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Husband and Wife Team Win 2011 Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open Featured

Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open 2011Complete Coverage and Interview’s
Photo’s By Brad Hudson, Rosa Sharpe of Lures and Tours and the author

Orillia, Ontario Canada:  
A full field of 110 boats with 220 anglers blasted off on a beautiful Saturday morning October 22nd  to try and catch the heaviest five bass they ... or anyone else, had ever seen weighed in during a Canadian Bass Tournament.

Last year, the same could be said ... and the winning team of Mark Moran and Joey Muszynski set the all time Canadian record with an incredible 31.5 pounds worth of smallmouth bass.

The Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open, hosted by the Aurora Bassmasters capitalizes on one of the world’s finest smallmouth fisheries. Like no other, this event offers hard core tournament anglers a realistic opportunity to win one of the highest cash payouts in the country, and at a time of year when records are made to be broken.

In 2011, that 31.5 pounds was not surpassed, but the eventual winners of Wayne and his wife Gail Misselbrook of Brooklin Ontario still amassed a huge sack of bass weighing in at 28.5 pounds, for a $20,000 first place prize.  They also tacked on the Shimano Pay to Play win worth almost $5,000.  In an incredibly close 2nd was Scott Murison of Stroud and Paul Hecking of Bradford with 28.2 pounds for a $6,000 cash payout.

Wayne Misselbrook and his wife Gail with four of their five winning bass

Veteran late fall smallmouth specialists like Scott Murison readily admit that in order to consistently do well in this tournament “you need to pay your dues.”  By all accounts the Misselbrook’s are the epitome of hard work and proved to everyone that dedication pays off.  

Almost all anglers reported a very tough bite compared  to last year. “We only caught six bass all day - and the one we culled was actually a tagged bass*, said Wayne.

Prizes and Cash Awards

As title sponsor Bass Pro Shops has offered the greatest contribution both in cash awards and their marketing and organizational expertise. Additionally platinum sponsors Jack Links Beef Jerky, and Toyota Canada were a big player once again in 2011.   Shimano supplied their live release boat and in water weigh-in system. Additionally, they kicked in $2,000 seed money for the Shimano Pay To Play pot and provided rods and reels for prizes. 

Aurora Bassmasters president Herb Quan getting set to award some
of the contingency prizes.

Rapala contributed $2,000 towards the 36th X Spot award. Humminbird/Minn Kota supplied the top team using their products with $2,000 in cash.  Berkley Canada provided all teams with $3,5000 worth of merchandise in their grab bags, gave out product to spectators during the weigh-in and supplied $1,000 cash to the team weighing in the heaviest largemouth bass. They also had $1,000 up for grabs should anyone weigh-in a bass heavier than 8 pounds.

Mustang supplied four floater suits and Maple Lodge Farms offered a BBQ during the weigh in.  Supporting companies like CL Lures, X Zone Lures and Set the Hook  supplied hidden weight prize packages or contributed to the grab bags for the anglers. Organizers of the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open are pleased to announce a $1,000 contribution to the local Orillia Big Brothers and Sisters organization. This money was raised by anglers at a raffle during the pre-tournament meeting and the Maple Lodge BBQ held at the weigh-in.

Time On The Water Canada organized several draw prize packages for the weigh-in, including a day on the water for three lucky winners with well known tournament anglers Mark Kulik, Dave Chong and John Whyte. Ice fishing guides from “We Pound Em Charters” donated a day on the ice this winter. Sunshine Radio 89.1 FM in Orillia was there to cover the event and promoted it daily all week prior.  

Total cash payouts for the 2011 BPS Lake Simcoe Open were over $53,500. This was better than a 100% payout in cash and prizes. Anglers paid a $400 entry fee to compete - with an additional optional $40 per team to enter the Shimano Pay To Play. Competing anglers, sponsors, the host City of Orillia and the Canadian tackle industry all recognize the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open as the premier one day bass fishing tournament in the country.

Left- the Bass Pros Shops Lake Simcoe Open Champions Trophy
- currently on display the BPS store in Vaughan.
Right a small kids fishing derby was hosted by volunteers while the main tournament took place.

