STURGEON BAY, Wis. — The sight of a big, brown smallmouth gets the blood pumping for many bass anglers, especially those of us who live in the South and don't get to see them as often as some.
For me, they're just plain mesmerizing to look at.
If you feel the same way, you should tune in to coverage of the Toyota Angler of the Year Championship on Bassmaster.com, Sept. 17-20, from Sturgeon Bay, and prepare to be mesmerized.
I spent some time on Sturgeon Bay June 17-20 with a group from Abu Garcia, and I was blown away by what the lake has to offer.
The fish were spawning during my trip,and the shallow coves and offshore flats were dotted with 3- to 5-pound smallies. With the water so crystal-clear, you could just cruise around with the trolling motor on high until you spotted one that suited you.
On my second day there, I even decided to have some fun by joining an online Twitter chat with 2015 BASSfest champion Edwin Evers that was organized by B.A.S.S.’s Tyler Wade to give fans a chance to ask Evers about his recent victory at Kentucky Lake.
I had already talked to him about all that. So instead, I decided to ask him for advice on how to catch the smallmouth I was sight-fishing for at that exact moment.
The entire exchange, which took only about five minutes, went like this:
Edwin, I'm sight fishing for a stubborn smallmouth on bed right now. Any advice?
You turkey, that's not fair!
Looks like you don't need my help after all!
For once, I actually didn’t need his help.
You don’t have to be an Elite Series pro to catch big smallmouth bass on this amazing fishery. So imagine what the actual Elite Series pros are going to do when they arrive next week for the AOY Championship.
I know it won’t be a pick-and-choose sight-fishing situation for the pros in September, but they’ll find them. Mark my words, weather-permitting, someone will blow your mind with a five-fish limit of bronze-colored bass during that event.
It’ll be a blast watching the Top 50 pros in the AOY standings bring the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series season to a close in that setting.
The entire area has a unique feel to it with turkey- and deer-filled pastures, dozens of wineries that host regular tasting events and cheese shops with samples readily available in every corner. If you're making the trip, I highly recommend the 2-year-old white cheddar from Renard’s Cheese and Deli, but the cheese curds you find in all of the quick marts are an acquired taste, for sure.
The lake, which stays at least partially frozen December-March, is massive, and it’ll certainly present its own list of challenges. If the wind blows 12 to 15 miles per hour and the waves reach 4 to 5 feet, pros in standard bass rigs will learn quickly why all of the locals use giant fiberglass models equipped with full windshields and 300-horsepower outboards.
It’ll be chilly, too. Highs usually average in the low to mid-60s for Sturgeon Bay in September, with lows that sometimes dip into the low 40s.
But I've seen what's swimming in this lake, and I don't think any of that will be enough to keep the pros from putting on a smallmouth exhibition.
If you're a smallmouth enthusiast — and aren't we all — you'll want to make some time to watch this event.