Bay City lands four fishing tournaments this summer

The Bay City Bass Tournament Series is expected to bring between 500 and 600 anglers, and thousands of dollars, into the community this summer.

In June and August, four nationally-sanctioned bass fishing tournaments will launch into the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay from Veterans Memorial Park and the Midland Street Business District on Bay City’s west side.

Photo courtesy of Edward ClementsEdward Clements, who has been fishing in this area for 40 years, says he has seen more and more anglers interested in opportunities in this region. (Photo courtesy of Edward Clements)The events are:
  • BASS High School Tournament from Thurs., June 6 to Sun., June 9
  • BASS College Tournament from Thurs., June 6 to Sun., June 9
  • Hobie Kayak Bass Series from Fri., Aug. 9 to Sun., Aug. 11
  • National Professional Fishing League from Thurs., Aug. 29 through Sat., Aug. 31
The four tournaments put the local fishery on the national stage for the second consecutive year. In 2023, two tournaments brought 166 anglers to the community.

The National Professional Fishing League brought its bass fishing tournament to town in July. Then, in August, Major League Fishing brought the top 80 anglers in the world to participate in a tournament in Bay County.

Luke Farminer and Nathan Helmreich, who each are on the Freeland High School Bass Fishing team, say they are excited to participate in the 2024 tournament for a couple reasons.

Most importantly, the Saginaw Bay and River provide great fishing.

“Something unique about the Saginaw Bay is if the wind gets bad, you can go to the Saginaw River,” Nathan says. If fishing isn’t great in the Saginaw River, then the Bay awaits. No matter where you go, you’ll find opportunity, he says. 

Scott BakerTwo major fishing tournaments in 2023 drew international anglers to the Saginaw Bay. Later, the Outdoor Brand Team Writers Conference was held at ATS Printing. This summer, four tournaments are expected in the area. (Photo Credit: Scott Baker)In recent years, Luke and Nathan say conservation efforts have restored the fishery.

“I think it can compete with the top fisheries in the country,” Luke says.

He adds that most fisheries are home to one type of bass. In this area, though, both largemouth and smallmouth bass swim through the water. 

Secondly, they’re thrilled to be competing in waters they know well.

“This tournament is in our backyard,” Luke says. “We finally get the home field advantage.”

Area businesses and government leaders also are excited for the 2024 series, says Ed Clements, a Bay City Commissioner and one of the series organizers.

“I think we learned a lot last year and we are doing things bigger and better than ever,” Clements says.

Scott BakerThe anglers who visited in 2023 said they were pleased with both the opportunities for fishing and land-based recreation throughout Bay County.City Manager Dana Muscott says the tournaments are good news for all.

“It’s important to recognize the cultural significance of fishing in Bay City and its impact on our economy through fishing tourism,” Muscutt says.

When traveling through the community, it’s hard to miss families and individuals fishing from the banks of the Saginaw River. Fishing boats keep launch sites busy.

Muscott also says she hopes the city is so welcoming that the fishermen return with family and friends.

“The City of Bay City embraces the 2024 Bay City Bass Fishing Series and I look forward to them returning year after year for world-class fishing,” Muscott says.

Sports tourism is a powerful economic driver, says Tim Shelton, Director of Sports Tourism for Go Great Lakes Bay, the regional convention and visitors bureau.

“Sports tourism is an integral part of many local and national economies across the United States,” Shelton says. 

The Sports Events and Tourism Association estimates that sports travelers spent $13.5 billion on transportation; $10.9 billion on lodging; and $9.7 billion on food and beverages. In all, sports tourists spent $52.5 billion last year.

Scott BakerFishermen, journalists, camera crews, social media teams, and magazines from all over the country were at the annual Major League Fishing Writers Conference in August. (Photo Credit: Scott Baker) The two 2023 tournaments held here also had a positive effect on the economy. 

Grand Valley State University conducted an economic impact study of the 2023 tournaments, estimating the direct impact at $815,000. The total impact of the tournaments was estimated at  $976,000. In addition, the tournaments generated more than $8,000 in tax revenue.

Michael Pavan, President and Owner of Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning, says his business caters to anglers. He’s thrilled that the tournaments are coming here and expects businesses will notice their presence.

Clements points out that only 160 competitors were in town for the two 2023 events. This year’s tournaments are expected to draw significantly more competitors.

“That economic impact could potentially be five times, or six times,” bigger. “This is a big deal for the area.”

Jason Clements, co-owner of Clements Electric and Chair of the Midland Street Management Board, points out that fishing is central to a community located close to the Great Lakes. 

“Fishing is huge in our community. I myself am a bass fisherman, on a very amateur scale, but it’s a passion,” Jason Clements says. 

“Every person around here seems to, in one way or the other, enjoy fishing. Whether it’s standing on the riverbank with your kids or going out on a boat, there’s all sorts of fishing in our community.”

The tournaments are still looking for sponsors, but major sponsorships have been announced.

ATS Printing is the overall sponsor.

UA Local 85 Plumbers, Steamfitters & HVACR Service Techs is the presenting sponsor for the Bassmaster College Series.

The Midland Street Management Board is the presenting sponsor for the Bassmaster High School series.

Clements Electric is the presenting sponsor for the Hobie Kayak Bass Series.

Northwoods Wholesale Outlet is the presenting sponsor for the National Professional Fishing League event.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.