Area prepares to host national and local fishing tournaments

ESCANABA – In the upcoming weeks, the Escanaba area will be the host of multiple fishing tournaments, including a stop by the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour, Aug. 29 and 30.

In addition to the Cabela’s event, the Bay de Noc Great Lakes Sports Fisherman Last Chance Walleye Tournament will take place on Sept. 13. Also in September, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship will be held on Sept. 18 through Sept. 21.

The area’s unique location makes for an ideal spot to host national and local fishing tournaments.

“Just in our county we have 211 miles of shoreline,” said Rick Elrod, who is the marketing assistant for the Bay de Noc Convention and Visitors Buereau. “Having that much shoreline is really nice. It makes for a great fish habitiat. We have a lot of shallow waters in our area that make for gerat bass spawning grounds. We’ve been known for great walleye fishing for years, and peope are now starting to realize we have great bass fishing, as well.”

One of the two national tournaments is the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour. The Tour will be making its third stop of the year when it visits Escanaba. The tournament features a pro-am style format and guarantees over 100 percent payback.

Anglers will launch Friday and Saturday mornings at 7 a.m. from the Escanaba River Mouth Launch and take off from Ludington Park Harbor. Weigh-ins are set for the Ludington Park Harbor at 3 p.m. each day.

Each National Walleye Tour tournament features a fully rigged Ranger Boat, and cash, for first place at each event- a total value of $57,000. Anglers that fish all three regular season events, in addition to the top points leaders, will qualify for the three-day entry fee championship.

The tournament offers the chance for Escanaba to gain national exposure. Cabela’s Walleye Tour airs on multiple networks, including the World Fishing Network, Pursuit Channel, and NBC Sports Network.

“A lot of these fishing tournaments come with a lot of national recognitions,” Elrod said.”Cabela’s is a national name. They have film and photography crews that take shots of the area. That’s great adverstizing for our area and for the natural beatuty of our bays and our county.”

The Great Lakes Sports Fisherman will be hosting one of its several fishing contests of the year, in September, with the Last Chance Walleye Tournament. The club also sponsors bass, trout, salmon, and a couple of kids fishing derbies.

“Mostly local people will be fishing in that tournament,” Elrod said about the Last Chance Walleye Tournament. “It gives them a chacne to fish their home spot.”

For the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, it is the culmination of the Bassmaster Elite Series season. This tournament will determine the 2014 Toyata Bassmaster Angler of the Year. The victor earns $100,000. There are also 29 berths at stake in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.

In order for competitors to qualify of the championship, an Elite Series pro must be ranked No. 50 or higher in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points standings after the eight events of the 2014 season. Points are earned by pros and the number of points is based on where each angler finishes at each of the eight events.

“Ending the season-long Toyota Bassaster Angler of the Year race with a dedicated tournament escalates the excitement for fans – and raises the bar for Elite series pros,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director, on the bassmaster website.

With an increased purse, and potential Bassmaster Classic bids on the line, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year is shaping up to be a tournament with increased stakes.

“The total Angler of the Year purse has been increased to $900,000 and pays out from first to 50th place, so all competitors have much at stake, whether or not they’re in contention for the crown,” Weldon said. “Add to that, the heated competition for the 29 Classic berths, and the championship sets up as one of the most exciting events of the entire season.”

Unlike under a traditional format where cuts are made, for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, all 50 fisherman will be able to compete during every day of competition.

The weekend of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year will also feature a Bassmaster University, on Saturday, where fans will be able to interact with the anglers and receive tips.