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What's holding you back from fishing a tournament?

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With Memorial day weekend upon us, it's time to begin preparing for the upcoming tournament season on Lake Ontario's east end.  Oswego and Sodus are setting up for one of the best seasons in memory. Fish are so abundant this year, if you were ever going to enter a well structured fishing tournament like the Pro Am's, this is your year!!!  

 

I fished my first tournament in 2008.  I entered the Oswego Pro Am in the Amateur division. I had just started fishing the great lakes, catching the very first salmon of my life in 2006. I guess fishing a tournament so quickly was a tad premature for such a novice, and as fate would have it nothing went right that day.  I actually ended up being towed in by the Coast Guard. That didn't deter me though, as I witnessed first hand the friendships that develop and friendly competition that takes place at the Pro Am's. That Excitement I felt as we took off in the morning full of hope into the unknowing with all those other teams is something that I find just as thrilling today.  

 

A lot has changed in the past 10 years and the Pro Am's entrants have fallen almost every year. On the Pro side, It's understandable.  There are only so many teams willing or able to fish pro, and charter season is in full swing on the east end in July with many captains working both days and some with doubles. Its hard to pass on that guaranteed income with only a few months to make it.  It's expected that some Amateur teams will eventually step up to the Pro side and add growth to the pro division, and a few have. With the expectation of new teams entering the Am each year, the tournaments should experience constant growth.  So why hasn't this happened?

 

A buddy who is on the Sodus Pro Am committee said to me recently that he was trying to figure out how to get more teams involved?  It got me thinking, why don't we see more new teams each year?  Perhaps, it's because we just don't speak about them much anymore. Not like we used too.  I guess that's why I decided to start this thread while I enjoy my cup of coffee this morning.  

 

If you are reading this, my question to you is what is keeping you from entering a Pro Am?  Some good input could be helpful to understand how today's fisherman view tournament fishing.  I think if some of you actually participated, or even just attended you'd see that the teams in the Am division are just a bunch of weekend warriors, family and friends just out having a good time. You definitely should not be intimidated  lol.  The entry is minimal, but the enjoyment can be off the charts!  With all the fish this year, anyone can win some $$ as well, though the true measure of these events isn't in where you finish or how much you win. It's the fun you'll have with family and friends, the memories you'll create, the many friends you'll make, the thrill of competition, the atmosphere and the excitement. 

 

For many of you who know me, you know my story. I have fished these tournaments predominantly with my son.  He began with me when he was 11 years old.  We've finished last, and we've finished first. We've fished small one day events up to the most prestigious invitationals, all for the love of the sport. 

 

Oswego Pro Am takes place July 14th - 15th

Sodus Pro Am takes place July 21st- 22nd

 

These two events are GREAT tournaments. No observer needed in the Am division!   I personally enjoy the Pro Am's more than one day events. So much so that I haven't even fished a one day smaller tourney in several years. I just like the segregation of the Am's and Pro's in separate divisions and we love the atmosphere!  It's my favorite format, with the 6 rod, 6 fish invitationals running a close second!!  

 

If you have any questions on entering, dockage, accommodations, etc - just ask and someone will help answer your questions. Put a small team together and give a Pro Am a go this year!! I've already fished Sodus several times with just 2 people, myself and my son so its not like you need 4 guys.  You need 3 team members for Oswego and 2 for Sodus to cover the 9 fish and 6 fish limit. 

 

Hope to see many of you there!!

 

 

 

 

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I wouldn't mind fishing the tournaments, but with only a 20' boat, if the weather doesn't co-operate, I'm done before it started. The A-Tom-Mik a few years back comes to mind, I'm sure even the bigger boats had 2nd thoughts about going out.

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Good point !!  I Totally understand the weather / boat size issue.  I think a lot of us struggle with that even coordinating a regular fishing trip.  Sometimes mother nature is the ultimate winner.  

 

I think the committees have done what they can with that regard, in that they will usually allow cash entry right up to the day or two before the main event knowing that there will be some teams that want to watch the forecast. Just be sure to check with them beforehand on their policy.  

 

Entering last minute is problematic for the committee though, and causes extra work and concern for them so to offset that I know Sodus (not sure about Oswego) has a drawing for a free entry to all teams entered by a certain date. 

 

Just something to keep in mind if the weather is your main concern.  They never fish if there is a small craft issued.  

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Is there still a rule that if you have held a captains license in the last five years you are not allowed to fish on the amateur side?

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Love the boat name Mike  :smile:

 

I'd guess so, but I'll leave that answer for someone who actually knows.  

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Great post. Some of the greatest memories of each season are made at the Pro Ams--and definitely some of the best lessons learned as well. Lifetime friendships are forged, and Professionals get to hone their craft for upcoming charter trips.

Some of todays top Pro anglers started as Ams or observers.

 

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My boy is only 5 can he count as a second


Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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The observer thing is a no go for me, I can't pay someone to watch me fish. If an observer is needed there must be too much rule violation.

