Mille Lacs will again host the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Championship, a major U.S. fishing tournament that last year drew national acclaim for one of Minnesota's most iconic lakes.
This year's event is set for Sept. 14-17. Last year at Mille Lacs, Seth Feider of Bloomington put on a dominant performance as the state's only entrant. He beat the field of 50 anglers with a three-day total of 76 pounds, 5 ounces.
The decision to return to Minnesota "was easy," Bassmaster said Monday. In the 2016 competition, 729 bass weighing a whopping 2,878 pounds were caught. At the final weigh-in at Grand Casino Mille Lacs, tournament emcee Dave Mercer said there had never been as many big smallmouth bass caught in Bassmaster tournament history. "Nothing holds a candle to this," Mercer said.
There was an overall $1 million purse last year and new this year is a $25,000 payout for the heaviest three-day bag. Also, 36 berths in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic will be awarded based on the final Angler of the Year rankings. Grand Casino and Mille Lacs Tourism will co-host the event.
On the heels of the Angler of the Year tourney, B.A.S.S. will hold a competition on Pokegama Lake near Grand Rapids from Sept. 19-22. That Classic Bracket tournament will give one of eight tour anglers a shot at winning a last-chance invitation to professional bass fishing's premier event, the Bassmaster Classic. Pokegama has never before hosted a B.A.S.S. tournament.
Meanwhile, the Mille Lacs Smallmouth Alliance (MLSA) said this week it's happy the DNR tightened Mille Lacs bass regulations for 2017, lowering total harvest from four fish to three.
Jim DaRosa, MLSA president, said his group will continue to push for tighter restrictions.
The 2017 regulations allow one of the three harvest fish to be over 21 inches. MLSA said it would prefer to protect the largest and oldest bass in Mille Lacs. "What we got was a step in the right direction," DaRosa said.