Spring 2016 will be the host of one of the busiest seasons Grove has seen in years. Bassmasters is returning to the Grand Lakes during the first week of March.
Fishermen from all over North America have been visiting the area to learn the lake. The qualifiers have had from December till the first of January to practice and to get used to the water. However the flooding has forced the deadline to be cut off early.
One fisherman made a nearly twenty-three hour drive in plenty of time to practice for five days on the water. Charles Sim, a native of Montreal, Ontario, Canada, brought his boat down the second week of December in order to familiarize himself with the terrain and to get to know the lake as well as possible.
“It’s actually really important. I haven’t been doing a ton of actual fishing, I’ve been doing more driving around the lake and learning the lake. Kind of getting an idea of what the terrain is like,” said Sim.
Sim, who has lived in Ottawa, Ontario for the past 17 years says that he has been seriously fishing since he moved to the city.
“I’ve been doing tournaments, since I moved to Ottawa, so seventeen years. I’ve been fishing recreationally since I was three,” said Sim. “It was our family sport, our family pastime.”
Sims says his father was the one who really got him started in the sport. Sim also grew up doing quite a bit of ice fishing, however he has doesn’t enjoy it quite as much as he used to.
“Not so much as I get older. The older I get, the less I like the cold,” said Sim.
Sim began competing in tournaments in 1999. He joined the local bass master club as a non-boater, but it was three years before the lure of competition really took hold.
“I fished for two or three years as a non-boater before the bug really bit me and I had to buy my own boat, move to the front of the boat and start making my own decisions. So I competed kind of locally. The more I competed the more I wanted to move up the ranks to higher level events,” said Sim. “I probably didn’t win my first big tournament until 2005. So there were several years of learning and getting confident in my abilities and decision making.”
In 2009 Sim signed up for the FLW tour in the United States. Sim says that it was quite an endeavor to come down from Canada, both financially and in distance.
“It’s my passion. I spent all summer fishing,” said Sim.
Sim’s fisherman tales don’t exaggerate about catching massive fish. The largest fish he has ever caught was a forty pound muskellunge fish. Muskies are named for their interesting faces, the name originating from the French masque allongé, literally meaning long face. However it was his haul of ?? that qualified him for the Bassmasters.
Sim’s favorite memory was a record breaking one in 2009.
“A few years ago myself and my partner, we were the first team to weigh over thirty pounds in a five fish tournament. The record only stood for a year, but we were the first,” said Sim. “It was a small local event up on part of the Saint Lawrence River.”
The Bassmaster has fifty-five spots total, forty of those come from the elite series, nine from the AAA series and six come from B.A.S.S. Nation.
“That’s how I got through, was through the B.A.S.S. Nation. It’s actually almost a two year process of events and qualifying. First of all you have to make your state team, so make the top twelve in the state. Then you advance to divisionals. I won our team at the divisionals, which advanced me to the nationals. I won my division there to get my spot in the Classic. It’s a bit of a four step process,” said Sim.
Sim said that his reaction to the news of his qualifying was rather surprising and brought out a chuckle.
“Not very manly, I was in tears a little bit. It’s the pinnacle of our sport. It’s the biggest thing there. I never really though it was a possibility, then when it all hit me, when it all came down, I was overwhelmed with joy,” said Sim.
Sim is only the second Canadian who has qualified for the Classic. He was proceeded by Hank Gibson, who fished in the 1990 Bassmaster.
“The whole Canadian angling community has really gotten behind me and has been very supportive. It almost feels like I’m fishing for the country now, as well as myself. It’s a lot of pressure” said Sim.
Despite the pressure, Sim is ready for the challenges that the Classic will present.
“I want to be competitive. I understand that I’m behind the eight ball. Grand Lake is such a new style of fishery to me and fishing for bass at that time of year is pretty foreign to me because at that time of year our lakes are frozen and our bass season is closed,” said Sim. “It’s definitely going to be an adjustment, but I’m hoping to be as competitive as I can and at the same time enjoy and embrace the whole experience.”
Sim said he has enjoyed his time in Grove.
“It’s been great. Its got a small town feel,” said Sim. “I popped into the taco shop and everyone was just so elated about the classic coming… They were just so happy for me to be here for the Classic. It was really, really neat to see the support from the community.”
Sim really enjoys playing guitar, traveling and playing pool. He also spends the off seasons working at trade shows and giving seminars. He has a passion for educating the upcoming generation of fishermen.
“I pride myself on kind of being one of the good guys. I’m very easy-going, very approachable. I’m always trying to promote fishing and help teach people. I joined the sport as a non-boater and there were a lot of people I learned a lot from along the way. It’s always important to me to share what I know with the new-comers, kind of a giving back kind of thing. It sounds kind of corny, but that how I am,” said Sim.
His advice to any upcoming fisherman is to simply spend time on the water.
“The more time you’re exposed to it the better you’re going to be prepared to deal with changing situations. Ask questions and fish with as many people as possible. In life you learn from other people’s experience, its the best way to fast track the learning curve,” said Sim.