Fishing tournaments and conferences in Saginaw Bay attract international media and tourists here
When it comes to casting a shadow over the local economy, you won’t find fisherman John Gilman sitting on his bass.
Gilman, owner of Advanced Tex Screen Printing (ATS Printing) on Three Mile Road in Bay City for more than six years, is also a national championship pro for more than 23 years. In early August, Gilman hosted the MLF (Major Catch League) Writers’ Conference at ATS. Anglers, journalists, camera crews, social media teams and magazines from all over the country attended the annual event.
This is not the first time that our fisheries have been on the international stage. the National Professional Fishing Association Bring a fishing tournament to this area from July 16th to 22nd. Then, from August 1 to August 6, Major league catch The 80 best anglers in the world are invited to participate in a tournament in Bay County. (Learn more about tournaments in our February 9 Route Bay City article.)
Mark Zona, Mike Falster, and Mike Falster spoke with vendors, fishermen, and reporters during the premier fishing writers conference held in Bay County in August.The impact of the ATS’s tournaments and media event will be felt for years.
“Many fishing brands have been brought together by one man, Mike Falster,” Gilman says. “He drives everything. We also work with these brands as their clothing designers here (at ATS). We make clothes for Sunline, Gamakatsu and Aftco.
The three companies and more were established inside the huge ATS print hall, which saw Fishermen make the rounds among the companies and the press.
“Mike brought in the professionals,” says Gilman. “They get some gifts and products from the companies that sponsor them.”
Companies also bring media, magazines, and more. National publications such as Field and Stream and Fishing Tackle Retailer are represented.
“Photography, Essays, Stories, these different pros talk about their season. They can get photography content for social media ads, magazine ads, and stories. They can work with a specific pro on a specific lure or product they used during the season and they can write a story about that product.
Bassmaster Wes Logan, who never fished in Bay City, was here.
He notes, “I heard it’s a good catch.” “I think we’ll be in quite a few magazines in connection with this event. Lots of online and catalog stuff. That’s going to be the main focus all this week.”
As a fresh and saltwater fishing fanatic from Iowa, Falster moved around the ATS as a gang leader, and was thrilled to see the success of the first meeting day.
“We try to highlight local places,” says Falster. “Highlighting the community with fishing, Bassmaster, the best fishing spots. Most of them have never been to Lake Huron or Bay City. There will be mentions and videos for the next two or three years. The stories are underdeveloped.”
Both championships and the Writers’ Conference have won praise for the fishing opportunities in the Saginaw River and Bay. Experts believe the area is about to gain interest from amateur fishermen looking for new vacation spots.The annual event attracts international anglers.
“We try to catch the guys when they’re done working somewhere, so they’re all in one place already,” Falster says. “These 14-15 professional anglers here tonight were only in Detroit. So it was easy to get them all here. We have Jeff Gustafson who is the current Classic Champion, he’s from Canada. He won the Bassmaster Classic this year and he’ll be here tomorrow We have four Canadians, we have Masayuki Matsushita, who is a Japanese fisherman.
Matsushita, through an interpreter, praised the local fisheries.
Masayuki Matsushita, a professional from Japan, enthusiastically praised the abundant fish he discovered in Saginaw River and Bay.“I like good weather and lots of fish,” Matsushita shares with us through a translator. Then he talked about fishing in Bay City last year alone. “No tournament, just fishing. Many fish. Many fresh fish! Catch, catch, catch, catch! Lots of fish.”
Falster agreed, adding, “Fish is a renewable resource. If the big pro tournament like this one comes, the smaller ones will come. Gas, food… These guys are from Georgia, Texas, 105 (degrees) for 10 days. It’s a huge relief to come here and put on a sweatshirt in the morning, it feels (like) a holiday.
The weather and excellent fishing bring the best anglers here. And they will share the news with others.
“Some of these guys have over 100,000 YouTube followers, and they’ll do whatever they want,” Falster smiles. “It’s likely to be seen by 30,000 to 40,000 people.”
Gilman adds, “Gerald Swindell is staying at the camp in Linwood. He didn’t want a hotel room. That’s how he and his wife live their lives. He’s probably in the top three or four with an incredible following (and) a very funny comedian. And he’s going to do a video.” About certain clothes. He made an Aftco shirt a few weeks ago and he’s going to sell hundreds of clothes overnight. He’s just such a great human being. All these guys are something special. They’re the biggest in the world, we’ve got three or four Tiger Woods players coming here tonight.
Swindle praised the event.
Anglers said they are pleased with the fishing and recreational opportunities on land throughout Bay County.“We started working at the end of March (with ATS) and it’s been a huge success,” says Swindell. “These guys are legit. Now they’re doing another one of my social influencer friends who’s on TikTok, Zach Rushing. He’s got 8 million followers across the board. They just made him 10,000 shirts. He’s a Facebook/YouTube type guy. He sells.” His comedy tours everywhere he goes, and he packs up at home.
