Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published May 3, 2017
The Cabela's North American Bass Circuit kicks off its 2017 tournament season with what many anglers are saying is the very best schedule in all of bass fishing circles this year and it all starts May 13th on the smallmouth bass paradise of Lake Michigan's Sturgeon Bay.
The single-day event offers two-person teams a chance to win thousands in cash and prizes while competing on what is arguably the nation's hottest destination for trophy bronzebacks. As a bonus, the tournament is timed to coincide with the prespawn bite, which each season produces numbers of bass over 5 and 6 pounds, along with a handful of behemoths topping 7 and even 8 pounds.
In 2015, when the NABC last visited Sturgeon Bay in the spring, Ontario's Troy Norman and Andrew Carlson took top honors with a five-bass limit weighing 26 pounds, 9 ounces. And in May of 2014, Wisconsin's Jason Stangel and Chris Cox put together an NABC record-setting five-bass limit weighing 30 pounds even to top the field.
As proof the fishery hasn't faltered, it took a two-day, 10-fish limit of 53 pounds, 10 ounces for Wisconsin's Bob Ahrndt and Chad Kurowski to win the NABC Championship on Sturgeon Bay last October. Ahrndt and Kurowski are signed up for the upcoming qualifier and are anxiously awaiting the chance to compete on Sturgeon again.
"We're definitely coming back," says Kurowski. "We enjoy how the NABC runs their events, and the list of lakes for the 2017 schedule is the best I've seen so far." As for Sturgeon Bay itself, he says the fishery is unrivaled when the bite is on. "Hit it right and you can get your limit in five casts," he says.
With a relatively normal spring in the making, Kurowski predicts it will take 27½ pounds to win the NABC season opener. "Guys will throw swimbaits and jerkbaits for reaction bites in search mode, then slow down with finesse tactics once they find a school," he says. "If the fish are spawning, everybody's going to catch fish. If they're still in prespawn, you'll have to look a little harder."
The upcoming tournament is open to all two-person teams regardless of club or sponsor affiliation. Teams will be allowed to bring their best five large- or smallmouth bass to the scale, and the team with the heaviest total will be crowned the champions. Bass fans of all ages are invited to watch the action unfold at the weigh-in, which starts at 3 p.m. at scenic Wave Point Marina and Resort.
Besides world-class smallmouth bass fishing and the thrill of competing in a professionally run setting, teams will battle for serious winnings. Cabela's NABC payouts are based on the number of teams entered in each event. Plus, the NABC Big Bass Pot and sponsor bonuses including Ranger Cup, Stratos 2X and Garmin Grand Giveaway add thousands more to the total.
At the 2015 Cabela's NABC season opener on Sturgeon Bay, for example, Norman and Carlson collected $10,150 in cash and Cabela's cash cards for their victory.
Teams competing in multiple events can reap even greater rewards. Those fishing at least three Cabela's NABC tournaments have a shot at qualifying for the 2017 Tournament of Champions. Team of the Year titles will also be awarded to the top three teams, led by a Team of the Year prize package that includes paid entry fees to four 2018 qualifiers and the 2017 championship, plus $1,000 in Cabela's gift cards and handsome trophies.
The 2017 Cabela's NABC season includes four regular season qualifiers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, on a diverse selection of largemouth and smallmouth bass fisheries at peak fishing times. The remaining schedule includes Lake Vermilion, Minnesota, June 17; Bays de Noc, Michigan, July 29; and Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, August 19. A special NABC Open and the Tournament of Champions are set for September 9-10 on the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.