The first week of June is National Fishing Week — a perfect time to drop anchor with David Kinney, author of The Big One (davidkinney.net), a new book on tournament fishing that has been optioned by DreamWorks. Kinney, with Tim Smight for USA TODAY, shares his list of 10 best places to competitively bait a hook.
$150,000 Ice Fishing ExtravaganzaBrainerd, Minn.
For a reason unfathomable to summer anglers, Minnesotans love their winter ice fishing. The Brainerd Jaycees say that 20,000 holes are drilled in the ice for their annual three-hour contest, scheduled for Jan. 23 at Gull Lake. "This claims to be the largest ice-fishing tournament anywhere in the world," Kinney says, "and no one disputes that. More than 9,000 bundled-up anglers brave the freezing weather each year for a shot at a pickup and other prizes." 800-950-9461, icefishing.org
Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin TournamentCabo San Lucas, Mexico
"This one is billed as the richest fishing tournament in the world," Kinney says. "A single crew took home a check for almost $4 million one year. It's a wild scene, too, with colorful contestants, super-expensive boats and lavish parties." This year's event will run from Oct. 20-24. 714-393-6107, bisbees.com
Big Rock Blue Marlin TournamentMorehead City, N.C.
There are several big-money ocean fishing tournaments on the East Coast, but this event — Saturday through June 13 this year — is one of the most notable. More than 150 boats convene on the "Crystal Coast" of North Carolina to try for $1.8 million in prizes. "Even if you don't fish, it's worth cruising down to the waterfront in Morehead City to see the boats come in and watch the fish get weighed to the crowd's applause," Kinney says. 252-247-3575, thebigrock.com
S. Tokunaga Store Ulua Challenge Hilo, Hawaii
The Ulua Challenge, Thursday through June 14, has one especially unique feature among ocean-fishing tournaments: All participants must fish from shore. "There are three other reasons I'd like to fish this one someday," Kinney says. "It takes place in Hawaii, the weigh-in and award ceremony goes down in a lively joint called Aunty Sally Kaleohano's Lu'au Hale, and the quarry is the ulua — aka the giant trevally — which can top 100 pounds." 808-935-6965, tokunagastore.com
Okie Noodling TournamentPauls Valley, Okla.
Entrants in this contest, set for July 11, don't need any fishing gear at all. "Noodling" is a local term for bare-handed catfishing. Participants prowl the lakeshores and riverbanks in search of catfish holes, then reach in and try to pull the fish out. "The hand-to-gill combat guarantees that fishermen will end up scratched and scraped," Kinney says. "But there's also the risk of something worse: There could be a giant catfish in that hole — or even a snapping turtle." 405-238-6491, okienoodling.com
Alabama Deep Sea Fishing RodeoMobile, Ala.
"This one (July 17-19) is worth the trip just because it's probably the oldest ongoing fishing tournament in the country," Kinney says. "The contest was started back in 1929 by a Mobile businessmen trying to drum up tourism. Today more than 3,000 contestants fish it every July, chasing tarpon, king mackerel, amberjack and two dozen other kinds of sport fish." At stake: $400,000 in prizes. 251-471-0025, adsfr.com
Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby Martha's Vineyard, Mass.