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8th Annual Mitchell’s Bay Open lands largest turnout ever

One of Canada’s most recognized anglers, Bob Izumi on Thursday, July 7, 2022. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor) One of Canada’s most recognized anglers, Bob Izumi on Thursday, July 7, 2022. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

The annual Canadian Tire Mitchell’s Bay Open bass fishing tournament is back on Lake St. Clair in Chatham Friday and Saturday with a record number of registered anglers participating.

Organizers said 95 boats with 190 anglers will take part in the two-day event.

“It's just grown in popularity,” said tournament co-chair Tom Beaton. “We don't even promote the tournament any longer looking for new anglers because we have a waiting list and we can only logistically handle so many anglers.”

Beaton recalled humble beginnings for the first few years of the event a decade ago.

“The first two three years I kind of struggled with 20 boats,” said Beaton. “And we have had to ask ourselves, is this really worth it? Because it's a lot of work. But now we're having to control how many boats we have.”

Fifty volunteers from the area are helping put the annual tournament which includes on of Canada’s most recognized anglers, Bob Izumi.

“All the money that we make, we don't pocket any money whatsoever,” Beaton said. “It all goes back into projects that complement tourism or habitat in the area, wetland restoration. So we try to make things better and in the local community of Mitchell’s Bay.”

Izumi was born in Chatham and raised in nearby Blenheim.

He told CTV News this weekend’s event feels like a homecoming party.

“Everybody I talked to is catching. The big thing is get those five big wins each day the tournament and you'll be doing well.”

“There's more fish in Lake St. Clair, per square mile than any other lake in Canada. Smallmouth Bass especially there's so many in the lake,” Izumi said. “You can almost stop anywhere and catch them. They might not be the biggest sometimes but there just seems to be fish everywhere.”

Organizers say the weigh-ins have become a popular part of the event, which includes giveaways and prizes like a $700 paddle board.

“Finding the big ones is always the trick in this because it's just a big bowl. So you got to figure out where they are and hopefully they stay there for two days,” Izumi explained.

Officials add they’re pleased the COVID-19 restrictions have eased, noting the annual children’s event will take place again on Saturday.

“Children who don't get the opportunity to go out for a day of fishing, we host a barbecue with them and their families. We take them on a nature interpretive hike with the Sydenham field naturalists, and then we send them home with a complete outfit of fishing gear, tackle box, tackle, rod, reel. So we pride ourselves on being able to do that and give that back to the community,” Beaton said. Top Stories

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