By MLF Communications Staff
UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. – The MLF Bass Pro Tour will visit Union Springs, N.Y., and Cayuga Lake this week for the fifth event of the 2023 Bass Pro Tour season. Competition gets under way today and runs through Sunday.
Cayuga has hosted hundreds of bass tournaments over the years, including the Bass Pro Tour in 2022. However, the June timeline for this event is unique. The traditional bass season doesn't officially start until June 15, yet the catch and immediate-release season runs from Dec. 1-June 14 on inland waters in New York. MLF received confirmation from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that the Bass Pro Tour format of catch, weigh, immediate release is compliant under state guidelines.
The 80-angler field will compete for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000.
In June 2022, angler Thomas Russell Jr. caught an 8-pound, 6-ounce smallmouth on Cayuga Lake to set the New York state record. Dustin Connell, who won the 2022 Bass Pro Tour stop on the lake, believes Russell’s record could be in danger during the event.
“There are so many 5- to 7-pound smallmouth in there and some that are much bigger,” Connell said. “Sight-fishing should be a big factor and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone catches a new record. It will be fun – the lake is full of big bass and most of them will be up shallow.”
Traditionally, largemouth have been the way to win, but Connell changed that mindset with his victory with smallmouth in 2022. This time, he expects a split and says both can produce a winning total.
“It’ll be a battle between the species and nobody knows how it’s going to turn out,” Connell said. “Fishing for big smallmouth may be a good option, but you can also go down a stretch and catch a bunch of largemouth. The grass should just be starting to grow, and the fishing should be incredible no matter which species you decide on.”
Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. CT from Frontenac Park, located at 15 Creamery Road in Union Springs. Each day’s takeout will be held at the park beginning at 4 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! livestream and ScoreTracker coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
As part of the event, on Saturday and Sunday the MLF Fan Experience will be taking place at the Bass Pro Shops in Auburn from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to celebrate fishing and the outdoors. Fans can hang out and watch the pros live on the MLF NOW! big screen during the MLF Watch Party. On Sunday at 5 p.m., the final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand for the trophy celebration and to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.
The tournament will feature pros competing using the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, with each angler’s five heaviest bass per day tallied as their day’s weight.
The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Tuesday and Thursday and the 40 anglers in Group B on Wednesday and Friday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the Top 20 anglers from each group advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 40 anglers compete to finish in the Top 10 to advance to the Championship Round, where weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.
The MLF NOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action live on all six days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. MLF NOW! will be livestreamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.