Hook, Line & Thinker: MLF Team Event Made For TV

by Chris McCotter

Getting inside the mind of professional bass fishermen is revealing and makes for compelling TV.

  Major League Fishing (MLF) has created a made for TV team format. Top 27 tour pros choose tour anglers, forming teams of three. Teams are given vague destination information on smaller venues not previously fished. Pros don’t know whether they’ll be fishing lakes or rivers, shallow or deep, grass or wood, or for smallmouth, largemouth or spotted bass. 

  The format features top pros, with top equipment, on a level playing field with just a few minutes to strategize to create a great sporting event. Headsets enable teams to break down unfamiliar waters and reveal thought processes and analysis not found in publications or other tournament formats.  

  West Virginia’s second largest lake, relatively small 2,630- acre Stonewall Jackson Lake, surprised and impressed the world’s best professional anglers. Built in the late 80s, Stonewall only recently allowed small club and regional tournaments. 

  The first visit to West Virginia, MLF showcased their anglers. WV showcased their bass fishing crown jewel with a TV calling card reaching a family vacation market in a beautiful state park location.

   MLF BassCat Mercury pro Kelly Jordon, was totally surprised with the West Virginia choice. No one had heard of Stonewall. With a map, the teams huddled, shared observations, and decided where to go. 

   Jordon said the water had a slight green tint, allowing light to penetrate for bait visibility, but enough color to offer cover for anglers. The deeper Stonewall set up like a river lake with two arms and major feeder creeks. Team Captain, Hall of Fame angler Kevin VanDam put in his suggestions and off they went, using fishing instincts and every lure they owned.

   Carrying nearly 40 rods for everything from finesse fishing to heavy duty mat punching, Jordon didn’t want to be unprepared. 

  Stonewall has standing timber, the Texas pro’s specialty. He learned about forests by walking in them, noting which trees grew where and how high. Bigger trees close to creeks are difficult to remove and reveal where small side channels are located. Bass prefer bigger trees and horizontal logs at any depth.  Pines and cedars usually grow on higher ground, indicating submerged humps. 

   Shaded sides of trees were targeted with Lucky Craft 1.5 squarebill crankbaits on KJ Duckett 7-foot MH rods and 15-17 pound line. For deeper wood, he tied Lucky Craft 1.5 DDs on a 7’11” Boyd Duckett cranking rod with 12-pound line. In between he targeted cover with a Lake Fork Trophy Bait & Tackle Magic Shad on a Chatterbait. 

  Jordon found gizzard shad the right size for bass forage, the results of WV DNR stocking a few years ago. He says most fish caught were good size, probably due to an ample musky population eating smaller bass. 

  This beautiful and scenic highland lake has a great launch facility, several ramps, shoreline fishing areas and handicapped fishing piers.

As part of the partnership, ads for West Virginia Tourism aired in episodes of Major League Fishing. 

Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & freelance writer. Potomac River reports: www,nationalbass.com. YouTube video channel NationalBassGuide.

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