Anglers gather for 2021 tourney

The Massena Intake will be the site of a major bass fishing tournament this week when the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour hits the St. Lawrence River for six days of competition. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Competitors for the fifth event of 2021 Bass Pro Tour Season are trickling into town.

When they are finished, 80 anglers, some of their families, officials and Major League Fishing staff will fill every hotel room for miles around.

Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour, the organization’s premier competition, will be operating out of Massena and on the St. Lawrence River from June 25-30.

This is not the first time MLF has been in Massena. In 2019, the MLF Toyota series held a tournament here.

“It’s kind of like our Triple A level,” said Joe Opager, director of communications for MLF.

There were events planned for 2020 that were lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This six-day event, hosted by the town of Massena and Fish Massena, will feature 80 professional anglers, including bass fishing stars Kevin VanDam, Edwin Evers, Jordan Lee and Jacob Wheeler, with a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and points in hopes of qualifying for the Bass Pro Tour championship.

Two weeks ago, the tour was in Chickamauga Lake in Dayton, Tenn., near Chattanooga, where Mr. VanDam was the overall winner.

Mr. VanDam is from Michigan and is accustomed to deep, cold water fishing like the St. Lawrence, said Mr. Opager, which could give him a good chance of coming out on top again.

“It’s a catch as much fish as you can format,” Mr. Opager said.

The tournament uses MLF’s catch, weigh, immediate-release format, in which the anglers try to catch as much weight as they can each day and an official on the boat enters the weight into a live leaderboard, which fans can watch online. In addition, 10 camera operators will be on the river going from location to location capturing the action of the most productive boats, Mr. Opager said.

The tournament is also being filmed for broadcast later this year on the Discovery Channel.

As part of the event, fans will also be treated to multiple community events throughout the week hosted by Fish Massena.

On Thursday, a Kick-off Concert in the Park featuring Northbound will take place at 6 p.m. at Massena Springs Park.

A kids fishing derby with local area youth fishing alongside Bass Pro Tour anglers will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fobare’s Pond (Sandy Beach) on Coles Creek Road.

On Sunday, the town of Massena will join the anglers at the Massena Intake Ramp for Fishin’ Church, hosted by Bass Pro Tour anglers Mark Rose and Edwin Evers, along with Judy Van Kennan, chaplain for the Massena Fire Department. A free breakfast will be provided. Also on Sunday, Louisville, will host a VIP golf course event featuring multiple Bass Pro Tour anglers from noon to 3 p.m. at The River Course.

All activities are free and open to the public. For more information on the Stage Five Community Events hosted by Fish Massena, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Anglers will take off from the Massena Intake Boat Launch Ramp 8:30 a.m. each day of competition. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will also be held at the launch ramp, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all takeoff and takeout ceremonies and are also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW! livestream and leaderboard coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

St. Lawrence/Franklin County Editor

Slowly self-propelled. Two-time cancer survivor. Nearly 30-year newspaper veteran.

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