Bass tourney returns to The Bay July 5

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Bass boats make their way  to weigh their catch during last year’s Canadian Tire Mitchell’s Bay Open. The teams return next week for the 10th annual.

Eighty or more teams of anglers are hungry to fish Lake St. Clair next month in the 10th annual Canadian Tire Mitchell’s Bay Open Bass tournament.

Tom Beaton, one of the organizers of the tournament, said teams are eager to hit the water for the July 5 and 6 event.

“They’re from all across Ontario, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio. They’ll compete for over $55,000 in prizes and money,” he said.

The tournament continues to give back to the Mitchell’s Bay region and through the Mitchell’s Bay Area Association (MBAA).

“Through this event, the MBAA strives to promote the sport of fishing to all ages while leading by example in the support of nature conservation,” Beaton said. “All proceeds (from the tournament) are used to protect and enhance the natural habitat of Lake St. Clair and Mitchell’s Bay.”

Including the anglers of tomorrow remains a key component to the fishing weekend. Beaton said the tournament will once again feature a collaboration with VON and its Kids Circle bereavement support program.

“Working with the VON program, we will bring 20 of these children together for a memorable day by way of a morning of fishing, a barbecue, a nature interpretive hike along the shores of Mitchell’s Bay guided by the Sydenham Field Naturalists, and each child will be gifted with a full complement of fishing gear,” he said.

Beaton can understand why the tournament is down from its high of 95 boats last year.

“It costs a lot of money to be in tournament angling. You’re travelling all over Ontario and maybe into the States. There’s the upkeep of the boats, insurance…you’ve got to pre-fish the lakes and stay in the communities. Some guys are taking a break.”

By having a smaller pool of competitors this year, Beaton said it’s more manageable for the volunteers. However, “we’d love to see everybody back again.”

Beaton said the tournament is still stacked with familiar faces, such as Bob, Wayne and Darren Izumi, as well as Joslyn Leung.

“We also have several state champions from the U.S.,” he said, adding the tournament remains popular. “Last year, we were the largest international Canadian bass tournament. And we have all our American friends coming up for this year. They just love our tournament.”

Beaton said it helps to have 50-plus volunteers to run a smooth tourney. So does the fact Lake St. Clair is a bass factory.

In terms of volunteers, Beaton said a core group has been around since 2012, when initial planning began.

“You see them at each and every event to this day. It’s the same group,” he said, adding they are injecting new blood into the volunteer pool every year, however.

The volunteers and the dedicated sponsors for the tournament are vital, and Beaton thanked them for their continued support.

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