Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
The fourth stop of the National Professional Fishing League brings the anglers and their families back to Saginaw Bay in Bay City, Michigan for a three-day shootout beginning on Thursday, July 20th, and running through Saturday, July 22nd.
Like last year, Timmy Reams is ahead in the Progressive Angler of the Year race at the midway point of the season and is looking to continue his remarkable effort in 2023 which includes a second-place finish at Pickwick Lake, third-place at Wright-Patman and fourth-place at Santee Cooper Lakes. Reams has been the model of consistency dating back to 2022 and is poised to continue his trend this week in Michigan.
In second place in Progressive AOY, Todd Goade is also enjoying three top-ten finishes in 2023. He finished up tenth at Pickwick, followed by fifth at Wright-Patman and a second-place finish in South Carolina on Santee Cooper. Goade is a well-known smallmouth angler and should be a favorite to bring in mixed bags throughout the week.
In anticipation of potential weather events to come, Goade has been monitoring the weather forecast for the event which kicks off Thursday. Throughout practice, his focus and plan were twofold: he aimed to secure a victory in the tournament while safeguarding his current second place in the Progressive Angler of the Year standings. Goade believed that incorporating both largemouth and smallmouth would be crucial to catching better-than-average bags and keeping him in the hunt.
“Despite the event being scheduled a couple of weeks later than the previous year, I noticed that a lot of the water temperatures remained similar in the areas I fished,” said Goade. “Additionally, there is a significant increase in the water levels up the river and the fishing is not what I was expecting.”
Despite ample opportunities for catching largemouth bass at Saginaw Bay, Goade is still expecting the weights to hover around the 12 to 14-pound range. By catching one or two smallmouth bass each day, he could separate himself from the field by getting to the 15 to 18-pound mark. However, that will be no easy task.
With experience on the big water, the importance of adapting to changing conditions and paying attention to the wind patterns for the event is nothing new. He explored various areas he could fish regardless of wind direction to maximize his chances of staying consistent.
“I am not overly concerned about the Angler of the Year race at the moment, but I understand the significance of maintaining my spot and staying consistent,” he said. “By keeping a watchful eye on the wind and practicing different things, I am planning to fish mainly for largemouth, but am not afraid to get offshore to try and catch a few smallmouth if the weather allows.”
Jesse Wise finds himself in a promising position, sitting comfortably in third place in the Progressive Angler of the Year standings through three tournaments. As the Saginaw Bay event approached, Wise was determined to maintain his consistency and secure a strong finish by targeting largemouth bass, which he believed would be the key to success in this particular tournament.
Through two days of practice, he diligently kept an eye on the forecast and opted to focus his efforts on largemouth bass, recognizing the importance of consistency to maintain his position in the standings.
“I am thinking the check line will likely be similar to the previous year and the winning weight similar as well,” said Wise. “I spent the majority of practice exploring different areas of the lake to allow myself plenty of water to fish regardless of the wind.”
So far, Wise had identified a few promising areas where some better-than-average quality fish live. For his final day of practice, the plan was more of the same.
“I will keep on working to find groups of fish and try to figure out more of what’s going on out there, he added. “I am looking forward to Thursday and going fishing. We are going to catch a lot of fish this week.”
How to Watch
Tune in daily from July 20 through 22 to watch daily action from Saginaw Bay, with Live Coverage here streaming FREE on the PHYX TV App beginning on Friday. You can also tune in to PHYX TV for Bonus Live Coverage on Wednesday with feature anglers all day long.
Under the Go Live Tab, choose LIVE Broadcast or check out the real-time leaderboard on the Weigh Live Tracker with estimated weights entered by the anglers on the water and join us for the LIVE Weigh-ins, here!
Check out the results from Santee Cooper, here!