Tomorrow, the Advance Auto Parts 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series fishing tournament is coming to Lake St. Clair. The Bassmaster Elite Series is the highest level of professional bass fishing tournaments. Competitors must qualify for the series through the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens or the B.A.S.S. Nation, and anglers who are already on the Elite Series must requalify each year by maintaining enough points throughout the season. The pro anglers compete all season for the opportunity to win points toward the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year award and to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. The tournament on Lake St. Clair is the final of the series and will run from Thursday, Aug. 24 through Sunday, Aug. 27. Over 100 of the world’s best anglers will compete for a prize of $100,000!
It is clearly no easy feat to quality for these tournaments, but through their marshal program, B.A.S.S. has created an opportunity for even the most novice of fishermen to experience the life of a pro angler. At B.A.S.S., they rely heavily on marshals; they are the tournament’s “eyes and ears” on the water.
As a marshal, it is your responsibility to make sure the anglers follow all tournament rules. Moreover, you are not allowed to share information with pro contestants that would help them catch, locate or navigate to fish. Not only do they protect the integrity of the sport, but marshals enter every fish weight into BASSTrakk phones, allowing everyone to keep up with the tournament. Marshals are also asked to send in photos for the Elite live blog. Being a marshal is one of the most unique experiences a bass fishing fan can participate in. The fan will get to spend two entire days with an Elite Series angler and see firsthand how they work.
My husband, Tom Minaudo, an avid bass fisherman and fan, experienced being a marshal in 2015, the last time Lake St. Clair hosted an Elite Series tournament. Tom arrived at Lake St. Clair Metropark bright and early on the first day of the tournament, ready to spend 8 hours with a pro angler. Once he was aboard a high-end bass boat, he enjoyed a 70-miles-per-hour cruise across Lake St. Clair. When they arrived at the fishing spot, the angler shared fishing tips and tactics.
“I learned what type of equipment they use for certain fishing techniques,” said Tom. “For example, he told me why he chose to use a certain rod and reel selection, what type of fishing line worked best, and the knots and bait that yielded the best results.”
Tom’s pro angler also showed him the electronics he used to pinpoint fish and shared some casting techniques to land the best bass. Tom marshalled for two anglers and said that both the anglers he accompanied were extremely friendly. They made every effort to show him a good time by catching fish and engaging in friendly conservation.
“Although I was there to regulate and to make sure the angler did not break any rules, the experience felt like we were a team out on the water. To me, it was more of a caddy-player relationship than being a referee.”
Tom said that his best moment as a marshal occurred the first evening after they returned from fishing. The pro angler Tom accompanied called him so that he could personally thank him for a great day on the water, and they talked for 30 minutes like old friends.
Marshal spots for all 2017 tournaments are filled. However, registration for the 2018 tournaments opens in November. Click here for more information on being a marshal and the 2018 registration dates!
Amanda Minaudo is a senior planner in the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. She often contributes to the Make Macomb Your Home Blog, writing about the many fun and exciting things to see and do around Macomb County.