Cullman set to host MLF Toyota Series at Smith Lake

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CULLMAN, Ala. (March 26, 2024) – The Major League Fishing (MLF) Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats is set to visit Cullman, Alabama, next week, April 4-6, for the Toyota Series at Smith Lake .

The three-day tournament is the second event of the year for Central Division anglers and is hosted by Visit Cullman. The event will feature a roster of the region’s best bass-fishing pros and Strike King co-anglers competing for a top prize of up to $100,000 in the pro division and a new Phoenix 518 Pro boat with a 115-horsepower outboard motor plus $5,000 in the co-angler division.

Local pro Jesse Wiggins of Addison, Alabama, said he’s looking forward to a fantastic event with phenomenal fishing, as well as the opportunity to sleep in his own bed while competing for big money.

“This event is hitting at an awesome time for Smith Lake,” said Wiggins. “It’s my favorite time of year there because the fish will be all over the fishery, in all stages of the spawn.

“There was a Toyota Series event on Smith Lake about the same time last year and my brother [Jordan Wiggins] actually won that one, but I told him I wasn’t going to let him win it two years in a row.”

Wiggins said there will be a ton of fish caught, so catching a limit isn’t going to be a problem, but finding the right size of fish for the winning bag will be key.

“Guys are really going to be able to fish to their strengths,” explained Wiggins. “If they want to fish out deep with [Garmin] LiveScope, there will be fish out there on bait and you could probably catch 40 to 50 bass each day doing that, but if you want to fish the bank or sight-fish, there will be some fish on beds as well.”

The Alabama native said he expects to see anything from a 2.8-inch swimbaits up to 6-inch swimbaits, jerkbaits, topwater baits and shaky-head rigs come into play.

“You’re likely to catch a fish under a dock, then another one out in front of the dock on forward-facing sonar, then another one behind the dock on a bed,” Wiggins went on to say. “The fish are that spread out, and that’s going to keep the guys spread out a lot as well.”

As for the winning bag, Wiggins said he expects to see a combination of spotted bass and largemouth bass take home the trophy.

“Most of the checks will be cashed with just spotted bass, but to win the event, I think guys will have to mix it up and have a couple big largemouth as well,” said Wiggins. “I think 15 pounds per day in this event will be really good. This time of year, some of the bass have already spawned, so the fish tend to weigh a lot less, but I think 15 pounds consistently will put anglers in the top 10 for sure.”

Wiggins said despite hosting a lot of bass-fishing tournaments, the fishery is a bit of a “well-known secret”.

“I don’t think a lot of people really realize just how many fish are in Smith Lake,” said Wiggins. “It really gets to show out in March and April, so I think we can expect to see guys pulling in a pile of fish during this event.”

Anglers will launch at 6:30 a.m. CT each day from Smith Lake Park, located at 403 County Road 386 in Cullman. Weigh-ins will also be held at the park and will begin at 2:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend and encouraged to follow the event online through the “MLF Live” weigh-in broadcasts and daily coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

In Toyota Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event, scaling up for every 20 boats over 160 and scaling down for every boat below 160. With a 160-boat field, pros fish for a top prize of up to $75,000, if Phoenix MLF Bonus qualified. Strike King co-anglers cast for the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury or Suzuki outboard (valued at $33,500). With a 260-boat field, pros fish for a top award of up to $100,000, if Phoenix MLF Bonus qualified. Strike King co-anglers cast for the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury or Suzuki outboard plus $5,000 cash.

The 2024 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2025. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2024 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 7-9 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, and is hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Madison County Commission, and the Huntsville Sports Commission.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Toyota Series include: 7Brew, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, BUBBA, E3, Epic Baits, Fishing Clash, FX Custom Rods, General Tire, Lew’s, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Suzuki, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota and YETI.

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