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Fishtails

What's holding you back from fishing a tournament?

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With 2 young kids and more projects around the house than I care to admit, I'm lucky to get out fishing more than 3 or 4 times a year.  So for me it's just a schedule thing more than anything. 

 

Admittedly, even if scheduling wasn't an issue, there would likely be an intimidation factor as well.  Fishing so infrequently means I don't have the gear that I wish I did (autopilot!) and I don't feel prepared enough to do a tournament.  My fishing buddy and I have talked about probably trying to do one at some point eventually but not likely in the very near future.  

 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/29/2018 at 9:42 PM, Landshark said:

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.   

 

 

I think you make some valid points Mike.  I just don't know how they'd address the captain licence issue differently?  It seems no matter what, a certain group would be upset.     

 

The rule changes you speak of that were changing yearly were always at the insistence of the participants. Just as you don't like the captain's lic. rule, or someone doesn't like 9 fish, or 6 fish, etc, etc, etc.   Everyone got tired of that, and in the end it didn't seem to make a difference in participation numbers so to their credit the east end Pro Am's have both been steady on their general rules the past several years.  It's still important though to listen and adapt in order to stay relevant.  I always though Ivan did such a great job with the spring King Of The Lake event in Canada. 

 

As far as # of entrants, I know Sodus had shown steady growth on the Am side up until last year when all the complications of the high water levels kept many away.  Even so, the turnout was pretty fair.  Oswego has struggled a bit more with Am numbers and it doesn't make sense with all the boats, facilities and location that town has.  Growth should be so easy in that port compared to all others.

 

 

Edited by Fishtails

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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?

The rule that we have gone with is that if you have ran a charter within the last five years then you need to fish pro. If you have a license but haven’t used it, we are not going to force you to fish pro division.


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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.

There are no observers required in the amateur division. We have heard from many boats that this has stopped them from competing in the past and eliminated it a few years back.


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Currently I have no time or interest anymore. The "intell" some boats get is invaluable. You can't do anything about that, people have friends and that's a good thing, but it's a huge advantage.
*Get rid of the observer and ACTUALLY use the polygraph tests.
*6 fish rule with culling
*Stop making tournaments "top heavy". The more you charge in entry and give for first place will ruin a tournament in any sport in a heartbeat.
The first promising thing I've seen from the west end pro am in a long time is they are now going back to some of the original rules that made that tournament great. This crap that's been thrown at the fishermen in the last many years is completely mind boggling. Stop reinventing the wheel, just replace a few spokes.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, fishman08 said:


The rule that we have gone with is that if you have ran a charter within the last five years then you need to fish pro. If you have a license but haven’t used it, we are not going to force you to fish pro division.


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That is a GREAT rule Matt. You guys running the Sodus Pro Am rock !!!  I'm pretty sure I would have never thought of that. 

Edited by Fishtails

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We fished the sodus pro/am a couple years ago, it was a great time! Only thing keeping me from doing it again is the cost. I used about 35 gallons of gas in the truck, 70 gallons in the boat, lost some equipment from user error from my greenhorn crew. All in all it was an expensive learning experience. It was fun but tourney fishing really isn't my thing, I would do it again but only if it was closer to my home port (Henderson Harbor) I think the lack of Tournaments on the east end of the lake is pretty sad. Basically if you are any further north than Central square it's going to cost you a lot to get there.

 

One thing I didn't like was the size limit of the boat for Am division. There are a number of 20' boats (Lund, Alumacraft, Crestliner, Starcraft, Starweld) that are more than sea-worthy but could not compete just because of the boat size. Changing the required length to 20' from 21' might allow more people to enter.

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40 minutes ago, Chas0218 said:

We fished the sodus pro/am a couple years ago, it was a great time! Only thing keeping me from doing it again is the cost. I used about 35 gallons of gas in the truck, 70 gallons in the boat, lost some equipment from user error from my greenhorn crew. All in all it was an expensive learning experience. It was fun but tourney fishing really isn't my thing, I would do it again but only if it was closer to my home port (Henderson Harbor) I think the lack of Tournaments on the east end of the lake is pretty sad. Basically if you are any further north than Central square it's going to cost you a lot to get there.

