ESCANABA – A new champion was finally determined Monday at the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship that was held in Escanaba. Extremely windy conditions delayed the end of the tournament.
Greg Hackney of Gonzales, Louisiana, was emotional when his catch of five smallmouth bass Monday weighed 17 pounds 4 ounces to keep him in first place.
“Probably the worst I felt the whole week was when I checked in this afternoon. I could feel my heart beat and I thought it was going to come out of my chest. I don’t know what to say. I’ve just been very blessed,” Hackney said after hoisting the trophy for Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
Hackney said he felt the pressure, especially when they had to sit and wait for the weather to improve.
“I didn’t have a great practice here. I knew it was going to be hard because I never really found that ‘glory hole,’ ya know. The wind made it hard to practice. I started way off in Big Bay de Noc and then I ended up over here and then I ended up down the lake. I just never felt like I got in the groove,” he said.
The $100-thousand dollar prize was suppose to be awarded on Sunday but high winds cancelled fishing for three days on the Bays de Noc. It became a running joke at the weigh-ins yesterday.
“This is probably the best fishery in the world but…” Angler Mark Davidson paused for comedic emphasis before finishing with, “you’ve got to wait for the right day to go.”
Sheila Krueger with the Delta Chamber of Commerce says the attention of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship will help brand the Bays de Noc as a great fishery.
“The overall gift to us is the fact that everything there said Bays de Noc or Escanaba. Every fishermen that got up on the stage to weigh their fish said they love the Bays de Noc, they love Escanaba so the return on everyone seeing the weigh-ins, seeing our bass fishery, seeing the beautiful sunshine is hopefully going to bring people to our area,” she said.
Krueger says if the Bassmaster group decides to return to the area for another tournament they will probably look at event earlier in the year when the winds might be calmer.