World’s best coming to nation’s No 1 bass lake, Lake St. Clair

Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo did some fishing on Lake St. Clair before this week's tournament.

Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo did some fishing on Lake St. Clair before this week's tournament. / Lydia Lohrer/Special to the Free Press

Bassmaster Elite Series

When: Today-Sunday; daily launches at 6:30 a.m.; weigh-ins at 3:15 p.m.
Where: Lake St. Clair. Launches and weigh-ins at Lake St. Clair Metropark.
Who: About 100 bass anglers.
For information and updates:

Hotels in Macomb County are booked with schools of fishermen eager to watch the world’s best bass anglers duke it out on Lake St. Clair for a $100,000 prize.

Today kicks off the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Plano Championship Chase that puts 100 anglers in an intense competition to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass. And it’s a perfect setting — the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society named Lake St. Clair the No. 1 bass lake in the nation and brought its top tournament to the state.

Leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race entering the event are Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., and Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala. Michigan’s hometown hero and the all-time money winner in bass fishing, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, is third.

Michigan also is represented by Chad Pipkens of Holt, Nate Wellman of Newaygo and VanDam’s nephew, Jonathon, of Kalamazoo. Jonathon qualified fresh off his rookie year.

Lake St. Clair marks the regular-season finale for the Plano Championship Chase.

“To qualify, like golf, you have to get your tournament card. Top anglers make it to the Elite Series,” Kevin VanDam said. “This is the last stop on the series. On the line is angler of the year, qualification for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic and requalification for next year’s elite series.”

Anglers bring in their top-five fish for a daily weigh-in.

When VanDam began fishing Lake St. Clair 20 years ago, a good stringer was 13 pounds. Today, with the improved fishery, it’s not unusual for a pro angler to bring in 18.

Weigh-ins start each day at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township. Final weigh-in is Sunday.

Anglers and curious onlookers are welcome.

The weather is projected to be pleasant. and everything from games for the kids to live music and libations for adults is available at the park.