TULSA, Okla. – To further elevate the sport of tournament bass fishing and align multiple circuits as one company, Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today its unification with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) as one brand, transitioning all FLW brand assets to MLF.
The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Toyota Series, Phoenix Bass Fishing League, Abu Garcia College Fishing and High School Fishing will all carry the MLF logo and continue the five-biggest-fish format. A new website that builds on the existing sites, streamlines tournament entry, provides cutting-edge gear and tactics advice, and better highlights participating anglers is set to be unveiled in early 2021.
“Merging the FLW brand under the Major League Fishing umbrella is the next logical step in our company’s evolution, which now includes a broader reach than any of us thought possible in our formative years,” MLF BIG5 Executive Vice President and General Manager Kathy Fennel said. “The key to our success lies not in a name, but in our unwavering focus on providing the best possible tournaments for anglers, fans, hosts and sponsors – our family. Uniting with MLF under a single brand makes the whole greater than the sum of the pieces. The letters may be different, but the people and the values will remain the same.”
The FLW organization now known as “Major League Fishing BIG5” began life as Operation Bass. Founded on the shores of Kentucky Lake in 1979 by Mike Whitaker, a teacher and football coach turned electronics salesman, Operation Bass grew from humble beginnings to become the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization with five circuits and more than 300 events in 11 countries offering $21 million in awards.
Operation Bass was purchased by Minneapolis businessman Irwin L. Jacobs in 1996 and renamed FLW Outdoors in 2001 to honor Forrest L. Wood and the principles he embodied. While those principles still guide the company, FLW became Fishing League Worldwide in 2014 to set the stage for international growth, which now includes bass tournaments in Canada, China, Italy, Mexico, Namibia, Korea, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe.
Fishing League Worldwide was acquired by Major League Fishing in November 2019. The acquisition was the most significant brand merger in competitive bass fishing history, linking an innovative tour and original, award-winning programming featuring the top professional anglers in the world to the extensive grassroots organization that serves tens of thousands of competitive anglers from high school and college students to weekenders and tour pros.
“The unrivaled television audience paired with unmatched tournament activation, MLF Bass Fishing magazine, a combined social media following in excess of one million fans, the sport’s most comprehensive live on-the-water coverage, and two of the sport’s top websites united under a single brand was a natural progression as the two organizations combine,” said Don Rucks, MLF Executive Vice President and General Manager.
To delineate between the Major League Fishing format of catch-weigh-immediate release competition, the five-biggest-fish tournament circuits will operate as the Major League Fishing BIG5 and will capitalize on MLF’s incredible reach on Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network, Discovery, CBS and MyOutdoorTV (MOTV).