Changing Baits, Staying Patient and Key Moves all Played a Key Role
Jason Stangel who lives about 40 minutes away from Sturgeon Bay in Two Rivers, WI has fished the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament (SBOT) for 23 or 24 years and over that course of time has four to five top-ten finishes including a runner up finish.
“This was the first time John and I have fished this event together, but we are real good friends, have roomed together before and grew up bass fishing together, so it was a real fun two days on the water,” said Jason.
Being that Jason lives close to Sturgeon Bay, he doesn’t feel like he has to pound on the fish during practice, “I’ll catch or see one or two bass, and then get out of there, I really don’t like to camp out.”
The weekend prior to the SBOT, Jason fished the Sturgeon Bay Bass Tournament and finished 19th out of 50 boats, “We were around the fish, but couldn’t get them to bite, it was just one of those days.”
With the ice having only been gone for a few weeks and the cool water temps, the event fished pretty small, with the top five of six team fishing the same area in Little Sturgeon.
On day one the team had three big bites in the morning, then made a quick run north, upgraded two fish, but quickly made the run back to Little Sturgeon to set up on a small depression that Jason said will only produce a big one, and that is what it did, yielding a 7.5 pound bass to anchor their 28.65# day one limit.
Like most tournaments, the areas that produced on day one, will have more boats on day two, this coupled with a weather change had the smallmouth not as willing to chase the swimbait for Ullmer and Stangel.
“Despite more boats we were able to get where we wanted to be, hit the Spot-lock and stayed in place for four hours,” said Jason. “We again got three big fish right away, but then went to Sturgeon Bay and upgraded our final two fish.”
John Ullmer of Shiocton, WI and Stangel had a massive day two limit that weighed 29.22 lb’s, giving them a two day total weight of 57.87 lb’s and won by 6.4 lb’s, which is the biggest margin of victory in 28 years.
“By fishing those key areas, hitting the sweet spot with our casts and figuring out the retrieve of our swimbait was key on the first day,” stated Jason.
The team fished a 2.8 inch Keitech FAT Impact swimbait on an 1/8 oz Smeltinator jig head. In the morning they had to fish it slow and then burn it by end of day. “The color is a discontinued color that I bought all I could find of, I only have about six left!”
With the weather changing from sunny on day one to cloudy on day two, combined with the fishing pressure the team fished Crooked Creek Tubes by letting them sit in the sand. “If you move the bait too much, you’ll get scum on it,” explained Jason.
We asked Jason for three pieces of advice for teams that are looking to fish the Sturgeon Bay Open for their first time.
Full results of the 2018 Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament can be seen here.
Don’t be afraid to play the game , you can figure out the fish producing areas quickly
Fishing is simple smallmouth stuff, tubes, hair jigs, jerkbaits and swimbaits are all fish producers
Be cautious of the wind, but don’t let it deter you. In pre-fishing you can always get away from the wind and still fish. With the event having a built in blow day, they tournament keeps safety in mind.