Some of the best anglers in the country are coming to Lake St. Clair this weekend for the 2018 FLW Tour, the most competitive tour in professional bass-fishing. At stake – more than $125,000 in prizes. That’s quite a purse, and it will surely make for an exciting competition. But for those of us who have limited knowledge of fishing, it’s worth diving into some of the details to fully understand what all this means. So today, I’ll break down what’s going to happen Thursday, June 28 through Sunday, July 1 on the shores of Macomb County.
For starters, FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the organization and its partners conduct 286 bass-fishing tournaments around the world, including events in the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.
The FLW Tour has visited Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River five times previously, with 2018 marking the sixth visit in the Tour’s 23-year history. Why so many repeat visits? Well, according to USA Today, “among both American and Canadian lakes, Lake St. Clair is almost without peer, not only in the quality of the fishery, but also its diversity.” That’s quite an impressive statement, but there’s certainly evidence backing it up. For example, when the Tour last visited Michigan in August 2012, legendary pro Larry Nixon of Quitman, Arkansas, loaded his boat with giant Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass from a ¼-mile stretch on the south end of the lake near the Belle River. Nixon won the event, weighing 20 bass totaling 84 pounds, 11 ounces.
This year, 364 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers will take part in the tournament on Lake St. Clair – and they’re all hoping for a result similar to Nixon’s. Rules state that they can stay on Lake St. Clair, fish up the St. Clair River almost to Lake Huron or run south into the Detroit River and Lake Erie. But according to FLW, because it’s early summer, the majority of the anglers are likely to concentrate their efforts in water a little shallower – 15 feet or less. Additional rules include:
- In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers.
- The full field of 364 anglers competes in the two-day opening round. Co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in, while the top 30 pros (based on their two-day accumulated weight) advance to Saturday.
- Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. each morning from Lake St. Clair Metropark. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins (June 28-29) will be held at the park beginning at 3:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins, (June 30-July 1) will also be held at the park, but will begin at 4 p.m.
The best spot for taking this all in? The Bass Brews & BBQ Festival of course! This event will give Tour fans the chance to see angler weigh-ins and winners up close. Set for June 29 through July 1, the festival includes a variety of food, drinks, entertainment and activities. The event has no admission cost and is open to the public. Its hours are Friday from Noon – 6:30 p.m., Saturday from Noon – 6:30 p.m. and Sunday from Noon – 6 p.m. You can find a complete schedule at http://living.macombgov.org/living-thingstodo-BassBrewsBBQ. So mark your calendars and get your binoculars ready! It’s going to be a great weekend!
Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.