Lester: Sizing up Sturgeon Bay

Normally in these columns I discuss the technique I think our next Bassmaster event will be won on and what I plan to use going into practice. I got to looking at this event and figured either a tube or a dropshot would be the deal up here at Sturgeon Bay. At last year’s AOY Championship on Bays de Noc I talked about a tube and the last event on St. Clair I talked about a dropshot and the tube so you can see my thoughts on those techniques.

Since we’ve covered those two already I think the biggest thing I can help you all with is how to break down a new fishery like Sturgeon Bay. And the biggest tip I can give you is to get good electronics and learn how to use them along with the Navionics chip.

In my Raymarine units I use the Hot Maps Platinum edition by Navionics. There’s a premium edition available too, but the Platinum version has 1-foot increments and I love it. I would honestly have a hard time fishing a lake without the platinum chip. I stopped at Bass Pro Shops to get the North edition for this event. For most of our events the Eastern map has worked but Sturgeon Bay is classified in the North. On the trip to California and Arizona I used the West chip so I’ve got all the directions covered now.

The chip will really help you find all the key places to start a search for offshore smallmouth and then help as you begin looking for the more subtle spots that will hold quality fish. These Great Lakes smallmouth always seem to be sitting right on the edge of a dropoff. Rarely will you find schools of smallmouth a mile off the break line up on a flat. It is very much like ledge fishing on Kentucky Lake so it is a lot of fun in my opinion.

The Raymarine electronics I use in my boat are the two A-125 (two) and E-127 that I rely heavily on when fishing new waters like Sturgeon Bay. I also have been testing out an Aqua Vu camera to get real-time views of what my electronics are showing me down there. On fisheries where smallmouth, walleye and pike all live and cohabitate in the same locations, this tool can be a big help.

While A-Mart has already wrapped up the Bassmaster Toyota Angler of the Year Championship, this event still means something to all 50 of us. Whether we are trying to nail down a Classic berth, earn extra AOY money, notch a Bassmaster win or make it to the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, there’s plenty of incentive to get out there on Sturgeon Bay and find the mother lode.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Bassmaster Elite Series anglers in my two years it is that we’re a competitive bunch. We could be fishing for $500 in a fruit jar come Thursday morning and the competitive fire would be burning in all of us. I know it will be for me!