Sturgeon Bay Bass Open Starts Today


The Sturgeon Bay Bass Open starts today. It's one of the largest pure smallmouth tournaments in the world. If not the very largest. Every year it attracts hundreds of competitors, set as it is in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin. Surrounded by Lake Michigan, Door County harbors some of the most exemplary smallmouth fishing anywhere. A participant boating 50 or more averaging 3 pounds or better — per day — is common. But a 3-pound average, in this tournament, is chump change. Last year fish of 6 and 7 pounds were weighed in. You need to average 4 pounds or better both days just to be a player in the SBO.


SBO created some of the most vivid smallmouth memories of my life. My partner in crime, Captain Tim Dawidiuk, fished the two-day event with me for 10 years. We won the tournament in our first attempt — in 1998. We finished third in 2003, and overall I believe we posted five top-10 finishes, cashing a check in all but one of those ten events.

!--nextpage--


Every smallmouth angler should visit this micropterus Mecca. The water is like air, the smallmouths 25 feet deep look like exotic birds flying through nothing. The surroundings are spectacular, with archipelagos of islands stretching out into Green Bay and beyond. (Sounds like something Buzz Lightbeer would say. "To Green Bay and beyond!")

Almost every day in practice and during the tournament we popped walleyes in the 4- to 10-pound neighborhood (nice neighborhood to be in). Sometimes a big brown trout would rip into one of our suspending baits — and we had to take the time to land it because we needed every bait we could possibly keep in the boat, with all those big toothies swimming around. Dawidiuk had many multiple 20-pound-plus-pike days while guiding around the Door. And tournament contestants worked their way through the crowd many times at weigh ins to show me digital shots of muskies over 50 inches they brought in with smallmouth tackle.

This smallmouth, however, was caught by accident yesterday while fishing with famous guide, Tony Roach in Minnesota. But it's A/ representative of the average size bass we caught most days in the waters surrounding Sturgeon Bay — in that 4-pound neighborhood, and B/ it was caught using the same method that worked so well for us in the SBO for all those years — slowly swimming plastics on light jigs with light, 4- and 5-pound monofilament lines. Colors and styles may vary, but the technique is exactly the same — a slow, do-nothing swim somewhere between bottom and half way to the surface. When the water's like air, smallmouths will rise 5, 8, even 10 feet to hit plastics moving at the right speed. Out on northern Green Bay, we often watched smallies rise slowly and strike the bait — a real nerve bender. Memory candy.

Those were special years, fishing in the SBO. Many of the competitors are good friends. Good luck to all this week. Just remember — you can win the SBO, but you can't lose it.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Walleye

Spring is Prime Time for River Walleyes

Dan Johnson - February 22, 2018

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites.

Recipes

Blackened Fish Recipe

Tommy Thompson

Blackened fish ready to serve with a side of okra and cucumber-red onion salad. This recipe is...

Bass

Topwater Lure Secrets for Bass

Jim Edlund - April 26, 2018

These secrets will put more and bigger bass in your boat!

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Secrets to Busting Big Fish

The In-Fisherman staff tackles super-tough customers, trolling up 50-inch muskies!

Tactical Changes for Smallmouths

Doug Stange deploys an one unique in-line spinnerbiat option for smallmouths.

What's New from Cummings Nets?

There's more than meets the eye with new Cummings Nets Red Line. Find out what. With Mike Powell of Cummings and Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Pike & Muskie

How To Catch Pike In Spring

Dan Johnson - April 26, 2016

Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at...

Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

See More Stories

More Bass

Bass

How to Catch More Creek Smallmouth

Jim Gronaw - May 21, 2018

Throughout the U.S., plenty of smallmouth water resembles trout streams more than "classic"...

Bass

Bahr Bassin' Family

Steve Quinn - November 28, 2018

Kyle and Tyler Bahr grew up with one thing on their mind; bass fishing.

Bass

Snapping a Tube Finds Aggressive Smallmouth

Joe Balog - August 06, 2018

It's no surprise that "snapping a tube" will find smallmouths.

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×