ESCANABA- The best walleye anglers from around the country took to the waters of Little and Big Bays de Noc this morning for the opening day of the 2013 Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit World Walleye Championship (MWC).
The majority of the 47, two-person teams aren't from the area but three local anglers who qualified for the event are hoping to make a splash on their home waters.
Husband and wife team, Glenn and Carol Chenier of Gladstone are familiar with the Bays de Noc and the competition of the Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC) with over 20 years of competition in the event.
File photo |?Daily Press
Glenn Chenier, left, of Gladstone and co-angler Kevin Yancey of Newport, Mich. display their catch after at the weigh-in for the FLW Walleye Tour Bays de Noc Tournament in 2012. Chenier will be competing in the MWC?World Walleye Championship on the Bays de Noc this weekend with his wife Carol.
Jerry Plourde of Escanaba is also hoping to make an impact. Plourde has been fishing the MWC since 2004 and has been with his teammate Dan Steer of South Dakota since 2006. Plourde said competing on his home waters was a motivating factor to qualify.
"It's really exciting, looking back a year ago they announced the Escanaba location, I placed a lot of emphasis on fishing really hard to qualify for this and to make the top 45 cut was really exciting," Plourde said.
To qualify for the World Walleye Championship, teams have to compete in at least three of the competitions from the 2012 Masters Walleye Circuit and earn enough points to make the championship, which is by invite only.
The Chenier's are no strangers to the World Walleye Championship, having competed in 15 during their career, even taking a first place finish in the 2004 National Team Championships, also held on the Bays de Noc.
"We're really glad to be here in our area doing this," Glenn said. "The bite hasn't been very quality that we've seen so far but we're hoping it will get better. It's not usually the time of year we fish, generally we're out in the woods doing our deer hunting and bird hunting, so it's a little a different."
While many of the anglers have been pre-fishing the waters for the past two weeks, Glenn and Carol didn't get out until last Saturday. They did however note that friends have been scoping out the fishing for them.
Plourde has been able to get out on the water a lot this summer and in the last week but noted that it is still difficult because of the size of the lake and the changing weather.
"I've been kind of pre-fishing all summer but I've been fishing the last week, getting out everyday," he said. "I'm checking my spots I'm used to checking and trying different presentations, from cranks to spinners. It's a lot of time and a lot of water. This system is a big system so there's a lot a different areas these fish could be holding up."
Plourde said having the tournament on his home waters is an advantage but the current weather conditions could put a hamper on the catch.
"The cold front really slows the bite down a lot," Plourde said. "That's why you have to keep changing your tactics and find out what really works in these conditions. That's what it really comes down to, who is going to figure out the best way to make these fish bite."
Weigh-ins will be held daily at the Miracle of Life building at the U.P. State Fairgrounds at 4:30, today through Saturday. Teams can have up to five fish weighed per day, but they must be larger then 15 inches and only two can be over 23 inches. The team with the most combined weight by the end of the tournament wins a $20,000 cash prize.
Attending MWC tournaments costs upwards of $2,500 per trip and both Plourde and the Chenier's made note of the help they've received from their local sponsors.
Plourde is sponsored locally by Discount Marine Parts of Bark River, Buck Inn and Drifter's. The Chenier's are sponsored by Sleepy Hollow Motel, State Wide Real Estate, Ward's Auto Body, Bosk Corporation and Walley's Choice Fishing Tackle.
"It's really cool to have our community spotlighted in this aspect," Glenn said. "This is something else, I guess people don't realize what it means as far as the prestige on the national scale."