A full field of 110 boats with 220 anglers blasted off from Orillia on a beautiful Saturday morning Oct. 22nd to try to catch the heaviest five bass they — or anyone else — had ever seen weighed in during a Canadian Bass Tournament.
The Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open, hosted by the Aurora Bassmasters capitalizes on one of the world’s finest smallmouth fisheries. Like no other, this event offers hard core tournament anglers a realistic opportunity to win one of the highest cash payouts in the country, and at a time of year when records are made to be broken.
Last year, the winning team of Mark Moran and Joey Muszynski set the all-time Canadian record with an incredible 31.5 pounds worth of smallmouth bass.
This year, that 31.5-pound record was not broken, but the eventual winners of husband and wife team Wayne and Gail Misselbrook, of Brooklin, Ont., still amassed a huge sack of bass weighing in at 28.5 pounds, for a $20,000 first-place prize. They also tacked on the Shimano Pay to Play win, worth almost $5,000. In an incredibly close 2nd was the team of Scott Murison of Stroud and Paul Hecking of Bradford with 28.2 pounds for a $6,000 cash payout.
Veteran late fall smallmouth specialists like Scott Murison readily admit that in order to consistently do well in this tournament, “you need to pay your dues.”
By all accounts the Misselbrooks are the epitome of hard work and proved to everyone that dedication pays off. Murison was the first to point out how deserving their win was: “It was a heart breaker to come so close that’s for sure! But I’ve been on the other side and won by 0.3 pounds as well, so this is all part of the game!! Plus I know Wayne, and he has worked hard to win so this was meant to be for him and Gail."
The Misselbrooks certainly do work hard out there to stay on top of their game. “We spent four full days prefishing and even during the event we didn’t waste time eating or drinking,” Wayne said. "We had several waypoints that produced big bass in pre fish and we ran to about a dozen of them during the day. We’d give the area 15 or 20 minutes and if it didn’t produce we’d be off."
In an interview following the event, Wayne said that when they weighed in 29.50 lbs for a 4th place finish last year, the fish were grouped up. “This time, however, the catchable fish seemed to be spread out. We hit many of the spots where I had caught big fish in the past, which were all GPS’d. Not all the spots had fish on them that would bite, but the ones that did had big fish on them."
Almost all anglers reported a very tough bite compared to last year. “We only caught six bass all day — and the one we culled was actually a tagged bass*," Wayne said.
When asked what the win means, Wayne responded: “To win a premier tournament like the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open is something that you dream of accomplishing. To be able to do it with my wife who has supported my fishing for the past 20 years, allowing me to go out and prefish and prepare for these tournaments, is even better. I'm sure over time, we'll invest the money back into the sport of tournament fishing, including next year’s Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open."
As title sponsor, Bass Pro Shops has offered the greatest contribution both in cash awards and their marketing and organizational expertise. Additionally platinum sponsors Jack Links Beef Jerky, BoaterExam.com and Toyota Canada were big players once again in 2011. Shimano supplied their live-release boat and in-water weigh-in system. Additionally, they kicked in $2,000 seed money for the Shimano Pay To Play pot and provided rods and reels for prizes. Rapala contributed $2,000 towards the 36th X Spot award. Humminbird/Minn Kota supplied the top team using their products with $2,000. Berkley Canada provided all teams with merchandise in their grab bags, gave out product to spectators during the weigh-in and supplied $1,000 cash to the team weighing in the heaviest largemouth bass. Mustang supplied four floater suits and Maple Lodge farms offered a BBQ during the weigh in. Supporting companies such as CL Lures, X Zone Lures and Set the Hook supplied hidden weight prize packages or contributed to the grab bags for the anglers. Time On The Water Canada organized several draw prize packages for the weigh-in, including a day on the water for three lucky winners with well-known tournament anglers Mark Kulik, Dave Chong and John Whyte. Ice fishing guides from “We Pound Em Charts” donated a day on the ice this winter. Sunshine Radio 89.1 FM in Orillia was there to cover the event and promoted it daily all week prior.
Total cash payouts for the 2011 BPS Lake Simcoe Open were over $53,500. This was better than a 100% payout in cash and prizes. Anglers paid a $400 entry fee to compete — with an additional optional $40 per team to enter the Shimano Pay To Play. Competing anglers, sponsors, the host City of Orillia and the Canadian tackle industry all recognize the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open as the premier one day bass fishing tournament in the country.
The tournament organizers would like to thank the many volunteers from the Aurora Bassmasters along with support from several Barrie Bassmasters who helped make everything run so smoothly during the morning blast off and during the weigh in. Weigh-in hosts were Mike Brown and Jeno Huber. Additionally, thank you to the Competitive Sport Fishing League (CSFL), led by Andy Pallotta and his wife Vita for their expertise, logistical support and tournament equipment. Both anglers and tournament organizers always love coming to the fish-friendly community of Orillia and appreciate their excellent no-charge launching and parking facilities. A key figure who helped with so much of the behind the scenes work in Orillia was Doug Bunker of the Orillia Chamber of Commerce. Finally, organizers of the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open are pleased to announce that they will contribute a total of $1,000 to the local Orillia Big Brothers and Sisters organization.
The Aurora Bassmasters brought back the extremely popular Live Streaming video of the weigh-in event. The 2011 weigh-in can still be seen at www.simcoeopen.com and www.aurorabass.com.
* The Tagged bass was part of a five year research program spearheaded by the Aurora Bassmasters in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources. This fish was originally caught and tagged during the 2010 BPS Simcoe Open — showing that catch and release really does work.
For more information, please contact:
Wil Wegman, Aurora Bassmasters
Courtesy Wil Wegman