Anglers battle weather as B.A.S.S. Nation State Championship kicks off

ESCANABA – A torrential downpour that persisted throughout much of Friday afternoon wasn’t enough to stop the competitors of the Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation 2013 State Championship from hitting the Bays de Noc Friday.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the tournament, and also the first time it has taken place in Escanaba. Many of the fishermen traveled a long way to compete in the event, so they weren’t going to let a little storm get in their way.

“We wanted to do something special for our 40th,” said Michigan B.A.S.S. Nation President Paul Sacks. “We’re very happy with the start. We were a little disappointed with this much rain, but you never can predict the weather.”

He added that the anglers understand that fact, and they are ready to cope with whatever comes their way.

“Fishing is something where you have to adjust to conditions, and that’s what these guys have done,” he said.

Bill Head finished atop the leaderboard after the first day of competition as he brought in five fish with a total weight of 20.18 lbs.

He was followed by Jarrod Sherwood and Greg Glasser. Each of them also brought in five fish, with total weights of 19.96 and 19.75, respectively.

Victor Cole and Brandon Rose rounded out the top five for the day. Cole had four fish weighing in at 18.24 lbs, while Rose had five fish that totaled 17.68 lbs.

Many of the anglers taking part in the event weren’t overly upset if they didn’t have a particularly successful outing, because there is always another day of fishing ahead of them.

Bruce Reeves of Fenton, Mich. had a decent outing despite the weather, netting four fish for a total of 13.89 lbs, and one of those fish weighed in at 5.05 lbs.

“Today turned out alright, but it was rough,” he said. “For us, it didn’t start storming until around 10 a.m. The turnout was alright, although it’s a long drive for some of the guys. But it’s a great opportunity, and this is a great fishery out here.”

Paul Rambo of Sault Ste. Marie said he is the only Yooper taking part in the event. He only caught one fish on the day, but it weighed in at 5.04 lbs.

“It was fun out there,” he said. “It was probably the wettest day of fishing I’ve ever had in my life short of swimming for something.”

Rambo has been fishing competitively since 1978.

“I stayed in the middle of Big Bay all day long,” he said. “I had a very, very good spot, but it required sun, of which we had a very limited supply of today. When it did come out, we got four fish.”

He added that much like everyone else, he hopes it dries out a little for Saturday.

“That’s all you can do,” he said. “Hope you catch 25-26 lbs worth of fish. And you can do it in this water.”

Of the 88 anglers competing in the event, 13 will advance to the Northern Divisional team, which will compete in Indiana in August 2014.