Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, is set to continue the 2019 FLW Tour season – the 24th season of the competitive Tour – March 28-31, with the FLW Tour at Grand Lake presented by Mercury.
Hosted by the City of Grove and the Cherokee Casino Grove, the tournament will feature 168 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals competing for a top award of up to $125,000 and valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2019 FLW Cup – the world championship of bass fishing.
The FLW Tour has visited Grand Lake just once prior in FLW’s 24-year history.
When the Tour visited the northeastern Oklahoma fishery in 2013, Oklahoma pro angler Jason Christie averaged nearly 20 pounds a day targeting willow trees in the Elk River to earn his third-career FLW Tour win.
The 2019 event will mark the 214th tournament in FLW Tour history. The total purse for the FLW Tour at Grand Lake presented by Mercury is more than $860,000.
“We’ve got a big warming trend happening in the days leading up to this tournament and by the time it rolls around it should be lights out,” said local Tour pro 21-year-old Sheldon Collings of Grove, who is currently in his second season on the FLW Tour. “I expect that the fishing will be phenomenal and we should see some big bags.
“I really think it’s going to be an old-school prespawn shootout,” Collings continued. “If I had to predict, I think 90-percent of the fish that we see caught will come on a (Storm) Wiggle Wart, a big spinnerbait and a jig. The water is stained right now, and there is only so much you can do with it.”
Collings added that he also expects squarebill crankbaits and jerkbaits to produce for tournament anglers, but didn’t believe that pattern could hold up for a four-day event. He predicted that the jig bite would be very strong – especially transition banks on bluff ends and to laydowns on chunk rock banks.
“We’re hitting it right and we should see a couple of big limits – 24 to 25 pounds,” Collings went on to say. “I think the winner will need to average right around 20 pounds a day. I’ll predict the winning weight will be 75 to 80 pounds over the four days.”
Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. CST Thursday through Sunday from Wolf Creek Park, located at 963 N. 16th St., in Grove. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins, March 28-29, will be held at the park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins, March 30-31, will also be held at the park, but will begin at 4 p.m.
Prior to the weigh-ins, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at Wolf Creek Park from 2 to 6 p.m. each day. The Expo is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby will be held at the boat basin on Saturday, March 30 from Noon-2 p.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to anyone under the age of 18 and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. The 1st and 2nd place anglers that catch the biggest fish will be recognized Saturday on the FLW Tour stage, just prior to the pros weighing in.
As part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will visit patients, guests and staff at the INTEGRIS Grove Hospital, located at 1001 E. 18th St., in Grove on Wednesday, March 27 from 8:30-10 a.m. to interact with guests, snap photos and sign autographs for patients, give away some goodie bags and share fishing stories.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Grand Lake presented by Mercury will premiere in 2019. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show airs each Saturday night at 7 p.m. EST and is broadcast to more than 63 million cable, satellite and telecommunications households in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean on the World Fishing Network (WFN), the leading entertainment destination and digital resource for anglers throughout North America. FLW television is also distributed internationally to FLW partner countries, including Canada, China, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and South Africa.
The popular FLW Live on-the-water program will air on Days Three and Four of the event, featuring live action from the boats of the tournament’s top pros each day. New for 2019, host Travis Moran will be joined by Oklahoma Costa FLW Series pro Matt Pangrac to break down the extended action each day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. On-the-water broadcasts will be live streamed on FLWFishing.com, the FLW YouTube channel and the FLW Facebook page.
In FLW Tour competition, the full field of 168 pro anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The top 30 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2019 FLW Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2019 FLW Cup will be on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 9-11 and is hosted by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Visit Hot Springs.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the sport’s top anglers on the FLW Tour on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.