 

One thing I didn't like was the size limit of the boat for Am division. There are a number of 20' boats (Lund, Alumacraft, Crestliner, Starcraft, Starweld) that are more than sea-worthy but could not compete just because of the boat size. Changing the required length to 20' from 21' might allow more people to enter.

 

Thanks for your input Chas!  I am not sure about Oswego, but after reading the Sodus rules it would appear there is no longer a minimum boat size for the AM.  

 

The rules are on the website and can be found here....

http://www.sodusproam.com/

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I might be up for throwing my hat back in the ring in the future. For now I have enjoyed doing benefit events like Healing Waters in Sodus and Reelin’ for a Cure. Great fun and atmosphere. 

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Someone had asked about participation numbers and growth in the Am division.  I don't have the Oswego numbers, but Sodus has a website with all that info.  It wasn't updated last year though so no numbers for 2018.

 

Sodus Pro Am Entries

2014 - 27 Pro Teams and 18 Am Teams  (45)

2015 - 27 Pro Teams and 19 Am Teams  (46)

2016 - 25 Pro Teams and 25 Am Teams  (50)

 

 

The Am side has shown steady growth.  It would be awesome to see a larger field of Am teams than Pro teams this year!!  

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30 minutes ago, Fishtails said:

 

Thanks for your input Chas!  I am not sure about Oswego, but after reading the Sodus rules it would appear there is no longer a minimum boat size for the AM.  

 

The rules are on the website and can be found here....

http://www.sodusproam.com/

Glad to hear, I will surely do it again but right now I have to concentrate on our house and kids, have to keep the wife happy!

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Just my 2 cents:

1. Entry fee, $200 is a lot of money if I have to run from Rochester.

2. I always thought you should be able to leave from multiple ports, example if the tournament is in Rochester you should be able to leave from Braddocks and I Bay and end up at the weight in.

3. No catch and release options, sorry I don’t eat fish and all my friends and family’s freezers are stocked and I have a lot of guilt if I had to throw them in the garden.

4. No late entry, I want to be able to PayPal the tournament director at 9pm Friday when I know there aren’t 4 footers that are going to kill me all day.

5. Why do all tournaments hate our only native species, the lake trout?

 

make it cheap and easy and they will come.

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On 6/5/2018 at 8:40 PM, jth21usa said:

Just my 2 cents:

1. Entry fee, $200 is a lot of money if I have to run from Rochester.

2. I always thought you should be able to leave from multiple ports, example if the tournament is in Rochester you should be able to leave from Braddocks and I Bay and end up at the weight in.

3. No catch and release options, sorry I don’t eat fish and all my friends and family’s freezers are stocked and I have a lot of guilt if I had to throw them in the garden.

4. No late entry, I want to be able to PayPal the tournament director at 9pm Friday when I know there aren’t 4 footers that are going to kill me all day.

5. Why do all tournaments hate our only native species, the lake trout?

 

make it cheap and easy and they will come.

 

There are lots of options for you that fall under your requirements.  You are describing more of a derby or shootout more than a tournament.  They can be lots of fun.

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Past experience where tournament directors don’t use common sense with respect to weather. When you fish from a smaller boat, marginal weather is risky. Small craft advisory as a determining factor is inconsistent. We were entered in a tournament with 25-30 mph winds and no small craft advisory was issued so tournament ran. Another time there was one issued the previous night, but the wind died and by the next morning it had settled to less than a 1 foot chop and the small craft advisory hadn’t been lifted so a two day tourney was decided on one day’s catch.

Weather has been a can’t get out safely in a small boat factor last two Niagara Pro AM. I’ve probably fished my last one for at least a few years. If the tourney runs and you don’t feel it’s safe to go out you’re just throwing the entry away.


