This year's event will feature waters familiar to most of the MLF field.
Oklahoma's Grand Lake o' the Cherokee, known simply as Grand Lake, is the host of this year's Major League Fishing REDCREST. The lake is no stranger to big fishing events as the lake has hosted many big tournaments from the FLW Tour, Bassmaster Elite Series, and two Bassmaster Classics.
Many of the anglers fishing have experience on the lake from those events, but this event, which begins tomorrow, marks the first time Major League Fishing has held an event here under its every-fish-counts format.
The minimum weight for bass to count at this event is 2 pounds.
Located in the northeastern part of the state, Grand Lake is a premiere fishery known for pumping out high-quality bass. The lake was created in 1940 with the completion of the Pensacola Dam on the Grand River. Grand Lake has earned its reputation as a major bass fishing destination thanks to the abundance of strong habitat it offers bass.
The area of the lake closest to the dam generally has deeper and cleaner water and anglers venturing up the river will find stained water and abundant shallow cover, allowing anglers fishing to select which part of the lake best fits their fishing style. The most prevalent cover on the entire lake is rock, but there is plenty of manmade structure, including abundant docks.
The event features 41 of the best bass anglers in the world who qualified based on their performance during the 2021 season on the Bass Pro Tour. The list of anglers includes 2021 Angler of the Year Jacob Wheeler and defending REDCREST champion Dustin Connell. Among the others fishing are bass fishing superstars Jordan Lee, Kevin VanDam, Ott DeFoe, Skeet Reese, Justin Lucas, and Bryan Thrift.
There are also three Oklahomans in the event. They include Edwin Evers, a past Bassmaster Classic champion on Grand Lake, as well as James Elam and Zack Birge.
The event is five days long, with all 41 anglers fishing for the first two days. After two days of fishing, the top 20 remaining anglers will be divided into two groups and fish the Knockout Round and start at zero. The top five anglers from each group will advance to the Championship Round with weights zeroed again for a race for the top prize.
The forecast is good for the tournament launch at Wolf Creek ramp in Grove, Oklahoma. The tournament days are forecasted to have varying clouds and sun with high temperatures with lows in the 40s each night and highs in the 60s to during the day, making for stable pre-spawn fishing conditions.
Winning Purses and Bonuses
REDCREST features a top prize of $300,000 to the winning angler. Second place is $50,000 and third is $40,000. Each angler competing is guaranteed a $5,000 payday and the top 20 anglers will receive at least $10,000. The big bass prize for each day of the tournament is $1,000, with another grand for the biggest fish of the event.
Connell Looks to Repeat
As the winner of the second-ever REDCREST, Alabama's Dustin Connell is still riding the momentum of his victory in March of 2021. He recently claimed another win at the 2022 Stage Three on Smith Lake in his home state of Alabama. Connell likes his chances of repeating as champion.
"The odds of winning a championship event like REDCREST are better, simply because there are less anglers fishing," he said. "I know that with the way it lines up, I have to beat 20 at a time to start and it gets less and less each round. Winning twice in a row would be unreal, but I know the odds are with you at this one."
Looking back at his win in 2021, he's had time to reflect on the accomplishment and how it has changed his career.
"It's a life-changing deal and a staple in our industry," he said. "Our tour is relatively new and there has only been two winners, so it's a big deal. I know that my name is now cemented as a REDCREST champion."
The anticipation is high as REDCREST 2022 is set to get underway and the Grand Lake tournament venue is more than capable of producing exciting action with healthy largemouth bass. The winner will be the one that best adapts to the conditions and finds the best concentration of pre-spawn bass.