Saturday, June 22, 2024

Toyota Angler Of The Year Championship Bound For Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

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The nation’s top bass anglers will compete for more than $1 million in payouts and berths in the 2016 Bassmaster Classic during the 2015 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, Sept. 17-20, on Sturgeon Bay out of Door County, Wis. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Aaron Martens clinched his third AOY title early after earning enough points at Detroit’s Lake St. Clair event.
Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster

Toyota Angler Of The Year Championship Bound For Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

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DOOR COUNTY, Wis. — More than $1 million in payouts and coveted berths in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro are on the line for the nation’s Top-50 bass anglers as they compete in the season-ending Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship Sept. 17-20 on the legendary waters of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Typically, this is the event that determines the season’s best Elite Series angler, but after one of the most dominating seasons in history, Aaron Martens locked up the 2015 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title at the end of the regular season. Martens earned his third AOY title after his sixth-place finish at Detroit’s Lake St. Clair gave him the necessary points.

Renowned area guide Bret Alexander of Alexander Sport Fishing says the anglers who are accomplished at interpreting sonar will likely be the most consistent through three days of competition.

“I really believe that 20 pounds of smallmouth bass, or better, per day will be required to win this event,” Alexander said. “Staying on fish of that caliber could be accomplished by fishing deep humps and ledges.”

A 25- to 26-pound daily limit of five smallmouth is possible, but he doesn’t think weights like that will be sustainable throughout the tournament.

During the 2014 Angler of the Year Championship out of Escanaba, Mich., high winds kept competitors onshore three consecutive days and shortened the event to only two days of competition.  To keep that from happening again, tournament officials have expanded the waters open to fishing. In the event of strong westerly winds, the pros will be permitted to fish Lake Michigan on the east side of Door Peninsula.

“The Lake Michigan back-up plan could be very interesting if we get a strong westerly blow,” Alexander explained. “There are some big fish on that side of the peninsula, but the numbers can’t compare to Green Bay.”

After a successful 2015 Toyota Bassmaster Elite Series rookie season, Seth Feider considers Sturgeon Bay one of his favorite fisheries. Although the angler fell short of the Top 50 cut by only eight spots, he is confident in how he would approach the tournament if he were fishing.

“I’d keep several bait combinations on the deck of my boat,” said the Minnesota resident. “A small- and medium-size swimbait, wacky rigged Senko, a drop shot and a deep-diving Shadow Rap would be my go-to baits — I know those presentations will catch fish.”

The smallmouth bass in Sturgeon Bay and surrounding areas are experiencing increased growth and age structure with lots of large fish.

“The Sturgeon Bay region has also been experiencing tremendous recruitment in recent years,” explained David Boyarski, Northern Lake Michigan Fisheries Supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “With lots of young smallmouth bass coming into the system, we are confident that the strength of the fishery will continue to be outstanding.”

Takeoffs will be held out of CenterPointe Marina at 6:30 a.m. CT. Afternoon weigh-ins will be held in the same location beginning at 3:15 p.m. where the Top 50 pros will compete for a combined purse of $1 million and a 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic berths.

On Saturday, Sept. 19, all 50 anglers will participate in Bassmaster University, which will take place during the day at Stone Harbor Resort & Conference Center. Anglers, including former AOYs Kevin VanDam, Michael Iaconelli and Skeet Reese, will be available for meet-and-greets, bass-fishing advice and seminars. Local vendors and sponsors will also be on-hand to discuss products and services.

Also on Saturday as part of its Bassmaster Fan and Military Appreciation Day, B.A.S.S. will give a special commemorative Bassmaster cap to the first 250 military service members who come to the B.A.S.S. booth with a military identification card. All 50 Elite anglers will be on hand to sign autographs as well.

Activities planned throughout the weekend are free and open to the public. Companies like Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton, and Yamaha will have booths at the expo and will offer demo rides. Toyota, Carhartt, Berkley, Booyah, Humminbird, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mustang, Plano, Power-Pole, Shimano, Rigid Industries and Costa Sunglasses, will also exhibit.

For more event information, including the Bassmaster University schedule, visit Bassmaster.com.

The local hosts for the event are the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center and the Door County Visitor Bureau.

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