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I was caught up in a PWT contest on Lake Erie one year that was run by outsiders who never fished the area. By 9:15AM the winds picked up to 45 mph. It took over an hour at five mph to return to Dunkirk. The waves were peaking over ten foot high and the boat was close to vertical many times. One bass type boat rolled over as a 400 pound angler upset the boat. Quite a few did not get the cancellation call over their radio and had a tougher time getting in. When you enter these contests you have to decide your self to go out.


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Fishing rough water on a large seaworthy boat most pro teams use with the incentive of a big purse is one thing.

 

Fishing those same rough waters on a small trailerable boat most amateur teams use for a purse that is usually 1/10 or less what the pro prize is another thing altogether.

 

In my mind if you’re going to run an amateur division it needs to be run in a different manner than a pro division. Not just team members, observers, number of rods, and fish, but with the understanding that most Am teams aren’t really after a big prize, it’s to have a good time and not throw away an entry fee.

 

I’d be a lot more inclined to fish a tournament if I could get my entry fee back the morning of the tournament if I felt it was to rough to fish comfortably in a smaller boat.

 

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I mainly fish lake Michigan from St. Joe to Muskegon.  I've fished a few smaller 1 day events, but once the entry fee increase from $20 to $30, it just wasn't worth it to me.  I know that's not much, but here are my concerns:

 

1. Shot gun start - I have smaller boat, and with a shotgun I have to stay inside the pierhead to avoid getting swamped when all the big boats take off.  I also am slower than some of the big boats.  I'm losing prime fishing time getting to my spot.

 

2.  Start time - some of the best fishing can be before the tournaments even start.  In the summer that can be 4:30 - 6:30 am.

 

3.  End time - If I've found a bite, I don't want to abandon it to go weigh fish.  I'd rather catch more fish while I'm out.  Or in other words, I've invested a lot of time to make it out.  I don't want to cut a trip shorter than it has to be if my crew is cool with fishing until 3 or 4 pm.

 

4.  Port restrictions - If there are good fish 10-15 miles away, I don't want to have to run that many miles to get on to fish.  I would rather just hop a port over and get them from there.

 

5. Weather.  Tournament says 1-3 foot forecast is ok to fish.  I'm only comfortable in my boat with under 2 foot waves.  2 foot and above just isn't fun.  Boat can handle it, but boat control becomes an issue.

 

6.  Money - When the winnings get into the good money category, I'm out.  Tends to bring out the worst in people sometimes.  I'm not fishing for the money but some people are.

 

7.  Info sharing - when a big tournament is coming up, people tend to hush up on the reports.  It's really hard to get any info.  I can't compete fairly when people are pre-fishing for 2 days and don't say a word.

 

8.  Big tournament behavior.  One example  - I went to a shop to get a second stinger spoon that had been good for me the past few weekends.  Guy says that someone came in and bought every one of several good spoons.  No way someone was planning on running 15-20? of the same spoon?  People will go around and buy every one of the hot baits in local shops so other tournament fishermen can't buy them.  Seriously?

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/7/2018 at 8:12 PM, John E Powell said:

Fishing rough water on a large seaworthy boat most pro teams use with the incentive of a big purse is one thing.

 

Fishing those same rough waters on a small trailerable boat most amateur teams use for a purse that is usually 1/10 or less what the pro prize is another thing altogether.

 

In my mind if you’re going to run an amateur division it needs to be run in a different manner than a pro division. Not just team members, observers, number of rods, and fish, but with the understanding that most Am teams aren’t really after a big prize, it’s to have a good time and not throw away an entry fee.

 

I’d be a lot more inclined to fish a tournament if I could get my entry fee back the morning of the tournament if I felt it was to rough to fish comfortably in a smaller boat.

 

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Tournament fishing isn't for everyone, and I'd go as far as to say it's not for most.  I hear you on your complaints and I also took in your issues with The Niagara Pro Am and their payout structure.  We all have opinions, both good and bad on practically every subject.   I asked what's the reason some of us don't fish tournaments so that we can have a healthy conversation mostly because I am genuinely interested.  

