Man, these Wisconsin fans are something else.
Thursday was the first day of competition at the Mississippi River Rumble in La Crosse, yet the people turned out in droves.
I was blown away by the number of spectator boats on the water and how many people were floating around carrying KVD signs.
Of course, the fact I’m from Michigan helps my popularity here in the North, but you can tell these fans are glad to have all of us here.
Thursday’s weigh-in produced one of the largest crowds I’ve seen for the first day of a tournament. You can tell these folks in the North are hungry for a major tournament.
The fishery is pretty darn good, too. It’s fertile and full of smallmouth and largemouth. Nearly everyone is catching a lot of fish. Unfortunately, we’re fishing during a postspawn period so getting the big fish isn’t easy, but the system is loaded with 2- to 3-pounders.
Next week we are at Green Bay, a venue I expected to produce one of the best weigh-ins B.A.S.S. has ever held on a northern fishery.
Sadly – and not just for our sake but also for tourism and the people who live in that area – local biologists decided to reduce our fishing waters which will prevent us from showcasing that region as one of the country’s best smallmouth fisheries.
After the site was announced, biologists tightened the amount of water we can fish, leaving us to fish less productive waters. That caught B.A.S.S. officials off guard and will no doubt prevent us from helping to give that fishery the reputation it deserves. It also cost that area thousands of dollars in lost tourism revenue since we won’t be able to show the fishery’s capabilities like we have at Falcon, Amistad, Kentucky and Pickwick lakes.
There will be fish caught in that event, but we will be confined to an area where the habitat is not as good as what lies outside the DNR’s boundaries.
State officials say they are concerned that the smallmouth we might catch in the lower bay are different than the ones we could catch in the upper bay and don’t want them moved around. We all know that’s a non-issue because smallmouth bass are notorious for traveling great distances. Any fisherman knows that.
They said they also are concerned we would kill fish carrying them a longer distance in our livewells. They obviously haven’t done their homework or they’d realize that B.A.S.S. has the lowest mortality record of any other tournament organization and that our guys’ boats are equipped with the best livewell systems to take care of the fish.
We KNOW how catch and release benefits a fishery; and while we never want to kill a bass, we legally could take our five fish a day and fillet them.
Of course, we wouldn’t do that.
The last-minute decision to limit us makes me think that biologists don’t know what our events are truly about, or they simply have a grudge with bass fishing tournaments.
It’s especially disheartening for me. As a Northerner, I know how great the fishing is in this part of the country and how badly Northern anglers want to see more B.A.S.S. events on their waters. The short seasons in the North make it tough enough, yet nonsensical decisions like we have encountered in Green Bay make it even tougher.
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!