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ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. -- To those in the professional bass fishing circles, Brian Schram is the rockin' fisherman. In the world of music, Schram is the fishin' rocker.
Either label fits with equal comfort for Schram, who is adept when his hands wrap around the frets on a guitar, or clutching a flipping stick fishing rod.
"I enjoy living in both worlds," said Schram, who on Thursday took part in the opening round of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open, which launched from Lake St. Clair Park here.
"I love my music and I love being out here on the water, chasing the fish all over the place. It doesn't matter which title comes first -- rocker or fisherman."
Schram, who grew up in Traverse City, Mich., was fishing the trout streams of his home state with his father as far back as he can remember. The music came along later, and Schram was good enough to land a gig touring and performing with Uncle Kracker, and was on board for Crue Fest 2, touring with Motley Crue.
His affinity for fishing landed Schram appearances on several popular outdoors-themed television shows, where friendships developed with some of the touring pros at the top of the bass circuit.
At the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, Schram was in the chase boat that followed pro Kevin Van Dam and he watched Van Dam win the event.
"That really inspired me. It put a passion in me for competitive fishing that I didn't know I had," Schram said. After tagging along as a "co-angler" at a number of events, and performing his solo music that Schram calls a Southern rock/pop blend, he moved into the pro ranks on the fishing side of his two-stage career this year.
"I also started a guiding service a few years ago, at the suggestion of Pete Mania, one of the pros," Schram said. "It gives you more credibility as a professional fisherman if you are out there guiding people. Once that business got going, I realized I did love this, especially working with kids and teaching them to fish. A lot of good comes out of that."
Schram splits his time between fishing and performing, but in the days leading up to the Northern Open, he was out on the water as much as possible, scouting and practicing.
The competitors in the tournament are permitted to fish the Detroit River, Lake Erie, and Lake St. Clair, but Schram, who lives just a couple of miles from the launch site, plans to stick with familiar territory and concentrate his tournament time on Lake St. Clair.
"You have to choose one place to fish, and the thing that would kill me would be trying to cover too much ground and out-smart myself," Schram said. "I've done most of my fishing right here on Lake St. Clair, so it makes sense for me to stick with the water I know best."
Schram, who caught a 52-inch muskie on his first trip to Lake St. Clair, knows some of his fellow bass anglers will make the long run to Lake Erie, hoping to get favorable weather and connect with Erie's population of huge smallmouth.
"There are some guys who will roll the dice and take that option, but I'm very confident there are winning fish in Lake St. Clair," Schram said.
"I know I am biased, but I honestly believe I have the best fishery on the planet right here in front of me, so why would I go anywhere else. My best chance to do well in this tournament is fishing right here."
The preliminary rounds of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open continue today, with the top fishermen in the field competing on Saturday for the prize money. The final weigh-in takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills.
HUNTING LOTTERY: Hunters will have a shot at taking part in the opening day of teal and early goose season at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area by entering a lottery for those coveted slots. Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area is in Sandusky County off State Rt. 6, between Fremont and Sandusky. The deadline for entering the Division of Wildlife lottery is Aug. 6.
The morning hunts are open to both adults and youths, while only those 17 and under can apply for the afternoon youth hunts. The hunting zones will be assigned in the order names are drawn. Each successful applicant will receive a permit and special instructions via mail, and be permitted to bring up to two guests with them.
To apply, applicants should send a 4-x-6 postcard with their name, address, and phone number to: ODNR Division of Wildlife District 2, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay, OH 45840. Only one postcard per applicant, and each card should be labeled at the top for the particular hunt being applied for.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.