Michigan angler earns more than $38,000 in Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing win

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — He never picked the perfect team and only chose the winner twice all season, but Lainsburg, Mich., angler Calvin Stier took his Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing hobby to the next level by earning a total of 10,121 points over nine Bassmaster Elite Series events in 2014.

By finishing higher than 23,000 other Fantasy Fishing players, Stier netted the competition’s grand prize of a Triton 18XS boat with a Mercury 150 Pro XS motor, Lowrance Mark 5X Fishfinder, Motorguide FW 75 24V trolling motor and single-axle trailer worth a total of more than $38,000.

“When I first started making my picks for this season, it was something I did for fun because it’s a great way to keep up with the anglers and stay involved with the tournaments,” Stier said. “But, when the year started coming to a close, winning became a reality.”

Taking the same approach throughout the entire season, Stier would base his decisions on how each angler performed on the fishery in the past and which anglers were local. Once he set his roster, he left it.

“I took a laid-back approach at the beginning,” Stier said. “I would look at Fantasy Fishing on Bassmaster.com Monday or Tuesday morning at the office. When I had the lead going into the last event, I started following it a lot closer.”

Stier’s strategy was to stay away from the big-name anglers and pick the anglers he thought were fishing the best at the time. He put more emphasis in choosing anglers in the C, D and E brackets, hoping those selections would make it into the Top 50 each tournament.

“The top brackets have a ton of great fishermen, so I put a lot of thought in the lower brackets,” Stier said. “That’s where I got more opportunity to make up some ground.”

The Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship in Escanaba, Mich., was a nail-biter for Stier, who was left waiting along with the anglers as three tournament days were canceled because of strong winds.

“Escanaba proved to be really nerve-racking,” Stier said. “We had to wait for things to shake out over three days with no fishing. I also made the mistake of telling my family I was in the lead before the event. It put a lot of stress on the situation thinking I had a legitimate shot at winning.”

On Monday, when the competition finally concluded, Stier remained in the No. 1 spot, meaning he would be the one to take home the Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing grand prize. Individual tournament winners in Fantasy Fishing were also awarded $2,500 Bass Pro Shops gift cards throughout the year.

“We’re a huge fishing family; it’s just part of our lifestyle,” Stier said. “And, playing Fantasy Fishing is a great opportunity for fishing fans. It’s kind of embarrassing in some ways to say my greatest achievement so far has been winning Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing.”

For more information on Bassmaster’s Fantasy Fishing competition and step-by-step instructions on how to play, visit Bassmasterfantasy.com. Registration for the 2015 tournament season will begin in early February.