ESCANABA - Bay de Noc Great Lakes Sport Fishermen will hold their first annual Big Bay de Noc bass tournament Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"The merchants in the area want to do it because everything (involving fishing) is held over on the Escanaba/Gladstone side (of the bay)," said tournament director Tom Polkey. "But we have a heck of a bass fishery, probably as good as anyplace in the country. Bass are really under-fished around here."
Polkey and his wife Jalene have done fishing tournaments for the Great Lakes Sport Fishermen group for about 20 years, including two Masters Walleye Circuit world championships. He hopes support for a bass fishing tournament will also be strong.
"We have 18 anglers signed up, " Polkey said. "One team is coming from as far away as Missouri and there several teams driving up from the Chicago area."
Polkey hopes to build on this year's inaugural tournament.
"You have to walk before you can run," said the tournament director. "We were relying on local fishermen but that didn't work out. I think if we start targeting out of the area, we'll draw people in."
The tournament starts from Nahma Boat Launch. Boat inspection will be held at 5:30 a.m., with a team meeting at 6:45. One member from each team must be present for the meeting or face disqualification.
Cost is $200 per team with an 80 percent payback. In addition, Garden Corner Sport Shop is guaranteeing a $500 prize for the biggest fish. Proceeds from the tournament will stay in the Big Bay de Noc area according to Polkey, who says there is still time for teams to enter.
"If someone would like to sign up Saturday Morning, they can do that," he said.
Anglers will be allowed to fish between Peninsula Point at Stonington and Point Detour at Garden Peninsula. After the tournament is over, Polkey says a decision will be made on whether the event will return in 2011.
"We'll probably have a wrap-up meeting to discuss the situation," he said. "My dream is to have the (Bassmasters) Elite Series come here and fish the bay when the economy gets better."