Mark Zona, host of ESPN’s Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show and resident of Sturgis, Michigan, was enjoying the glow of the area.
“I just covered Master Bass in St. Clair,” he shares. “I grew up doing tournaments in Saginaw Bay. Last year I taped three shows there. I grew up doing events and it was always around the country. From a completely selfish standpoint, it’s great that we have one in our state.
During the conference, the writers collected materials to be used over the next year.“My show is very Michigan-centric and has been around for about 20 years. “I’m selfish, I love our Lakes show and even though it’s a national show, my season is 13 different episodes, and there’s always six shows in Michigan.”
Michigan is attractive to many anglers. “We just finished Lake St. Clair in the Elite Series,” says Swindell. “We came here to do the writers’ tour for Aftco and Sunlight. I’ve never been here. We love traveling here at this time of year to fish because it’s so much nicer than where we live.
Hunter Mike McClelland, while eating earlier in the day, remarked that he also liked the area.
“I am really excited about the opportunity to be here,” he shares. “Just with a little bit of driving I’ve done, it’s a really nice looking area. I think there are opportunities to catch both species, as I’ve heard the walleye fishing is incredible. I’ve always heard of Gilman’s place here, ATS and it’s great to see “It’s really his origin. I live in South Branson, Missouri, in Table Rock. This is very different to me. Our neck of the woods is the Ozarks. We have a lot of hills and valleys and deep, clear rocky lakes. This is a little different. I’m looking forward to it.”
Glenn May of bassresource.com, the world’s largest bass website, was amazed at the event.
“We’re based in Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest,” he notes. I flew in today for this. This is a great industry event and it’s the third I’ve been to. I’m going to be shooting about 50 videos in 2 days on the boats with the pros. We shoot a bunch of ‘how-to’ videos. We feature all the products and all the manufacturers that are here This is great content that I can post throughout the year.”
During the conference, fishermen and journalists browsed fishing gear.In the week following the event, Gilman would briskly walk, grinning from ear to ear to close out the show. Slamming his fist on the table with a smile, he indicated that there were very few people who understood the extent of the economic impact of this event.
“To bring her into the community, they have no idea what you’re doing,” he shares, arms wide. “They had a high school and college bass fishing event a few summers ago. It was crazy. 250 boats. Kids from all over the US with their families and friends. They say to social media and it blows up. So it has such a huge impact on the community.”
The drive to fuel this area was recognized in the state in the previous week and will continue into the next year as well.
On the heels of last week’s NPFL (National Professional Fishing League) Bass Championship, Kevin Van Damme, the greatest fisherman of all time in fishing from Michigan, retires this week, after this event here in Bay City. It showed the area is huge, people come from All over the country and then they go home and they talk about fisheries, they talk about downtown Bay City.
Gilman was keen to note that the surrounding areas also benefited from this event.
“Many men were hunting all over the other districts; Sebewaing, Caseville, Port Austin, Quanicassee, Au Gres, Standish, Linwood, Pinconning, all the way around this body of water. And all the way (the river) to downtown Saginaw – they were all over the place, helping all the communities here locally. Thanks to Bay City for bringing, hosting, and staying downtown, helping everyone out. What’s left for years to come is what matters.”
City Commissioner Ed Clements, who has been instrumental in bringing fishing tournaments to the area, says the work is just beginning.
Hunters, journalists, photo crews, social media teams, and magazines from across the country attended the Hunting Writers Association’s annual conference in August. “The state of Grand Valley is doing a survey, and they’re sending it out to all the hunters, all the tournament staff, anybody who came here,” Clements says. “Thanks to this data, they will be able to conduct their study. It is like a dream come true. You guys are on the edge of existence,” said the NPFL guys who were here last week. the A fishing destination. Obviously hunting is a big part of it, but the other part is that men want to come and bring their families and there is so much for everyone to do. Fish, golf, restaurants and stuff for the kids.
Fishermen, Gilman agreed, are looking for more than just fish.
Many visitors to tournaments and writers’ conferences have millions of followers on social media. They have created content praising the excellent fishing here.“Fishing is a very big part of where we live, along with concerts and what Mike Pakgialupo brings,” Gilman says. “This downtown area is unbelievable. It’s a huge deal. The amount of financial impact on the community is massive. These people have been moved, fired, gassed, eaten… It’s a massive impact on the community this time of year. Down Tawas to Port Austin was the clincher.
Clements is already looking at what to do to bring more anglers to the area.
“The next thing we need to do in the future is to invest in our parks and boat launches. This is the key to the future,” he says.