jacob wheeler
Major League Fishing: Rob Matsuura

Everything You Missed From the 2021 MLF Season

If you're looking to watch Major League Fishing this year, make sure you're caught up on last year's drama.

The 2022 Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour season is here and there are sure to be some exciting things happening as the year begins. For starters, four new anglers have joined the 80-angler field by qualifying for the big show after success on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit in 2021.

Then, you have the new schedule with some unique new fisheries and plenty of old favorites.

There will be many storylines this season, but it will be hard to top last season, a year with some memorable individual performances and close finishes. Here is everything you missed from the 2021 MLF season as you prepare to watch in 2022.

The Jacob Wheeler Show

jacob wheeler

Major League Fishing: Phoenix Moore

Jacob Wheeler has been one of the top professional anglers for a decade now, ever since he became the youngest to ever win the FLW Forrest Wood Cup at age 21 in 2012.

Since then, he's added wins on the Bassmaster Elite Series and the Bass Pro Tour, but 2021 showed that he's in a class of his own as he won three of the seven regular events in the year and walked away with the Angler of the Year title.

It will be hard to surpass his 2021 season, but if anyone can do it, it's Jacob Wheeler.

Ott DeFoe Wins Twice

ott defoe

Major League Fishing: Garrick Dixon

If not for Wheeler's fantastic season, DeFoe's would have been one for the ages. Professional anglers shoot for a win a season, and if they get it, the season is a success. Winning twice in a year is almost unheard of and DeFoe did it at Sam Rayburn in Texas and the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida and was leading the points race until the final event.

With Wheeler and DeFoe taking up most of the attention (and trophies) during the year, it seemed like everyone else was fishing a different tournament during 2021 and fishing for second place.

Micheal Neal Finally Gets it Done

The quiet Tennessean Michael Neal developed a reputation as a great angler and the best without a major win. He'd come close many times, including twice in 2021 after finishing second at REDCREST and 4th at Heavy Hitters. It seemed like he was always in the hunt, but he finally captured a win at the last event of the season on Michigan's Lake St. Clair with a dominant performance on the final day.

In addition to his big win on the Bass Pro Tour, he also scored the Angler of the Year title on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and just notched his second big win to start the 2022 season at Lake Sam Rayburn, also on the Pro Circuit. 

A Close One at Lake Travis

With the Major League Fishing format, where every scoreable bass counts, anglers can get on a roll and win by a landslide. There has been plenty of drama since the Bass Pro Tour began as anglers fight to qualify for the next round. Anglers have had some clutch catches in the closing moments of the day to survive another day, but many of the Championship Rounds haven't been nearly as close. That changed during the second event of 2021 at Lake Travis outside of Austin, Texas.

On the last day, Florida's Bobby Lane scored 25 bass for 28 pounds, 11 ounces. Jacob Wheeler landed less fish with 13 but had just two ounces more than Lane as he took the first of his three wins on the year in the closest ever Bass Pro Tour event.

VanDam's Still Got It

Since joining the Bass Pro Tour, Kevin VanDam, the best to ever play the game, has been relatively quiet. He's still been solid, finishing in 19th place at the end of the 2020 season and 50th in 2019, but it has been unlike his past greatness.

He proved that he still has it in 2021, finishing the year in 17th place for the points, qualifying for another REDCREST and winning Stage Four on Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee. The win was classic VanDam, as he fished offshore ledges with a crankbait and racked up the pounds on the way to another big win as he beat out second place Jacob Wheeler by over 6 pounds.

The 2022 Bass Pro Tour season starts in West Monroe, Louisiana, on a trio of relatively unknown fisheries: Lake d'Arbonne, Caney Creek Reservoir, and Bussey Brake Lake. While last season was an exciting one, 2022 might be even better.