Tournament bass fishing sees expanding global interest

The world is getting smaller and competitive tournament bass fishing is playing its part. Along with growing the sport – and the sale of rods, reels, lures, line and more designed for it – it continues to attract anglers from way beyond the traditional US ‘Bible belt’. It truly has gone global.

By John Mazurkiewicz.

When more than 275 participants at the recent Major League Fishing (MLF) Toyota Series Championship arrived on the famed bass fishing mecca of Lake Guntersville in Alabama, USA, competing for the top prize of up to $235,000 (USD) there were not only anglers from 39 US states but from Canada, Italy, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and Zimbabwe. In its own way, you could call it the ‘World Cup’ of bass fishing.

According to MLF vice president operations Dave Washburn, MLF started its affiliation with bass fishing clubs around the globe in 2015. “We received a steady stream of interest from bass anglers in other countries who would respond to news about our tournaments found on our website. “They wanted to become involved and we naturally found the opportunity to grow the interest in competitive bass fishing beyond our borders.”

Expansion and backing

The MLF-affiliated clubs around the world receive guidance and guidelines on how to conduct an MLF- branded tournament trail in their own countries.

Through these grassroots efforts that help foster the competitive juices for anyone who participates in a sport, bass anglers quickly identify the relevant tackle offerings from global brands like Daiwa, Abu Garcia, Rapala, Pure Fishing and Shimano so dealers in those countries can now add to their store’s product assortment.

US-based manufacturers such as PRADCO, Strike King Lures, Lew’s, Z-Man, AFTCO and Simms are afforded the opportunity to expand and bring awareness to their bass fishing products to an international audience, while names like BKK Hooks, Molix, Jackall, Evergreen, Weston, Keitech and others can see residual exposure in it all to the 20 million-plus US bass fishing market.

The demographics for bass anglers worldwide are changing. As the sport becomes more sophisticated from the participant side with a rising middle class in certain countries who has the means and need to spend more of their income on fishing for recreation, and as tackle and gear manufacturers continue to add more funding and focus to their research, product development, and marketing efforts, Washburn says the MLF efforts will continue to embrace the international bass fishing market.

“It’s becoming that no matter where you live, tournament bass fishing is benefiting all segments of the sport and growing it globally.

“For those participating in our events where we give anglers from other countries the  opportunity to fish some of the best lakes in the US, there’s a quick, genuine connection between the angler no matter if they are from Tennessee or South Carolina or if they travelled across the world from Italy, South Korea or Zimbabwe to see who can catch the biggest limit and have bragging rights – and the nice cheque that goes along with it.”



Since participants compete in both ‘pro’  and ‘co-angler’ divisions, the MLF Toyota Series Championship boat pairings can at times team up interesting combinations. Even though he didn’t speak English and his partner didn’t speak Spanish, Spain’s pro angler Jose Acero and Michigan USA co-angler Cooper Jett landed 18 bass during their time on the water, with Acero noting that he learned the importance of changing up his lures for situation and location from Jett. This is bass fishing.

Jose Acero and Cooper Jett.



From its location in north-central Alabama, it’s not often (how about never before) you see the Zimbabwe flag flying over the docks of Lake Guntersville, considered by many the best tournament bass fishing lake in the US. The team has a large contingent of supporters travelling with them to help out, which included letting all the other participants know that the Zimbabwe team was there to compete.