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Iceman said:

The observer thing is a no go for me, I can't pay someone to watch me fish. If an observer is needed there must be too much rule violation.

 

I did the Observer thing last year for the A-Tom-Mik Invitational.  I fished with guys I never met on Friday and observed on tournament Saturday. I'd do it for free, just for what I learned from being on those 2 boats.

Edited by sszoldra
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No observer is needed in the Am division in either Oswego or Sodus Iceman.  The observer was eliminated several years ago because of the many many requests to do so. 

 

 

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I know a lot of guys that aren’t happy about the tournaments because of the way things were run by previous organizations. The bass guys are the number 1 reason why people have a bad tast in their mouth. I think the people who come out of the wood work to sponsor these things are truly amazing!! On the other hand firing the fish in the dumpster after the show is another bad taste left behind. I thought I heard about someone taking them for the needy. A lot of the bytch is why can’t there be a catch, weigh, measure, with pics and release. I know there is a lot of room for cheating there. The main thing is society is changing by leaps and bounds!! We have the tree huggers, the frog lovers anything that pertains to taking a life anymore is frowned upon. Nothing gets me more irate then some azzhole blowing the horn for a mile if they see my or anyone else’s truck parked along the road during the hunting season. I think with fishing it is the only sport that the fish-(animal) gets a second chance. This might be why the fishing business is booming. This generation that’s coming up behind us is down right scary, most all accept a few would starve to death if there wasn’t grocery stores, and the cluelessness of where things come from or if they can’t have instant gratification they are not interested, such as the fast pace video game on their phone!! they positively can not wait for a hour or more for a hit, then when they get the fish to the boat, they freak because they don’t know to do next!! This may sound over exaggerated but trust me it’s not, you wouldn’t believe the stories I hear from my wife’s job as a school teacher. Hope this sheds a little light on this very subject. It might be from a different angle of perspective but it’s the way of the world and we’re taught especially me to keep our thoughts to ourselves, if I had a dollar for every elbow I took to the ribs from my wife because I speak my mind the way I was taught to be or people would walk all over you. Being in business for 22 years with the general public was a real eye opener!! I personally know parents that are so frustrated with their own child because they won’t engage in the outdoors they just throw their hands in the air and go themselves, but if they would have taken them at a younger age as we see on this very site, parents getting their children into fishing or the outdoors early before they can form their own beliefs from their friends or the internet. We had children fishing with dads out there not long ago, this is what is needed way more than one realizes!! I hope this doesn’t turn into a cluster mess!! If this is your beliefs then in layman’s terms it’s your opinion!!

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It is my understanding as stated above about the captains license. I hold a captains license but am not a charter.  I decided to get it in hopes of having a nice retirement job some day.  I work a full time job that requires a lot of overtime most weeks so my time on the water is very limited.  Hard to compete in the pro division with guys who charter and have a great network of friends on the water everyday and know where the fish are. I have to figure it out every time I get on the water.  By no means am I putting them down but I just don't feel like making a financial donation just to say i fished a pro am. And yes every dog has its day but I think you get my point.  I love to fish and like the competitive nature of tourneys which is why I do fish the smaller events like the challenges.   

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42 minutes ago, rocky1 said:

It is my understanding as stated above about the captains license. I hold a captains license but am not a charter.  I decided to get it in hopes of having a nice retirement job some day.  I work a full time job that requires a lot of overtime most weeks so my time on the water is very limited.  Hard to compete in the pro division with guys who charter and have a great network of friends on the water everyday and know where the fish are. I have to figure it out every time I get on the water.  By no means am I putting them down but I just don't feel like making a financial donation just to say i fished a pro am. And yes every dog has its day but I think you get my point.  I love to fish and like the competitive nature of tourneys which is why I do fish the smaller events like the challenges.   

Exactly the same as me

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Every opinion matters Pap, it's just an open discussion so thanks for the input.  The main thing I'd point out is the throwing fish in the dumpster comment.  No tournament on lake O would ever condone such an act.  Has it "ever" happened, I'm sure it has. There are lowlifes in every walk of like. Mom's have thrown their newborn babies in a dumpster as well. It's more reflective of that individual. 

 

It's always the ugly story that grabs the headline, but there are far more positive ones that go unheard.  Last year at the Sodus Pro Am, I had 12 fish I really preferred not to clean.  I would have never kept them had it not been tourney day. My wife and I drove to Arney's marina, where there was a couple from Rochester fishing for catfish.  I offered them all our salmon, and the woman was so elated she was crying!! This fish would feed them for weeks. They only had a tiny 6 pack cooler (with two sunfish in it), so he was going to just lay them in the bed of his truck.  To see her so happy and grateful was truly heartwarming and I didn't want to see the fish spoil in the hot sun. I had a spare cheaper cooler, so I just gave it to them and packed the 12 salmon in Ice and they raced away. 

 

This type of story is never heard, because we don't do good deeds for the praise or recognition. This family doesn't get those fish if there is no tournament. Just sayin.  These fish are stocked to be caught. No comparison to bass , etc.

