The statewide bass tournament is coming to the St. Marys River
Sault Ste. MARIE — The state fishing tournament will end with one final competition on the beaches of Sault Ste. Marie.
Beginning Friday, September 22, the Sault will host the final fishing challenge of the 2023 D and R Championship Series.
Run by the D and R Sports Center, the Bass Fishing Tournament draws anglers across the state to lakes, rivers and fishing holes everywhere. The tournament took several months of qualifying challenges and will conclude with the final event next week.
Three years ago, when looking for new fishing locations, Tournament began looking at the Sault Ste. Marie due to its popularity in other fishing tournaments and easy access to the water. While most fishing events on the St. Marys River focus on walleye or whitefish, bass numbers remain strong, and they are relatively underfished compared to other more popular fishing species.
“The St Marys River is a great place to fish, the fisheries are in place here to keep the environment in check and there are a large number of smallmouth bass,” tournament director Cyrus Rowell said. “People in the area often focus on walleye and salmon while ignoring bass, when bass are prolific in good size and numbers.”
Anglers can cross a large portion of the St. Marys River during the tournament. More than 75 boats can spread out for miles on the river, with the eastern edge of the Soo Locks being the tournament’s western boundary. Anglers can go as far south and east as Drummond Island to find the best fishing spots.
Anglers will go to the river in teams of two on one boat, and together they will catch five fish. At the end of each day of the tournament, each boat will have five fish weighed, and whoever has the 10 biggest fish after two days is the winner.
As the final event of the season, this tournament will be the biggest and most prestigious prize in the tournament. Winners will receive a cash prize of approximately $8,000. The second and third places will also receive cash prizes, with the amount determined according to the number of participating boats.
The day before the competition begins, competitors will gather at Christopher Columbus Hall in downtown Sault City. At this banquet, anglers will have a final opportunity to celebrate and reminisce about their season, while prizes are awarded to the finalists from all the different divisions of the tournament.
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The next morning, anglers will gather again on the St. Marys River to compete.
To reach this stage of competition, anglers must have competed in multiple division events throughout the past season, and completed at least 40 hours of fishing.
The tournament kicks off at the William R. Gregory Boat Launch at 1225 Riverside Dr. Saturday morning, and continues for two days.
Competitive anglers have already qualified and most have registered for the event, but fans are welcome to watch the launch, fishing and weigh-in of the final event at the boat launch.
All anglers aim to keep the catch alive and healthy and will receive a point deduction if the fish dies at weigh-in. Anglers are expected to release any fish exceeding the five-fish limit, and all weighed catches are inspected by Salt Tribe Fisheries before being released back into the river.
— Contact Brendan Wiesner: BWiesner@Sooeveningnews.com