Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, is set to return to Texas next week, April 9-14, for the third-annual General Tire Heavy Hitters at Lake Palestine . The all-star event will showcase the 32 pros that qualified from the 2021 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 along with Big Bass Bonuses during the competition that pay out $25,000, $50,000, and $100,000 to the single biggest fish in the Qualifying, Knockout and Championship rounds.
To qualify for the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2022 event, the weight of an angler’s single-largest bass from each event of the seven 2021 Bass Pro Tour events was recorded. The 32 anglers with the heaviest five big-fish totals from those seven events qualified to compete in this event.
This event will mark the first time that MLF has ever visited Lake Palestine for an event featuring the catch-weigh-immediate release-format.
“This lake has been on the “quiet” upswing for probably the last 5 to 7 years,” said MLF Director of Event Research and Program Analyst Marty Stone. “This is a ‘kiss and don’t tell anyone’ lake in Texas. The local anglers know how good it is, it just hasn’t had big enough boat ramps and hotel infrastructure to support a national trail. But it will be perfect for this General Tire Heavy Hitters event and I know we’re getting ready to see some tanks.
“I know of at least one 13-pounder that has come out of there this year,” Stone continued. “I think it will take a 9+ pounder every day to win the big fish awards, and I think we will see several in the 10+ range. If we were here a month earlier, I would predict Randy Howell’s record for the largest fish ever caught in Bass Pro Tour competition would likely be broken.”
One Bass Pro Tour angler who will not be competing in this event is local pro Jeff Sprague of Wills Point, Texas. Sprague was the big winner of last year’s General Tire Heavy Hitters 2021 event as he caught the Championship Round Big Bass and earned the $100,000 top prize. The local pro is extremely disappointed that he was unable to qualify for this year’s event but knows that the anglers on the water are in for a special treat.
“Lake Palestine is a hidden jewel in East Texas,” Sprague said. “I’ve been very fortunate to grow up fishing it and it kills me that I’m not going to be a part of this event. This one is going to really impress anyone who watches. We’re going to see a lot of scorable bass caught weighing 5 pounds plus, and quite a few 8- and 9-pounders.
“The only downside that we might see is that the lake is facing a tremendous amount of pressure over these next few weeks – it is absolutely the prime time to be fishing Lake Palestine,” Sprague continued. “It’s known for kicking out mega-bags this time of year, and I know that the guys fishing in Heavy Hitters are going to have an amazing event. “
When asked about the excitement surrounding the Big Bass Awards, Sprague said the opportunity to earn $100,000 from one fish doesn’t come around often.
“It’s not very often that anyone, anywhere gets to fish for that kind of money for just one bite,” Sprague said. “To pull it out last year, was so incredible. A single fish worth $100,000 is a once in a lifetime catch.”
Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. from the Villages Marina, located at Big Eddy Road in Flint, Texas. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the Marina, beginning at 4:30 p.m. 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.
The General Tire Heavy Hitters 2022 will feature anglers competing with a 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. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.
The 16 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday – the 16 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 8th place from both groups advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advances directly to Thursday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed and the remaining 14 anglers compete to finish in the top 8 to advance to the Championship Round. In the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed and the highest one-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 32 anglers that will be competing in the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2022 All-Star Event on Lake Palestine are:
Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn.
James Elam, Tulsa, Okla.
Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas
Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla.
Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala.
Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala.
Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif.
Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan
Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif.
Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky.
Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala.
Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn.
Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla.
Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C.
James Watson, Lampe, Mo.
Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn.
Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz.
Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla.
Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla.
Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark.
Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala.
Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La.
Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark.
Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif.
Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla.
Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla.
Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala.
Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala.
Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C.
Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn.
Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss.
Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La.
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 2022 Event will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, July 16 and running each Saturday through August 20 on the Discovery Channel. A one-hour special episode of MLF Inside Heavy Hitters will also air on CBS in late 2022. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF General Tire Heavy Hitters Event include: Abu Garcia, B&W Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Builders First Source, Covercraft, Ferguson, FuelMe, GEICO, General Tire, Guaranteed Rate, Kubota, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, NITRO Boats, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Plano, Power-Pole, Power Stop Brakes, Shore Lunch, Sonic, StarBrite, Sqwincher, T-H Marine, Toyota, United States Airforce, Wiley X, 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.
About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network, and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. In 2019, MLF expanded its portfolio of catch, weigh, and immediately release events to include the sport’s strongest five-biggest-fish format tournament circuits. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement, and fish care.
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