By Don Lowe • Photos Courtesy of MLF • Photographer, Justin Onslow
Once again, top-notch professional fishermen will converge on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees at Wolf Creek Park in Grove, Oklahoma, as they get set to compete in the prestigious 2021 Toyota Series Plains Division Qualifying Event April 8-10.
This is a lucrative opportunity for participants, and Donnie Crain, president of Grove Area Chamber of Commerce, explains, “It’s a win-and-you’re-in format.
“The tournament winner automatically places in the Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning $200,000 cash, plus profitable contingency bonuses, like the $35,000 FLW Phoenix perk offered this season.
“The winning co-angler at the championship earns a $33,500 Phoenix 518 Pro Bass Boat, or comparable model, with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.”
As for those who will compete, Crain says, “The Plains Division is primarily represented by anglers from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
“There will also be some from other states, such as Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska and Texas, since there are no official boundaries, and anglers will often compete in multiple divisions to increase their odds of fishing in the Toyota Series Championship.
“There are only three qualifying events in the Plains Division. We have our event at Grand Lake, along with a tournament at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas.”
These are highly competitive, and Crain says, “The Toyota Series provides anglers an opportunity to earn a reputation and record that could eventually allow them to fish in the Major League Fishing series.”
These specific fishing waters in Northeast Oklahoma are an ideal tournament location, and Crain says, “The Toyota Series has a number of qualifiers each year. Since 2014, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees has had a qualifying event seven of the eight years. There wasn’t one in 2020 (because of COVID-19).”
In describing exactly what makes this a prime spot, Crain says, “Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees has a reputation among anglers as one of America’s top bass fisheries, while producing large bass and good quantities of them.
“Grove’s Wolf Creek Park is a world-class fishing tournament facility, but it’s more than that. The Grand River Dam Authority, the City of Grove, the Grove Convention & Tourism Bureau and volunteers such as the Grove Rotary Club and businesses like Classic Golf Carts all go above and beyond to provide first-class service to the anglers, tournament organizers and fans alike to have a truly great tournament experience.
“Events like this truly highlight one of the gems of Oklahoma, the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, and introduces many people to our amazing part of Oklahoma.
“One visit to Grove and Grand Lake is usually the first of many, with many people choosing to purchase second homes here or increasingly choosing to move here and enjoy the ‘Grand Life’ full-time.”