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Sturgeon Bay Bass Tournament tries 'fish-friendly,' weigh-on-the-water approach

Fishing on the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Channel, May 12, 2023 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
Fishing on the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Channel, May 12, 2023 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
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STURGEON BAY (WLUK) -- With more than 1.3.million anglers in the state, fishing is part of "How WI Live" in Wisconsin, and in Door County, competition is underway, with the seventh annual Sturgeon Bay Bass Tournament.

On a calm Friday morning in the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Channel, fishermen test their skill, casting for smallmouth bass.

Tournament Director Gary Nault says the catch-and-release tournament features some high-tech help.

"The guys that are out there have a scale with them," explained Nault. "They weigh the fish. We get a video of the fish, and they release it all within a 30-second period. So, the fish are out of the water a very short period of time, and they go back to where they were caught."

"It's a very unique way of doing it. It's done with a phone app," said Mark Holey, Sturgeon Bay Bass Tournament.

The fish are tracked inside a trailer. Holey watches the action from his laptop computer.

"They have to take a picture of the scale, clearly showing the weight. Once they do that, they enter that in their cell phone, and it shows up on my screen here, where we can go in with the unverified video, and verify it," he said. "And then it updates the leaderboard as we verify."

Holey says the process is easier on the bass.

"There's less stress on the fish. You don't have to worry about transporting them in your live well. You don't have to displace them by taking them back to the shore and then have them released somewhere else," he explained. "So, overall just a great way to do the tournament. It's more fish-friendly than any other tournament format."

Daily fishing runs until 4 p.m. That's when the app shuts down the competition.

"At the end of the second day, we don't have to wait to add up scores and everything like that. That's all continually done for us. So, it makes everything go so much easier," said Nault.

The tournament wraps up on Saturday with more fishing.

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And at Sawyer Park in Sturgeon Bay, there will be family-friendly events, including a tackle shop and swap and a competition for kids.

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