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When you need 9 it shoots down the smaller boats that might fish 2 guys.  As things have evolved even though I've fished the lake for a long time I fish solo or with 1 nearly all of the time.  I'd be into the competition, but it tends to require bigger and more than I have.   I use to fish in a bigger boat for a long time, but the smaller boats are more economical and fish "larger" than years ago so thats where I'm at.   A solo category would be super interesting to me.  Won't ever happen but dare to dream. 

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Separate prizes for a one man boat , two man boat, three man boat, four man boat would attract more entrants. Competing against a boat fishing eighteen lines is unfair to a smaller boat.


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1 minute ago, jimski2 said:

Separate prizes for a one man boat , two man boat, three man boat, four man boat would attract more entrants. Competing against a boat fishing eighteen lines is unfair to a smaller boat.


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Most tournaments on Lake Ontario had a 8 rod limit.  

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Fat Trout, I do agree that 5-6 fish limits are where it's at.  The Sodus Pro Am has a six fish limit and may be the funnest tournament on the south shore.  

 

Jimski - Both Sodus and Oswego Pro Am's have a 6 rod limit in the Am division.

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Great thread Rod.  I encourage anyone taking the time to read it to enter an event.  We started fishing the great lakes around 2010 and started fishing the LOC, then the Niagara Pro AM, and the LOTSA event.  That's about all my vacation time allows for, but, would fish them all if I had the time off.  Not only is it fun, but, you get the opportunity to mingle with other fishermen....and make new friends.

 

For what it's worth, I run a 22ft aluminum and usually fish with 1 other person - 5 rods.  The only time I've felt uncomfortable on the lake, the tournament control called it due to small craft advisory. 

 

The best part of any event, you can see how you would've faired if you ponied up the big money and played with the PRO's.  You might be surprised in what you find.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, jimski2 said:

Separate prizes for a one man boat , two man boat, three man boat, four man boat would attract more entrants. Competing against a boat fishing eighteen lines is unfair to a smaller boat.


Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

Way too complicated for the officials to sort out. 5-6 fish limit with max of 6 rods is about as fair and basic as it gets. Fished the WHI with 5 aboard plus observer, 6 rods are all that's allowed. Makes you really think what to run,riggers//divers/copper/lead core/planer boards and then you get into meats/spoons/flys/flashers etc. Pretty much evens out the playing field.

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2 hours ago, Bozeman Bob said:

Way too complicated for the officials to sort out. 5-6 fish limit with max of 6 rods is about as fair and basic as it gets. Fished the WHI with 5 aboard plus observer, 6 rods are all that's allowed. Makes you really think what to run,riggers//divers/copper/lead core/planer boards and then you get into meats/spoons/flys/flashers etc. Pretty much evens out the playing field.

I would think having a solo category wouldn't be too bad to sort out.  I would agree on 1,2,3,4 being a bit much though.  Get a few solo guys to meet each other at events and next thing you know you have some teams of 2 or 3.

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Can someone who knows please answer the question posed by Landshark about a licensed Captain competing in the Amateur division?

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34 minutes ago, Fat Trout said:

I would think having a solo category wouldn't be too bad to sort out.  I would agree on 1,2,3,4 being a bit much though.  Get a few solo guys to meet each other at events and next thing you know you have some teams of 2 or 3.

My issue with one man teams on Ontario would be safety. I would never run one allowing that (, possible insurance issues,? ) they have a tendency to run them in rougher conditions and I wouldn't want a deadly accident hanging over my head.

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The Sodus pro am website has the rules posted. If any team member has had a captains license in the past five years, you must compete in the pro division.

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To me it is a bad rule.  I received my license so that I could be a better boater and maybe someday make a dollar with it.   Does it make me a better fisherman?  Absolutely not, it makes me a better and safer boater.   

  Some say that amateurs don't want to compete against "pros".   I believe that the best want the prestige by beating the best.  The purse and entry fees for amateurs should remain low. Low risk low reward.  Obviously just the opposite for pros.  A simple piece of paper should not determine eligibility.   If there must be a way to separate, then why not make it that if you operate a charter business, have a charter website, etc....   Then you must fish pro.   That makes more sense to me if there must be a way to define an individuals eligibility.   

   I also feel like tournament rules seemed to change every year.  It was hard to keep track.  All the different boxes etc...   I wish there was a somewhat standard tournament set of rules lake wide or at least stateside wide.   6 best fish for ams and 9 best fish for pros.  It seems like everyone is trying to re-invent the wheel. Does anyone else wish that things were a little simpler?   I understand limiting the number of lakers to a box.   

   The royalty of the ProAms in my opinion has been watered down.  So many tournaments have been created.  Im not saying that is a bad thing but it use to be everyone wanted to be the pro am champs.   It was pro ams above all with a couple of other smaller or localized derbies mixed in.  I honestly have not even looked at pro am rules in the last few years because I lost interest.   Did the number of entrants go down over the last say 10 years?  I know im just rambling but I wonder what others are thinking.   

 

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