PARK FALLS, Wis. – All eyes within the bass-fishing world will be on North Carolina’s Lake Norman when Major League Fishing’s REDCREST comes to Charlotte for its fourth installment, March 8-12, 2023. The best bass anglers in the game – 40 of them – will battle it out for the REDCREST Championship Trophy, a $300,000 top prize, and the title of Bass Pro Tour World Champion.
REDCREST IV will feature the MLF’s familiar catch, weigh, immediate-release format, but only the five heaviest bass caught by each angler each day will contribute to their score. This represents a change from the MLF’s previous scoring system based on the total weight of every fish caught. Each day of competition will be livestreamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app. Television coverage of REDCREST IV will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering next summer on the Discovery Channel. A one-hour special episode is also scheduled to air next summer on CBS.
In addition to the tournament itself, the MLF Outdoor Sports Expo featuring hundreds of exhibitors and activities will be held at The Park Expo & Conference Center in Charlotte, March 10-12. Fishing fans and outdoor enthusiasts will have the opportunity to visit booths and vendors showcasing the latest and greatest in fishing, boating, hunting, camping and more. The biggest names in the outdoor industry will be on hand, including Bass Pro Tour anglers and St. Croix Rod – handcrafters of the Best Rods on Earth for 75 years.
Visitors to the MLF Outdoor Sports Expo will want to make time to visit the St. Croix booth (F221), which will be offering a free hat with the purchase of a St. Croix rod and will also be giving attendees the opportunity to win a Victory rod with no purchase necessary. Fans will also want to check out the booths of the various St. Croix dealers participating in the event, who are planning their own special deals.
Once the fishing begins on Lake Norman, MLF Bass Pro Tour angler and St. Croix pro, Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Arkansas, will be one to watch. One of only a few anglers to have qualified to fish in all four REDCREST events to date, “The Puma”, as he’s known, has earned more than $1.6 million over his career by playing to his strengths. Those strengths – while versatile – are firmly centered on casting a Z-Man Jackhammer chatterbait in and around shallow-water structure. He says the weather will definitely represent a wild card on Lake Norman in early March but expects to find a lot of bass heading shallow for the spawn. If that turns out to be the case, fans can expect Browning to catch a lot of fish.
“I’m going to plan for normal, which means bass in shallow water,” Browning says. “Norman has a lot of shallow targets in that key two-six-foot range, which is right up my alley. I think finding the right boat docks will be key, but if the weather throws us a curve ball, we’ll just back out and focus on channel-bank swings and all the other likely transition areas. We’ll figure out the lay of the land, then we’ll find the big ones.”
Jesse Wiggins is another St. Croix pro who’ll be in the hunt at REDCREST IV. The Addison, Alabama angler kicked off his professional career by winning three B.A.S.S. Opens in 2016 and 2017 and won last year’s MLF Bass Pro Tour event on Lake of the Ozarks. This will be Wiggins’ second consecutive REDCREST appearance.
“It’s one of the biggest tournaments and titles in the world, and I’d love to put my name on that trophy one of these days,” says Wiggins, who’s fished Norman in the past, but never in the springtime. “I know there’s a bunch of spotted bass there, but there’s a lot of small ones. With the move to the new 5-fish system, it’s going to be important to be able to find the largemouths and catch some of the bigger ones.”
Like Browning, Wiggins is known and respected for his shallow-water prowess. “Folks who keep an eye on me know that I love my crankbaits, chatterbaits, shakeyheads, and jigs,” Wiggins says. “If these fish are set up like I hope they’ll be, I should have a good tournament.”
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing, REDCREST IV 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 St. Croix Rod
Headquartered in Park Falls, Wisconsin, St. Croix has been proudly producing the “Best Rods on Earth” for nearly 75 years. Combining state-of-the-art manufacturing processes with skilled craftsmanship, St. Croix is the only major producer to still build rods entirely from design through manufacturing. The company remains family-owned and operates duplicate manufacturing facilities in Park Falls and Fresnillo, Mexico. With popular trademarked series such as Legend®, Legend Xtreme®, Victory Avid®, Premier®, RIFT, Imperial®, Triumph® and Mojo, St. Croix is revered by all types of anglers from around the world.