Two of Canada's top open water smallmouth anglers always team up to fish this tournament.
Here Derek Strub (left) and Mike DesForges get ready to weigh in.

The Aurora Bassmasters brought back the extremely popular Live Streaming video of the weigh-in event.   The 2011 weigh-in can still be seen at  and . Media and others can also access photos of the event, by clicking on the Lures and Tours website and this link: . High res photos can be obtained by ordering them thru the website with the proper ID number.

Bass Fisheries Research:
* The Tagged bass was part of the award winning Lake Simcoe Bass tagging Research project spearheaded by the Aurora Bassmasters in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Over 1,300 bass were sampled at bass tournaments between 2006 -2010 (spines and scales were collected for ageing, weights and measurements were taken, the fish was fizzed if required and then double tagged before release.)  This fish was originally caught, sampled,  fizzed and tagged during the 2010 BPS Simcoe Open - showing that catch and release and fizzing really does work. Of the ~80 recapped tagged bass called in by anglers to date, over half have been previously fizzed.

Co-Angler Top 20
5 bass limit
/ Prize
Big Fish
28.5 $20,000.00 Shimano Pay to Play
(just under $5000.00)
28.2 $6,000.00    
27.4 $4,000.00 Humminbird/
MinnKota $2000.00
26.65 $3,000.00    
26.45 $2,000.00    
26.4 $1,000.00    
24.9 $800.00    
24.25 $750.00    
24 $700.00    
23.95 $650.00    
23.05 $600.00    
22.8 $550.00    
22.35 $500.00    
(4 fish)
19.7 $400.00    
19.65   Big Gulp $ 1000.00 & Mustang Survival Suit 5.05
19.5   Mustang Survival Suit  
(4 fish)
(4 fish
Author and 2011 BPS Lake Simcoe Open angler Wegman holds the 6.6 pound
smallie he caught on the first cast of the day.

INTERVIEW ... With 2011 BPS Lake Simcoe Open Champion Wayne Misselbrook
By Wil Wegman

Personal Details:

Wayne and Gail Misselbrook are from Brooklin, Ontario and have two daughters,  Amy who is 24 and Carrie is 22 - with a grandchild on the way. Wayne is a Tool & Die Maker while Gail is Self Employed. They have been tournament fishing together for 12 years.  They fished in the K.A.S.T series and won Sturgeon Lake and several other top 5 finishes which led to team of the year. Wayne is a renowned shallow water largemouth angler yet over the last few years has proven to be no slouch in deep offshore waters fishing for monster smallmouth. Their sponsors include Red Wing Tackle and Spider Thread ... the line that helped them win the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open.

We caught up with Wayne following the tournament to try and learn what it took to win this event. Here is the complete interview along with a bonus follow up a couple of weeks after the event when this husband and wife team caught the biggest bass of their careers!

1) How many days did you prefish prior to the event? How did you handle the weather and rough water conditions? Please explain your pre-fishing techniques.

The bad weather leading up the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open made pre-fishing for the tournament challenging but we spent four full days prior pre fishing. Fighting four and five foot waves can create problems when trying to find fish. Over the last couple of years I have intentionally gone out on Lake Simcoe on the rough days to improve my driving skills. I’m definitely still not the best driver out there but along with a few tips from my friends and time behind the wheel of the boat I have become very comfortable navigating in reasonably rough water. If you can’t make it to your fish on tournament day because of weather conditions, you might as well of stayed in bed. We covered a lot of water to determine where the fish locate at this time of year and saved these areas on our GPS for future use. As this year's tournament has shown us, the bite can vary from slow to frequent, but the bigger fish can still be caught no matter what the conditions are.  

Above Gail and Wayne begin to remove the bass from their livewells
and show the crowd before the fish are put onto the scales

 2)  Last year you placed 4th with 29.50 pounds. How fishing then differ from that of the 2011 BPS Simcoe Open?

In our opinion, during last year’s Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open the fish seemed to be bunched up, making them more competitive and in turn, a little easier to catch. We plain and simply caught more fish last year as did many of the other competitors.

