CECIL COUNTY, Md. — Twenty-four years after Ken Cook won the Bassmaster Classic there, the nation’s best bass anglers will return to the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay for the Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Chesapeake Bay on Aug. 13-16 out of Cecil County, Md. This will be the seventh of nine events in the prestigious tournament trail for 2015.
Cook won that 1991 August tournament with a three-day limit of 15 bass that weighed 33-2, during a time when the bay was touted as starting a comeback from years of pollution and habitat loss. About 10,000 acres of submerged grasses had been planted during the late 1980s, but productive patches of vegetation still were difficult to find in the massive system fed by a dozen tributaries.
Will competitors enjoy a more productive fishery this time?
“The fish might be bigger, but the fishing still is going to be tough — tougher than normal because we’ll be there in the dead of summer,” said Jacob Powroznik, 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year.
In three Bass Pro Shops Northern Opens presented by Allstate on the bay during late spring and summer, the Virginia angler added, just 11 pounds was needed to make the two-day cut. On the positive side, Michigan angler Nate Wellman beat the heat in the September 2010 Open, weighing in a hefty 53 pounds, 1 ounce to outpace the competition by more than 15 pounds.
Wellman said he caught most of his bass by fishing slowly with Texas rigged plastics, while staying away from the salt and the shore. His prime spot was a sunken log in 10 to 12 feet of water.
“The log was alongside a big, shallow flat. My best bite was on low tide. I think the reason for that was that the low tide pulled the bass off the flat,” he said. “It wasn’t deep enough for them to stay there when the water was down, and that positioned them at the next deepest structure point.”
Also, New Jersey’s Dave Mansue won with an impressive three-day total of 47-6 in late April 2009. He worked a 3/4-ounce football head jig with a craw trailer along rocky outcroppings and boulders.
“I knew there were a lot of boats piled up in a few places,” he said. “But I thought if I could get away from them I’d stand a better chance. As far as I could tell, there was no one else doing what I was doing.”
Powroznik didn’t reveal his strategy for this summer’s competition, but he did acknowledge that grass would be an option. “There’s a lot of grass on the flats, but not a lot of milfoil,” he said.
“Most of it is eelgrass, and I don’t like eelgrass,” the angler added. “What milfoil is out there is probably going to get beat to death.”
Other options will include shallow cranking and pitching a jig and plastics around docks, he said. Cook won the 1991 Classic by throwing a Storm Short Wart crankbait and Hart spinnerbait along riprap banks and grass.
“Wherever you fish, it’s going to be a grind,” Powroznik said. “We’re going to have 107 of the world’s best anglers picking everything apart. It will be a struggle.”
Huk, the title sponsor, has chosen this tournament to showcase its coolest clothing for hot weather. “Huk Performance Fishing is extremely excited to be the title sponsor of the Bassmaster Elite Series at Chesapeake Bay,” said Ben Verner, president of the fishing apparel company.
“We welcome Huk as the title sponsor of one of our Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “The Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Chesapeake Bay is a great platform for introducing comfortable, functional and attractive Huk gear to the performance-minded bass fishing consumer.”
Competition is set for Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 13-16, with daily takeoffs at 6:15 a.m. ET from Anchor Marina and the adjacent North East Community Park. Weigh-ins will be at the park, beginning at 3 p.m. each day.
Starting at noon on Saturday and Sunday, the Elite Series Expo will feature B.A.S.S. sponsor representatives with activities, games and prizes for attendees. Along with the Bassmaster Elite tournament will be Summerfest, a free festival including food, vendors, live music, a kids’ area and more.