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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Anglers fish during the Fishing League Worldwide Bass Fishing League Regional Championship tournament Thursday, October 25, 2018 held on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee. More than 200 anglers took part in the event. The grand prize winner will get a boat and a check for $20,000, and the top co-angler will get a new boat.

This story was updated Jan. 25, 2019, at 4:38 p.m. with more information.

Another major fishing tournament is coming to Dayton, Tennessee, and this time it will be televised on the Discovery Channel.

Major League Fishing announced Friday that Rhea County will be the fourth destination in its inaugural season of the Bass Pro Tour, anchoring a tournament that includes stops in Florida, Texas and North Carolina. The tournament will be for the top 80 anglers in the world and is by invitation only.

"It's one thing to have Toho, Conroe and the untapped fisheries like Falls, Jordan and Harris to start the season, but to have 'The Chick' in the cleanup position makes this early season lineup amazing," said Michael Mulone, MLF Senior Director of Events and Partnerships, via a statement. "You're likely to see some big-time home runs coming from the best hammers in all of fishing at this Dayton stop."

The tournament will be April 9-14 and will play a significant role in who wins the events, according to a release from MLF.

The event will be live streamed each day at majorleaguefishing.com and will be turned into a two-hour television show that will air on the Discovery Channel in the fourth quarter of 2019. It will repeat on the Sportsman Channel in 2020.

"We are thrilled to have this opportunity to bring the MLF Bass Pro Tour to our backyard in its inaugural season," said Dennis Tumlin, executive director of economic development for Rhea County and director of Dayton's 'Fish Dayton' brand, via a statement. "It's a great matching of our exceptional bass fishing to the sport's most exciting competition in MLF's catch, weigh and immediate-release format."

Rhea County has structured a growing economy around its fishing industry. It's becoming a regular stop for tournaments and has been so successful that Hamilton County is copying its blueprint.

Its popularity has attracted a number of professional anglers to live near the 36,240-acre lake and some who call the area home have since passed the million-dollar milestone in career tournament earnings, including Michael Neal, Andy Morgan, Wesley Strader, Jacob Wheeler and John Murray. The five are expected to fish in the tournament, Tumlin said.

"Rhea County is proud to showcase our world-class fishery during one of the prime times of the season for giant double-digit bass," Rhea County Mayor George Thacker said in a statement.

MLF launched in 2011 after a group of anglers met to discuss the future of the sport. They didn't want to compete with the already popular Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S) series and the FLW Series; the group felt those were already serving positive roles for the fishing community.

Its new Bass Pro Tour was launched as a television-centric series to complement the already existing series and grow the fan base with the new series. The group believed the personalities of the fishermen weren't coming across to fans, so they launched a new style of tournament.

The MLF tournaments feature surprise venues, no practice days, real-time leader boards in each boat, no limits on the number of fish weighed, time-based deadlines and weight-based cut lines.

The organizers put less emphasis on the fish caught and more emphasis on the personalities, the struggles, strategies, conflicts and emotions of anglers, according to MLF.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.

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