This year the fish seemed to be more spread out. Covering more water/WPT’s where we had caught six plus pound fish in the past helped us in this year’s tournament. We were both very focused on trying to win not stopping to eat or drink all day. 

The calm water conditions hurt us last year. Although we were team #83, we started the day with our opening spot all to ourselves. Every time we netted a fish, other boats moved closer and closer. Seeing our boats grouped up, other tournament anglers moved in from different sections of the lake and fished the area as well. By the end of the day there were approximately twenty boats around the spot. This year there must have been close to twenty boats that made this area their opening spot. Still, we didn’t let that get us down and worked hard, wasting as little time as possible. To beat the calibre of fishermen we were competing against, we not only had to be on big fish, we couldn't lose focus and we had to out-work everyone, hitting more key spots. Last year's fish were grouped-up, this year's catchable fish seemed to be spread out.

3)  How many bass did you catch during the 2011 BPS Lake Simcoe Open? Six. One was a tagged bass from a previous year. 

Depth? 20 to 35 feet of water

Techniques ... care to elaborate on types of baits, color, weight, brand names?  

Drop shotting and dragging. But I am sworn to secrecy by Gail on any other details.

Did you run and gun to several spots? 

We hit as many spots where I had caught big fish in the past, which were all GPS’d. Not all the spots had fish on them that would bite, but the ones that did had big fish on them.

How many spots and how long would you give each before you left?

A dozen. We spent 15 to 20 minutes fishing spot on spots. 

What you think you did differently than others to catch the bigger bass?

We hit specific spots which held big fish in the past.

4)   What did you think it would take to win this year? We thought it would take 30 pounds to win and guessed coming in that we had placed somewhere between 3rd and 5th. 

Did you know you had a smaller bag this time before weigh-in ... what were your thoughts after you made your last casts?

Yes, since we had weighed 4 of the fish that we were weighing in. We thought that our smallest, a  4.5 pound fish, would cost us.   

5) Was this the biggest win of your lives?   Plans for the winnings/future?  What do you think of this event compared to others you fish ...

Yes, to win a premier tournament like the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open is something that you dream of accomplishing. And to be able to do it with my wife who has supported my fishing for the past 20 years, allowing me to go out and prefish and prepare for these tournaments, is even better.

I'm sure over time; we'll invest the money back into the sport of tournament fishing (including next year’s Bass Pro Open). As all tournament anglers know, fuel costs to play this game are crazy.

6) There are plenty of big bass in Simcoe ... did you have areas that you ignored because they customarily produced smaller fish- perhaps just 4 pounders when you needed 6’s? 

We knew going in that we would need 6 lb + fish to win and therefore even though we found more spots which held fish, we avoided smaller fish spots that we found during our pre-fish.  

7) What are your views on Lake Simcoe? What makes it have the ability to produce such big bass year after year? Is it your favorite lake?

At first it is a very intimidating body of water due to the size and depth of the lake. The food chain is alive and well in Lake Simcoe. It’s an amazing fishery whether you are targeting 2 lb + perch in the spring, large northern pike, big lake trout, whitefish, slab crappie,  walleye, 5 lb + largemouth or smallmouth as large as last year’s 8 pounder. No matter how many 6 lb + smallmouth you catch their sheer size ‘wow's you’ every time one comes to the surface. Some jump and others torpedo past the boat during the fight.  Most local fishermen don't realize how lucky we are to have Lake Simcoe so close by. The abundant large perch, in our opinion are hands down the best fish to eat anywhere- even over our Kawartha Lakes walleye. Yes, it's our favourite lake, we can't wait until next year Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open!

8) Are there any tips that you can pass on to others who are interested in catching some of Lake Simcoe’s late season trophy sized smallmouth bass? What about any specialized equipment to make the job easier?

