Matt Lee

Cullman's Matt Lee is pictured.

Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament organization, heads to Cullman this week (March 11-14) for the MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Covercraft Stop 2 — Lewis Smith Lake.

This is the second event of the 2021 Pro Circuit season — hosted by the Cullman Area Local Organizing Committee — offering competitors the opportunity to compete for a total purse of more than $900,000.

In its 26th season, the circuit formerly known as the FLW Tour features 163 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals competing across six regular-season events, each with a top award of up to $135,000. The field will also compete for valuable points to qualify for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship, and the opportunity to compete for up to $235,000.

This event will mark the fifth time the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit has visited Lewis Smith Lake.

The Pro Circuit last visited Smith Lake in April 2018, when North Carolina pro David Williams took advantage of the shad spawn around the docks, bringing home the hardware with a four-day total of 64 pounds, 9 ounces. Prior to that, in March 2015, Pennsylvania pro Dave Lefebre sacked up 65 pounds, 5 ounces over four days, with a unique technique – targeting fish chasing blueback herring with a wakebait – to bring home the win. Lefebre also holds the record for the heaviest winning weight in a Pro Circuit event on Smith Lake.

“I was able to fish on Smith Lake a lot last year due to COVID-19 – it is phenomenal through the winter months and anglers are able to get a lot of bites. The fishing is ideal right now and will be through the next month or so,” said Cullman native and Bass Pro Tour angler Matt Lee. “It’s setting up nice and we haven’t had any crazy amounts of rain or flooding, so I think guys are going to be able to catch them just about any way they want to.”

Although Smith Lake is a highland reservoir and known for its deep, clear water, with depths up to 250 feet, with spring around the corner the fish are starting to move up to shallower water.

“It’s in that pre-spawn phase right now – right in between moons, when fish are moving up – so this should be a really good tournament,” Lee continued. “The dirtier water back in the creeks is always a factor on Smith Lake. However, with the number of boats in the field, there’s not as much of it, so it can fish small under that type of pressure and it might be tricky to count on that to hold up for four days.

“I predict it will take 17 pounds a day to win the event and 15 pounds the first three days should guarantee a spot in the top 10 on the final day,” said Lee.

Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. CT Thursday through Sunday from Smith Lake Park, located at 403 County Road 386 in Cullman. Weigh-ins will also be held at the park Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. Due to COVID-19 precautions, attendance is limited to competing anglers, family, essential staff and media covering the event. Fans are encouraged to follow the action online through the MLF NOW! live stream and coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 163 anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition on Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.

The MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Covercraft Stop 2 – Lewis Smith Lake event will feature live on-the-water coverage and a two-hour action-packed television show that will premiere on the Outdoor Channel on Sunday, July 18 from 7 to 9 a.m. ET and re-air on the Sportsman Channel this fall. Weigh-ins will be streamed daily and fans can catch live on-the-water action all day Saturday and Sunday, March 13-14 on MLF NOW! beginning at 7:30 a.m. CT at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The 2021 season culminates with the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Mercury, where the top 48 pros in the points standings plus, 2020 TITLE Champion Rusty Salewske of Alpine, California, and 2020 Angler of the Year Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Michigan, will compete for as much as $235,000. The 2021 TITLE will be on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug. 17-22, and is hosted by Explore La Crosse.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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