Coleman: MLF given royal treatment in Alpena

Almost a year ago, our organization – Major League Fishing – began scouting potential locations in the upper Midwest for a film shoot. As many folks in Alpena probably recently noticed, we wound up on your doorstep to film our show.

By way of introduction, Major League Fishing is a partnership of many of the world’s most accomplished (and best-known) pro anglers and Outdoor Channel. Three years ago representatives from these two entities came together with a common goal: Each group wanted to create a television show that changes the way the public views professional fishing.

A primary spokesman for the anglers is former Bassmaster Classic champion Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala. He puts it this way: “For 40 years, we’ve seen our sport promoted and televised the same way. It’s OK for hard-core fishing fans, but we recognize that it’s not appealing to ‘regular sports fans.’ It’s time to us to break that mold. We want to make a product that appeals to a fishing audience but is compelling to a wider audience.”

So, in short, Outdoor Channel and the anglers jointly created that product: Major League Fishing. The league, with its signature television show, has now completed four events, and the league even has a corporate sponsor in Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. (You might have noticed the talented and expressive Sasquatch, who spent a couple of days making the rounds in Alpena.)

Major League Fishing offers tournament fishing in a way that it has never been shown before. There are live leader boards in every boat, there are penalties, there is drama at the end of most periods, and there is real emotion related to real action. Nothing is scripted. The show is Outdoor Channel’s No. 1 fishing show and, arguably, the industry’s most talked-about television product. That’s the production that just left Alpena.

Whereas no one at Major League Fishing tried to hide while we were in Alpena, at the same time we attempted to do our shooting as privately as possible as we utilized several lakes near Alpena. And we fully believe the production from Alpena will be the best of the four televised tournaments that we hosted.

On behalf of Major League Fishing General Manager Jim Wilburn, Commissioner Don Rucks and myself, I would like to express to the Alpena community our deepest appreciation for the support we received. The Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau, area businesses and the Alpena community in general offered us nothing short of unparalleled cooperation.

Major League Fishing brought a delegation of more than 100 people to Alpena, and our group came with a variety of needs and functions. We found both assistance and courtesy at every turn, which made our jobs less complicated and our production a far smoother operation. In the process, I believe we also developed a keen appreciation for Alpena itself and Northeast Michigan as a region.

Specifically, I would like to express special thanks to Mary Beth Stutzman, of the Alpena CVB, for the extraordinary level of cooperation and service that she provided. From the outset, Ms. Stutzman seemed to grasp the significance of bringing Major League Fishing to Alpena. She was attentive to the largest and smallest of details, starting with the initial conversations we had with her regarding our event and carrying right through to our final day in Alpena.

Ms. Stutzman also introduced us to Joe Zolnierek, who took on a major undertaking by helping guide us through many of the fishing-related decisions that had to be made. Mr. Zolneirek also put together an extremely helpful and knowledgeable group of volunteers. We are grateful for this service.

The Major League Fishing delegation included 24 of the best anglers in the world and representatives of some of the country’s most successful businesses. I think it would be safe to say that every last individual would be delighted to return to Alpena.

Jack Link’s Major League Fishing’s production of the General Tire Summit Cup from Alpena will air on Outdoor Channel beginning in January 2014. Episodes are scheduled to run multiple times per week throughout the first quarter of the year. Many of those hours will be in “prime time.” We will have updates in the near future that let you know about additional programming information. I think you will be pleased to hear subsequent announcements we will offer regarding these telecasts.

We look forward to showcasing Alpena – the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes – and the beautiful and bountiful lakes of Northeast Michigan.

Randy Coleman is the communications director for Major League Fishing.