Gail and I have a book that we keep all of our fall, Lake Simcoe, fishing records in. We record both tournament and pre-fishing successes and failures.  We record what worked and what didn’t. What we can do to improve and where we can reduce wasted time on the water. As with most things in life, to remain competitive, you must always be moving forward and improving, because you can guarantee one thing, your competition be

Increasing the weight of your bait helps in rough water. If you don’t get your bait down to where the fish want it, you obviously aren’t going to catch as many. If you see a fish on your screen drop straight down to it with a drop-shot; many times you can get that fish to bite. Obviously, this is more difficult to do in rough water because you have to fight the wind and wave action to stay over the fish. At the start of this season, Gail and I purchased a Minn Kota Fortrex 101 for this very reason. After last year’s fourth place finish we knew we had some improvements to make and this was one of them.

The previous year we purchased an 8” (Lowrance) HD unit with structure scan. This unit is unbelievable and without it we wouldn’t be able to compete at this level.  The larger 8” screen is easier to read when bringing up two or more pictures on split screen at the same time.   

Wayne and Gail holding their winners cheque. Another ~$5,000
was theirs too for the Shimano Pay to Play pot.

We are sponsored by Redwing Tackle and truly use Spider Thread on all of our reels. Without this line, we wouldn’t have the sensitivity to feel those light bites. It’s smooth, low memory properties produce longer casts. This low stretch line also helps to provide solid hook sets when fishing in deeper water. We use 15lb test Spider Thread on most of our reels which is the equivalent to 6lb test mono in diameter. The small diameter braid along with a minimum of an eight foot fluorocarbon leader was instrumental in catching these finicky fish.

 Lasting thoughts? The week before the big event Gail asked me what I wanted this year for my birthday which happens to be October 24 (Monday following the tournament). I told her the only thing I wanted was to win the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open this weekend... I got my wish!!

Thank-you to the Aurora Bassmasters Club, Bass Pro Shops as well as all of the sponsors and volunteers involved with the tournament. You have all contributed to what is always a First Class Event. Thank-you for the experience of a life time!

We caught up with Wayne and Gail in early November after word got out that they had a sensational day of fun fishing on Simcoe ... and caught the biggest bass of their lives!  Here’s a photo of that fish below

Huge 8lb 3oz smallmouth caught By Wayne Misselbrook Nov1 2011.
8lb 3oz smallmouth

Please tell us about Nov 1st and this eight pound giant!

Gail and I spent the day on the water together, so it was her that took the picture. Prior to this fish, Gail was poking a little fun at me because amongst several other fish we  caught; her fish was the biggest at 6lb 6oz. The others were 5lb 11oz, two at 5lb 10oz and several others at 5lb 7oz to 5lb 6oz and smaller. Based on the Rapala Digital scale our five fish weight would have been 31.5 lb for the day, counting this 8lb 3oz fish.   (This would have tied last year’s all Canadian Record weight - set at the BPS Lake Simcoe Open.)
This is our first bass of this size. Our biggest prior to this one was 6lb 15oz with several other fish in the 6lb 8oz to 6lb 12oz range. 

2nd place Finishers tell their story

The team of Scot Murison and Paul Hecking weighed in 28.2 lbs or the weight of a few  coins away from the 28.5 pounds the winners had. In 2010, they placed 8th with 27.60 so they have weighed in their share of big bags before. They were so close to winning their first BPS Lake Simcoe Open that we realized they would also have a lot to offer anglers interested in knowing how they caught their big sack. We caught up with Scott and can offer you the following in his own words.

Paul Hecking (right) and Scot Murison look on as Wayne Misselbrook
and his wife Gail are being interviewed by MC Mike Brown

Interview with Scott Murison
What did you think of the tournament, or more importantly the finish?

It was a heart breaker for sure! But I’ve been on the other side and won by.03 as well, so it’s all part of the game! Plus I know Wayne, and he has worked really hard to win this tournament...It was just meant to be for him and Gail this time around and i’m thrilled for them.
Please pass on an account of your day.
We fished two areas in the tournament. With timing restrictions between 8am-3pm we allowed 45-60 minutes travel each way so that accounted for only five hours of actual  fishing time....Not a lot! Both areas had boats on them.

We started our day with two small two pound keepers, that neither of us have ever caught fish this small in this zone before. The fish we were used to catching here could surly have eaten these two pounders for breakfast!

