Thursday, July 25, 2024

MLF ‘Century Club’ Commemorative Coins Start Hitting Mailboxes

Date:

BENTON, Ky. (July 3, 2024) – Last week, the first round of MLF Century Club coins headed out to anglers who have fished 100 or more events with MLF or its predecessors, FLW and Operation Bass. It’s a mailing list that includes Bass Pro Tour stalwarts like Jacob Wheeler and Andy Morgan  as well as hundreds of regional anglers — and quite possibly someone you know.

“We have over 1,200 anglers that have fished 100 or more tournaments with us since 1994, when we started digital records retention,” said Kathy Fennel, MLF Executive Vice President and General Manager. “That number undoubtedly climbs even higher going back to our very first tournament season in 1980, and our team is working to honor those early participants as well as we comb through paper archives. These anglers have shaped the history of our sport, and we are proud to honor them.” 

Anyone with 100 or more tournaments to their name on the boater or co-angler side should receive a coin, which will certainly stoke some fond memories. As everyone knows, tournament fishing tends to turn into a lifestyle, and the trophies and paychecks are only a small part of the experience – the people you meet along the way can be just as special. 

With more than 388 tournaments to his credit, Jim Tutt  has competed with MLF and its predecessors more than anyone else. Tutt’s career started in the paper record days and is ongoing, and it’s one folks might remember for any number of reasons. Part of the Kellogg’s team for a long time on the FLW Tour, you could recall Tutt sporting the Rice Krispies wrap or have one of his various high finishes at Sam Rayburn locked into your mind. Or, perhaps you know him as one of the most personable and friendly anglers you could find.

“I’m so blessed to have been able to fish so much,” Tutt said. “I was able to fish for a long, long time and not have to work very much. I did the opposite of what most people do — I fished for a long time, and now I work a little bit. Most people work their whole lives and then retire and fish, but I got it backwards. Hopefully I can continue on for a lot more years.”

Even now, after shelving a national fishing career, Tutt is still running the circuit back home — he’s sixth in the points in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Cowboy Division this year. Over the years, Tutt has been fortunate to have his life align so he could be on the water a lot. 

“One thing that allowed me to fish so many was that I was fortunate enough early in my career to win several tournaments, so I had a good starting spot with money,” Tutt said. “When I was with Kellogg’s for so long, that was also a great basis financially to go out and be able to do all that.

“Number one, I have great support from my wife,” he continued. “That’s No. 1 – she didn’t have a problem with me fishing. Number 2, no kids, that’s another thing. My dad traveled with me for a time; my family as a whole, I had good support from them. Truthfully, I didn’t realize it was that many (events), but the bottom line is I just love competing. Not always against the other fishermen, but the fish. I love fishing, but I love the competition of figuring it out on a given day.”

Tutt has some treasured memories from over the years, including a 2002 EverStart Series win at home on Sam Rayburn. But, one of the best memories is of his first FLW Tour event – in 1999 at Lake Okeechobee.

“The reason that stands out for me is I didn’t have any information about the lake, I had never been there before, I didn’t know anybody,” he said. “I just went fishing, I found the fish on my own, caught ‘em on my own, and at that point, I thought, ‘Man, this is pretty dang cool.’ I was proud. I didn’t have any help, no prior knowledge, I just showed up and went fishing.”

Rolling into Florida to fish a giant bowl of vegetation must have been daunting, but it didn’t stop him. Finishing third in the event, Tutt cashed $20,000, which kicked off a 24-year run on the FLW Tour and Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit.

Still, for Tutt, it’s the people as much as anything that have made bass fishing so special for him.

“I’m sure I’ll forget someone, but there’s a short list of people I’m really fortunate to have met,” said Tutt. “Rick Lilegard, Joel Richardson, Troy Morrow, Mark Mowery, Jody White and Rick Taylor come to mind. These are guys I’ve met, fished against, roomed with and traveled with over the last 30 years, and they’ve become longtime close friends. Those guys really stand out, but holy smokes, I could go on and on. The best friends I’ve got, I’ve made through fishing.”

At MLF, we’re genuinely grateful for every angler who decides to trust us with their weekend on the water. The Century Club program is just getting off the ground, and if you haven’t received a coin yet and should have, please reach out. Going forward, we’ll run the numbers at the end of every season, so if you’re in the 90s now and shooting for a coin, stay by the mailbox this fall. Additionally, anglers who fished Operation Bass tournaments from 1980 through 1993 are encouraged to contact MLF at info@majorleaguefishing.com to help verify participation for inclusion in the Century Club.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For tournament updates, photos, news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.



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