‘Big Bass’ tournament to raise money for Camp Ryan Adams
On June 9, the Wisconsin Alliance of Bass Tournament Anglers (WABTA) will run a revised “Big Bass” version of its annual tournament on Pewaukee Lake. All proceeds go to Camp Ryan Adams, a Wisconsin-based charity that provides healing experiences in the outdoors to combat-wounded veterans and their families.
Ryan Chuckel, of Delafield, and other WABTA anglers have helped run the tournament since it started six years ago.
“It is an open tournament for two-person teams who want to compete for thousands of dollars of prize money,” he said. “Big bass of the day wins $2,500, with thousands of more dollars in cash prizes throughout the day being awarded.”
“The first year we didn’t really do anything to raise money,” Chuckel said. “We just took three veterans out fishing as part of a regular WABTA tournament. Since then we’ve raised more than $80,000 and hope to raise about $30,000 this year.”
The reason for the change is to attract more anglers, which in turn will help raise more money for the vets.
“We wanted this event to be inviting to anyone interested in participating, not just serious tournament anglers,” Chuckel said. “So we switched from a traditional bass tournament format to a ‘big bass’ format. We will hold four weigh-ins throughout the day. Each team can weigh in one bass during each weigh-in and be eligible for cash prizes from $500 for biggest bass at each weigh-in to $100 for fifth biggest. The big bass of the day will automatically win $2,500. The idea is that now we have 20 winners instead of just eight to 10.”
The new format did not come out of thin air – a lot of research was done to ensure that WABTA runs a smooth event.
“We have spent a lot of time working with other organizations around the country that conduct similar format bass tournaments and we are applying lots of their best practices,” Chuckel said. “We feel very comfortable that we will be able to handle it well in terms of weighing every fish and returning them to the fishery.”
Pewaukee Lake is a fairly large body of water, so a person might be wondering if they have to run into the launch several times without knowing if my fish is the biggest one for a given flight.
“We are using a club texting feature for the tournament,” he said. “During each weigh-in we will send one or two notices to participants letting them know what the current big bass weight is. That said, there is a bit of gamesmanship that comes into play with this format. Teams will have to make some decisions about when they weigh fish to maximize their winnings.”
At the conclusion of the tournament, there will be a fundraiser at the site of the weigh-in at Gina’s Sports Dock on the shores of Pewaukee Lake.
“Everyone is welcome to honor our veterans, help us raise money through our bucket raffles and other activities and enjoy free live music,” Chuckel said.
For more information go to wabta.org.