We finally boated two good fish by 10am. By12:30 we got our limit fish, but that was still with those two small two pounders in the well!
Around 1:30 we decided to move to our other area, which proved to be our best decision of the day.  On our first pass we connected with a double header. Unfortunately we lost one and landed one. Both were tanks!  For the next 45minutes we connected with fish on every drift.  We got rid of those two small fish soon enough.

We caught about 12 fish for the day.  When I culled, I weighed our new smallest one which was around 5lbs.   I did not weigh the five we kept, as I like to use a balance beam, then there is no mistake with scales in the rough waters...trying to read the scale while you bob up and down! I figure we culled out 25lbs.

We lost a couple of key fish, which at the end of the day means 2nd place, not 1st! But these things happen in tournament fishing, and that’s why when you win it’s so memorable!

Last year's champions, Joe Muszynski (left) and Mark Moran getting ready
to weigh in their fish at the 2011 BPS Lake Simcoe Open

Can you pass on any specifics - baits and techniques used?

Our fish were caught  between 32-48 feet of water, on a few different patterns.
Our main pattern was to cover water dragging a  "set the hook" tube (Savoia special) on 3/4 jig head, and a 1 oz Carolina rig with a 'Set the hook" Jr Nailer ( a new proto type color M and M) which completely mimics a Simcoe goby! Once fish were located, we would target them with dropshot. We used a crush worm (smoke Joe) and the new JP Hammer Shad from Power Team Lures!
There are three main forages for Simcoe smallies, craws, gobies, and baitfish! If you can determine what the fish are feeding on that day then you greatly increase your odds of catching! This may seem like an easy thing to determine, but in fact it is very challenging!
I believe the fish on Simcoe are becoming very conditioned to baits. We were able to catch some fish in community areas that other were not able to because we had some baits the fish had never seen before.

A friend had given me a proto type drop shot bait to try from Power Team Lures, which will be available later this year! The JP Hammer Shad, does just what the name implies -It Hammers Big Fish!!

Paul Hecking and Mark Murison
Paul Hecking (left) and Mark Murison hold four of their five monster bass

Fake Simcoe goby bait like the real thing:

A few nights before the tournament Joe Muszynski and I worked with the Savoia’s to design the new "Simcoe" goby color which is called M &M.  This color in the water mimics a Simcoe Goby very closely, and accounted for our biggest fish of the day.

Huge Support for 2011 Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open - A Thank You

As a proud member of the Aurora Bassmasters, I’ve sat on the tournament organizing committee for this tournament every year. I have seen it struggle to attract more than 30 teams when it was still known as Crackle Cup tournament. That all changed when Bass Pro Shops Canada and their marketing genius George Wallace came on board. We suddenly had full fields and soon became recognized as the premier one day bass tournament in all of Canada.  Around mid-way through 2011, BPS Canada had new management and some wondered if the event would run at all.  Despite several challenges - it ran BIG TIME, with BPS fully committed and a full field of 110 teams competing for over 100% cash and prize paybacks ... another first class event for all involved.

A huge thank you goes out to the many volunteers from the Aurora Bassmasters along with support from several Barrie Bassmasters who helped make everything run so smoothly during the morning blast off and the weigh in hosted by Mike Brown and Jeno Huber.  Thanks to John Whyte of Time on The Water for his promotional support.  Thanks as well to club member Cam Mitchell for setting up and filming the event for live feed on the sites below.  Additionally, we would like to thank the Competitive Sport Fishing League (CSFL), led by Andy Pallotta and his wife Vita for their expertise, logistical support and tournament equipment.  Andy and Vita are truly committed to the future of this sport and have embraced this event with admirable passion and dedication.

Both anglers and tournament organizers always love coming to the fish-friendly community of Orillia and appreciate their excellent no charge launching and parking facilities. A key figure who helped with so much of the behind the scenes work in Orillia was Doug Bunker of the Orillia Chamber of Commerce.  
For more information on the Bass Pro Shops Lake Simcoe Open, please visit: and

The Shimano Live Release Boat
The Shimano Live Release Boat pulling out after the tournament.
All bass were released back into the lake by this specially rigged boat that
helps maximize long term survival of its precious cargo.
Last modified on Friday, 18 November 2011 11:02
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