By Ellwood Shreve, Chatham Daily News
Monday, July 3, 2017 3:54:05 EDT PM
If you want to see some trophy-size bass, head to Mitchell’s Bay this weekend to watch the weigh-in at the fourth annual Canadian Tire Mitchell’s Bay Open.
The two-day bass tournament, which begins on Friday, has grown to be one of the premier events in Ontario and Canada for that matter, said tournament co-chair Tom Beaton.
He admits the first year of the event was kind of touch-and-go when only 21 teams of two took part.
As of Monday, there were 55 entries confirmed and Beaton said another five or six teams are expected by the entry deadline on Thursday when the annual angler’s dinner is held.
“It’s seems like a lot of anglers they don’t want to show up to one-offs, they like to know the tournament has grown, it’s well organized, it’s got a history,” he said.
Beaton said the roster of anglers were mainly local when the tournament first started, but it has since expanded to include more than 50-per-cent coming from outside the area.
Tournament co-chair Carol Belanger said the hospitality extended to participants by tournament host the Mitchell’s Bay Area Association, has helped it to grow.
“What all the anglers seem to say is it’s the way they’re treated here,” she said.
A testimonial given by Rick Damphouse, who won the event with Todd McBride in 2015, states it is “by far one of the best tournaments I have had the opportunity to fish.”
He adds the fishery in Lake St. Clair is one of the best and “the community of Mitchell’s Bay welcomes us with open arms.”
Dave Demers, who won last year’s event with Chris Sherman, says the tournament can be summed up in two words – “top notch.”
He adds: “The organizers and volunteers make the anglers their priority and make the event run like a fine tuned machine.”
Belanger noted the great prize money, including a guarantee $5,000 top prize to the winners, and a $1,000 bonus to the team that catches the largest fish, is also good draw.
Belanger said they have also made some adjustments in the tournament, including moving it from August to this weekend, which is soon after bass season opens on the fourth weekend in June.
“It seems to have really caught on,” she said.
Beaton said more than 300 people came out to watch the final weigh-in at the Mitchell’s Bay Marine Park after last year’s event.
He said the public is encouraged to come out to see what’s going on and take advantage of a great silent auction that is also happening.
“You don’t have to be in the tournament, you don’t have to know anything about fishing, you just need to come and check us out on the Friday and Saturday weigh-ins,” Beaton said.
The weigh-ins take place around 3 p.m.
Promoting the sport of angling to the next generation is also an important part of the tournament, which includes a children’s event that takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Beaton said children’s event is designed to expose children to sport of fishing and educate them on the natural habitat in the area. He noted there is educational seminar that is hosted by the Sydenham Field Naturalists, that includes taking the kids to a wetland restoration project that benefits from some of the profits from the tournament.
More information about the event is available at www.mitchellsbayopen.com.