This year, for the first time in its illustrious history, the Bassmaster Tournament trail will be visiting Pierre, SD, and the 370,000 Acre Fishing Paradise of Lake Oahe.
The trail’s top tour, the Bassmaster Elite Series, will hold the seventh event of its 2018 regular season on Lake Oahe June 29 – July 2 with daily takeoffs and weigh-ins out of Spring Creek Resort. All B.A.S.S. events are free and open to the public.
The Elite Series features the greatest anglers in professional bass fishing, including reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk from Hayden, Idaho. Other iconic names in the event will include Alabama anglers Gerald Swindle and Randy Howell, California pros Skeet Reese and Chris Zaldain and Oklahoma veterans Jason Christie and Edwin Evers.
B.A.S.S. officials are excited about fishing a lake for the first time in one of the more scenic areas of the country.
“We have been keeping an eye on Lake Oahe for quite some time,” said Michael Mulone, director of event and tourism partnerships for B.A.S.S. “While it is known as a top-quality walleye lake, bass tournaments have produced some big results, with kicker smallmouth in the 4-plus-pound range. It is expected that the tournament will produce good numbers of bass and a lot of big fish.”
With a population of just over 13,000, Pierre is the second-smallest state capital in the nation — and the financial impact on the area will be huge.
In addition to the estimated $2.3 million economic impact the tournament is expected to produce for the local economy, the long-term effects of highlighting Lake Oahe as a bass fishery will expand the tourism potential for Pierre.
The tournament will receive massive coverage on Bassmaster.com, including blogs, photo galleries and daily stories to update fans on the action. The final three days will also be featured on Bassmaster LIVE, allowing fans to see in real time what Lake Oahe has to offer.
That will be a boon for an area that already relies heavily on its natural resources to invite tourism from fisherman and hunters.
“The community is very excited about hosting B.A.S.S. and welcoming anglers, fans, sponsors and our team,” Mulone said. “And the buzz at B.A.S.S. over this event has been amazing. The people from our organization can’t wait to get there.”
Unlike many of the lakes visited by the Elite Series each year—regular venues like Kentucky Lake in Tennessee and Grand Lake in Oklahoma—Oahe will be an unknown commodity for the pros. While they’re free to practice at Oahe until the lake goes off limits 30 days prior to the event, according to B.A.S.S. rules, they can’t receive information from locals or anyone else with experience on the fishery.
Many pros will likely the see the giant Missouri River impoundment that stretches 231 miles from Oahe Dam near Pierre all the way north to Bismarck, ND, for the first time when they arrive for the official three-day practice period for the event. The competitors will be allowed to fish Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the tournament starts Thursday and continues through Sunday.
That unknown element could mean the tournament will have a giant effect on the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings since it’s one of the final three regular-season events on the schedule.
“It’ll definitely be a nice measuring stick for our anglers, fishing a lake a lot of them have never seen before,” said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. “But that’s part of being the best in the world—proving you can find fish in that kind of event.”
The winner will not only receive points toward the final AOY standings, but a $100,000 first-place prize and the coveted blue trophy that goes with it. The total purse for the tournament will be $638,000.
For more information, visit Bassmaster.com