $500,000, with a top prize of $100,000 to the winner. Anglers will also be awarded Big Bass Bonuses during the competition that pay out $25,000, $50,000, and $100,000 to the single biggest bass in the Qualifying, Knockout and Championship rounds.
“We are excited to work in partnership with the Louisiana Office of Tourism once again to host one of Major League Fishing’s premier tournaments,” said Alana Cooper, Discover Monroe-West Monroe President/CEO. “The excitement and fun of having the world’s best professional fisherman in our area competing for the largest bass showcases the regions diverse fisheries, our great outdoors and spotlights reasons to visit Monroe-West Monroe and Northeast Louisiana. We look forward to a great week of competition and fantastic fishing.”
To qualify for General Tire Heavy Hitters, the weight of an angler’s single-largest bass from each event of the seven 2022 Bass Pro Tour events was recorded. The 30 anglers with the heaviest total from those seven bass qualified to compete in this event.
Although he failed to qualify this year, pro Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tennessee, was the event winner last season, earning the top prize of $100,000 on Texas’ Lake Palestine. Waco, Texas, pro Alton Jones, Jr. , was the big winner, however, as the Texas pro finished fifth, but earned the Big Bass Bonuses in both the Knockout and Champion Rounds to earn a total of $165,000 in winnings.
“Last year’s event was magical. I just love the format of this tournament, and I love hunting big fish,” said Jones, who will be among the 30 competitors in this event. “It’s what I do for fun in the offseason – I love to target one big fish. Hopefully this year I’ll get a chance to compete on Bussey Brake. All money aside, I just want to fish there because of the quality of fish that live there. It looks so fun.”
The Bass Pro Tour visited Caney Creek and Bussey Brake to open the season last year, in a tournament in early February. In that event, pro Randy Howell of Guntersville, Alabama, set a new Bass Pro Tour record in the Knockout Round on Caney Creek for largest bass ever weighed – a 10-pound, 14-ounce brute. The very next day, Howell broke his own record, catching a 12-pound, 11-ounce behemoth on Bussey Brake.
“I was excited to see this event when the schedule was announced, and I pray that I can make it to the final day,” Howell said of a chance to beat his record. “We were there in February, and it was freezing. I can only imagine how good it will be with warmer weather, throwing topwaters around those bushes.”
“Caney is a great lake, and the grass was just starting to grow the last time we were there,” Howell continued. “Later in the year, it should be much healthier, and the fish should be done spawning and feeding up. I can see big topwaters, swimbaits and a bladed jig catching some big bass.”
“I’m so happy to be in this one – we think about this tournament every single day during the regular season,” said pro Josh Bertrand of Queen Creek, Arizona. “Our championship, REDCREST, is great, but this is an event that you don’t want to miss. It’s the most fun tournament we fish all year. One swing of the rod and you can cash a huge check and it’s such a blast to be a part of that.”
Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. CT. The Qualifying and Knockout Rounds, Days 1-5, will launch from Caney Creek Hooks Marina, located at 400 Spillway Road in Chatham, Louisiana. The final 10 anglers competing in the Championship Round will launch from Bonner Ferry Road, located five miles northwest of Bastrop off of Highway 593. 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, April 29, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to visit the Bussey Brake boat ramp located at 5373 Boat Dock Road in Bastrop, to celebrate the top 10 and crown the 2023 General Tire Heavy Hitters Champion at the Watch Party and Trophy Presentation. The final 10 Heavy Hitters Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.
Different from the Bass Pro Tour regular-season events, this tournament will feature anglers competing using the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format in which anglers catch as many scorable bass and as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. A bass must meet the 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable in the Qualifying and Knockout Rounds, but for the final day Championship Round a bass must weigh at least 3 pounds to be deemed scorable.
The 15 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Monday and Wednesday – the 15 anglers in Group B on Tuesday and Thursday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the top eight anglers from both groups advance to Thursday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round weights are zeroed, and the remaining 16 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In Saturday’s final day Championship Round, weights carry over from the Knockout Round and the highest two-day total wins. In addition to the tournament, Big Bass Bonuses are awarded in each round of competition with payouts of $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 awarded to the single biggest fish in the Qualifying, Knockout and Championship rounds.
The 30 anglers that will be competing in the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2023 All-Star Event Caney Creek Reservoir and Bussey Brake are:
Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz.
Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla.
Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark.
Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala.
Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark.
Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas
Alton Jones, Sr., Lorena, Texas
Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas
Gary Klein, Mingus, Texas
Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala.
Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky.
Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala.
Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla.
Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C.
Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C.
Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala.
Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn.
Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif.
Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla.
Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala.
Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala.
Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala.
Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho
Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn.
Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala.
Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla.
Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn.
Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala.
The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all six days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2023 Presented by Bass Pro Shops will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Aug. 5 and running each Saturday through Sept. 9 on Discovery. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF General Tire Heavy Hitters Event include: Abu Garcia, B&W Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Builders First Source, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Kubota, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, NITRO Boats, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Plano, Power-Pole, Shore Lunch, StarBrite, Sqwincher, T-H Marine, Toyota, United States Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon and YETI.
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.