Sturgeon Bay, Wisc.—Oct. 2, 2016—Bob Ahrndt and Chad Kurowski dialed in a tricky transition smallmouth bite to topple an all-star field of the Midwest’s best bass fishing teams at the 2016 Cabela’s North American Bass Circuit’s World Bass Championship Oct. 1-2 on Sturgeon Bay of Lake Michigan.
Presented by Cabela’s, the event featured the top point-accumulating two-person teams from the circuit’s 2016 regular season, which included qualifiers in Minnesota and Wisconsin and drew hard-fishing teams from across the region.
“This is my biggest moment in tournament bass fishing,” said Kurowski, of Peshtigo, Wisconsin. “And I had the most enjoyable time with my partner out of everybody I’ve ever fished with.”
“It’s kind of surreal,” added Kurowski, of New Franken, Wisconsin. “After all the hours of practice, year after year—to finally put it together feels great.”
While many anglers battled heavy seas making long-distance runs to far-flung fishing areas 40 or more miles up the rugged shoreline, Ahrndt and Kurowski played the short game. “We never ran north of Snake Island,” Ahrndt admitted, referring to a well-known landmark a short cast north of the Little Sturgeon Bay takeoff area at Wave Pointe Resort and Marina.
Water temperatures hovered around 59 degrees, and a stout north to northeast wind had blown for nearly a week leading up to the championship. Cool and stirred up conditions inside some of the bays had more than a few teams running and gunning during practice, and many continued to do so after the event started.
Ahrndt and Kurowski settled on a game plan that included targeting classic autumn transitional areas such as steep drop-offs and boulders in less than 20 feet of water, using their side-scanning sonar to pinpoint structural sweet spots.
“Some of the bass were suspended and others were hugging bottom,” said Kurowski, revealing they threw a mix of dropshot rigs, jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits. “The steady wind helped the bite. It was a little challenging drifting in 4- to 5-foot rollers but it flattened out around noon.”
They shot out to an early and substantial lead with a 27-pound, 3-ounce day one limit and followed up with 26 pounds, 7 ounces on day two for an impressive 53-pound, 10-ounce total.
“It was tough for awhile today,” added Ahrndt. “At noon we had two 5-pounders and the rest were threes. But we stuck to our guns and got our 6-pound kicker with half an hour left to go.” As fate would have it, besides securing the win, the broad-shouldered bass also ended up in a tie for big fish of the tournament.
Along with serious bragging rights, Ahrndt and Kurowski pocketed a cool $10,000 in cash, plus $390 from the NABC Big Bass Pot, which included $50 from the hosts at Wave Pointe.
Reigning Cabela’s NABC Team of the Year Ben Otto and Casey Gallagher of Pulaski, Wisconsin, finished second. They also broke the 50-pound barrier, bringing in 25-15 and 24-03 limits for a 50-pound, 2-ounce total that earned them $5,000 in cash.
Minnesotans Michael Walters, of Maple Grove, and Seth Feider, of Bloomington, placed third with 46 pounds, 1 ounce, good for $2,500 plus $390 in Big Fish Pot winnings for their 6-pound behemoth bronzeback. Fellow Minnesotans Scott Bonnema, of Zimmerman, and Bob Spriegl, of Oakdale, finished fourth with 41 pounds, 11 ounces and collected $1,500 cash plus $170 from the Big Fish Pot.
For complete results CLICK HERE.
To see the full photo library from the event, CLICK HERE.
In all, the Cabela’s NABC awarded $28,982 in cash and prizes at the event, including Team of the Year and Championship payouts, as competitors enjoyed more than 200 percent payback on their entry fees.
Weigh-ins were held bayside at Wave Pointe Resort. A total of 119 bass weighing 454 pounds, 15 ounces crossed the stage and were released back into the Sturgeon Bay system.
Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter for hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, concluded its sixth season as title sponsor of the NABC. Other sponsors include: Ranger Boats, Stratos Boats, Mercury Marine, Garmin, MotorGuide, G-Juice and T-H Marine.
The Cabela’s NABC is based in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Entry fees are $500 per regular season tournament and $600 for the two-day championship. Along with an overall payback of more than 100 percent, a small donation is included in each entry fee and matched by the NABC and other conservation organizations up to 3-to-1 in support of bass conservation projects anywhere the NABC does business.
The 2017 Cabela’s NABC schedule will be announced shortly. For more information, visit northamericanbasscircuit.com, email email@example.com, or call (580) 765-9031.