District pair captures Wisconsin bass tourney

Dan Falloon

A monster bass was the difference for Troy Norman and Andrew Carlson at the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. over the weekend.
The duo landed the 7.01-pound lunker on the second day of competition, helping them to the best day of any team in the tournament and catapulting them from seventh place to the top spot.
After weighing in with 26.29 pounds on Day 1, they came up with 29.69 pounds on Day 2 for a total of 55.98 pounds—1.3 pounds better than the runners-up.
“In the 20 years that the tournament’s been going on, I caught the biggest bass that’s ever been caught there,” enthused Norman.
“It jumped us way up there.”
Norman said he noticed the fish, which smashed the previous tournament record of 6.81 pounds, swimming by and made sure to stay calm while casting for the potential game-changer.
“I saw it cruise by, out just in sight of me in front of the boat, and I told my partner just ‘Don’t move, don’t move,’” he recalled.
“I cast way out in front of it and brought the bait through to where he was headed and he hit it.
“I got him hooked up and my partner [Carlson] was like, ‘So, man, is it a big one?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s a giant, it’s a giant,’” he continued.
“It came out of the water and rolled, and when he [Carlson] saw it, he got so excited he dropped his rod.
“We netted it and we were just pumped,” Norman added.
Carlson admitted letting his rod fall into the lake, but maintained he had his priorities straight.
“It was pretty exciting,” he enthused. “The rod went in the lake when I was trying to grab the net and lucky enough, we got the rod back.
“The fish was way more important than the rod.”
Carlson said they already were having a pretty impressive day, but being able to land the record-breaking fish helped put them over the top.
“It jumped out of the water and we knew it was pretty big,” he recalled. “We had two fish that were five pounds in the boat prior to this, so once we got that one in, it helped out quite a bit for us.”
Norman, however, still stressed that the competition wasn’t over, so he and Carlson wanted to keep the momentum rolling and haul in another good-sized fish or two.
“I was like, ‘Okay man, let’s do this. Let’s get a big five-pounder. Let’s get another one here. We need another one,” noted Norman.
“We were both just amped right up.”
Norman also was pumped getting back to the tent for the weigh-in, where he and Carlson were able to make the big reveal.
“The whole tent went pretty crazy,” he recounted. “When I pulled that thing out of the livewell, everybody was just, ‘Holy man, that’s a giant.’
“It’s a huge bass, everybody knew.”
“There was lots of excitement down there when Troy pulled it out of the boat there,” chipped in Carlson.
“Lots of people were pretty excited down at the tent.”
The tournament isn’t exactly an amateur derby, Carlson said, noting some professional anglers showed up to compete at Sturgeon Bay.
“They had 200 boats and a lot of professional fishermen, guys that fish the FLW [Forest L. Woods Outdoors] and big tournaments like that, so it was pretty good experience,” he explained.
“We just kept our calm, and did what we had to do.”
Norman added he and Carlson mesh well together on the lake. They tried to stick to a plan, but were flexible to change it up when necessary.
“We’re very finesse [light weight, light line] with our fishing,” he noted. “We put a good pattern together out there and we stuck to it, had a game plan and kept to it.
“We made the right adjustments at the right times, and it seemed to get the weights we needed to get.”
The pair also made sure to scout Lake Michigan beforehand, and had an idea of where to track down some of the larger fish. And fortunately, they came upon them during competition, as well.
“We just had a really good pre-fish, and we knew where some of the bigger fish were and, lucky enough, we got them in the tournament,” Norman said.
Competitors also faced challenges from frigid weather that had blown into the area just before the tournament began, but Carlson and Norman were able to overcome it and find some large bass.
“The number of fish weren’t huge, but the quality of the fish were really big, so we kind of just stuck with that and kept just doing milk runs of the whole thing ’til we got the right bites and it ended up paying off,” Norman added.
“Most of the big females were out off the deep water staging points in front of the spawning areas,” he noted.
Carlson said he and Norman have fished together for seven or eight years, and even work together to boot.
“We’ve been pretty close friends,” he remarked. “We work for Hydro One, both linemen.
“We’ve been pretty close for many years now.”
And after a weekend in Wisconsin, the pair was able to share a sizeable chunk of change—$52,500 (U.S.) in cash and prizes—for their efforts.
“That’s a pretty good week. We had a couple beers,” Norman laughed.