$125K up for grabs at FLW Tour season finale on Lake St. Clair
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published June 15, 2018
The FLW Tour, the most competitive Tour in professional bass-fishing, returns to the water this month, June 28-July 1, for the FLW Tour at Lake St. Clair presented by Mercury. Hosted by the Detroit Sports Commission, Macomb County, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks Authority and the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce, the tournament will feature 364 of the world's best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.
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. When the Tour last visited Michigan in August of 2012, legendary pro Larry Nixon of Quitman, Arkansas, loaded his boat with giant Lake St. Clair smallmouth 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 ounce, fishing a variety of baits on a drop-shot rig while mixing in a swimbait.
Though the fishing was phenomenal then, only two pros brought a limit in excess of 23 pounds to the scale. Fans following the action in 2018 can expect to see even better than that this time around. Though the tournament launches out of St. Clair, anglers have a huge body of water to compete on. They can stay on St. Clair, fish up the St. Clair River almost to Lake Huron or run south into the Detroit River and Lake Erie. 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.
"The beautiful thing about Lake St. Clair is that it's so vast, so massive, that we can really spread out and you can find your own school of fish for all four days and really blow the doors off of the event," said local FLW Tour pro Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, who has six career wins on Lake St. Clair in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League. "I anticipate that about 65-percent of the field will fish in St. Clair and the rest will fish in Lake Erie or the Detroit River."
Dobson said that he predicts that the majority of bass will be in the tail end of the spawn, but he thinks there will still be some bass found on their spawning beds. Smallmouth bass are expected to dominate the weigh-in stage, but Dobson said that we will still see some quality largemouth.
"St. Clair is really a prolific largemouth fishery, but it kind of goes unnoticed," Dobson said. "There are plenty of 4- and 5-pound largemouth here. I don't necessarily think a guy can win with them, but there certainly could be some anglers that cash checks or maybe even make the top-10 cut by fishing for largemouth.
"That being said, I think about 80-percent of the fish weighed in will be smallmouth," Dobson continued. "The key to winning this tournament will be the ability to adjust by the day - by the hour - and finding the quality of fish to sustain for four days. My prediction is that the winner will have right around 85 pounds."
Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. EDT each morning from the Lake St. Clair Metropark, located at 31300 Metro Parkway, in Harrison Township. 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.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Lake St. Clair presented by Mercury will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) Aug. 8 from Noon-1 p.m. EST. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide.
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, June 30-July 1, FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at the Lake St. Clair Metropark from noon to 4 p.m. each day. The Expo is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation's Unified Fishing Derby will be held at the Lake St. Clair Metropark on Saturday, June 30 from 9-11 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to anyone under the age of 18 and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. The 1st and 2nd place anglers that catch the biggest fish will be recognized Saturday on the FLW Tour stage, just prior to the pros weighing in.
As part of the FLW Tour's community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will visit youth at STARBASE One, located at 27310 D St. Building 1051, in Harrison Charter Township, on Wednesday, June 27 from 9-11 a.m. to introduce the fifth- and sixth-grade students attending the camp to fishing and outdoor activities in their community. During the presentations the pro anglers will reinforce how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) relate to outdoor activities as well as different careers within the outdoor industry.
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. The total purse for the FLW Tour at Lake St. Clair presented by Mercury is more than $930,000.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2018 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 10-12 and is hosted by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Visit Hot Springs.