 

I don't necessarily agree with all of your opinions, but that's the thing about open discussions and opinions  :-)  I'm not looking to change anyone's mind.  The great thing is that there is something for everyone that has an interest.  The LOC derby is perfect for kingpossible and tons of others. Choose your days with weather, low entry fee, fish any port, etc. 

 

The small one day events like King of the Oak in Point Breeze, The A-Tom-Mik Challenge, The Fairhaven Challenge, The Sandy Creek Shootout, The Little Salmon River Challenge, etc are perfect for those wanting to take a step up from the derby thing. Low entry (lets be honest, if $50-$100 is too steep, than derby fishing is for you), one day event, choose one in a port close to you, a chance to compete and add a new dimension to your fishing adventures and test your skills against other anglers. If mother nature wins, it's only $50-$100  and you can choose not to fish. Often times entry doesn't need to be paid until the day before the event.

 

For the many who want to participate in a true tournament format and step up from the smaller shootouts there are the Pro Ams and Invitationals which from my expedience can be the most fun by far !! 

 

 I personally think most committees do an extraordinary job and I have fished many events in the last ten years.  Sometimes the wind blows. We fish a big lake.  I agree they don't get it right every time in every event when it comes down to the wind issue, but I know they do their best with the info they have and there's a lot more to it than most of us know.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Fishtails

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Well I guess with a question you had originally asked, you had to expect you were going to get a barrage of opinions. That’s good right? If the intent was to only end up suggesting that these tournaments are for those chosen few and not for everyone it kinda brings you back to full circle of what the outcomes your seeing? I was kinda of waiting for that one bull in the china shop charter captain to say quit your whining speech. Which may still come. Hopefully not, but it will lead you to an opinion that maybe some pros would rather have it the way it is? There’s a tremendous intimidation factor for many from an amateur standpoint. Whether you agree or not, many fish with kids and or non fishing buddies who generally are not comfortable going out a channel with elite fishing machines pushing them against the channel wall going out at start time. Allowing amateurs to spread out for what they are willing to drive to for weigh in and use their go to launch would, I think, make it more appealing and provide more of a comfort factor. Last thought that someone else previously touched on was the entry fee and to be able to pay up until the night before and at least get your money back the morning before start time in case of weather. There’s too much variability in the big O as everyone knows. To say that I’m going to take vacation, pay the entry fee in advance, get everything ready and find out that’s there’s 3 footers the morning of? Only happens once I guess. Safety concerns in one boat is not the same in another. Trying to balance that will get you some increased participation in these tourney formats if in fact that’s the goal. If not then as you suggested the derby’s will remain their venue. My hats off to the people putting the time in for these events. It has to take an incredible amount of time and effort I’m sure. This has been a good read for many I’m sure. Thanks for posting.


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Just my 2 cents:

1. Entry fee, $200 is a lot of money if I have to run from Rochester.

2. I always thought you should be able to leave from multiple ports, example if the tournament is in Rochester you should be able to leave from Braddocks and I Bay and end up at the weight in.

3. No catch and release options, sorry I don’t eat fish and all my friends and family’s freezers are stocked and I have a lot of guilt if I had to throw them in the garden.

4. No late entry, I want to be able to PayPal the tournament director at 9pm Friday when I know there aren’t 4 footers that are going to kill me all day.

5. Why do all tournaments hate our only native species, the lake trout?

 

make it cheap and easy and they will come.

The Monroe County Offshore Classic was designed keeping the regular Joe weekend guy in mind....

The entry fee was created to include a donation to a local charity.... Most tournaments do not do this ( healing waters might be the only other one, but I may be wrong). 200 entry is on the low end of all the tournaments on the lake.... When we decided on the initial dollar amount entry, we envisioned at least 3 guys per boat...say 75 bucks per man ( 3) including fuel. Not terrible considering I once paid a 4 person share of 250 each for a West end tourney.

As far as ports.... Rochester and Irondequoit bay are the participating ports. Braddocks has not been ruled out as a future port. We are just waiting to see how the dredging is working out ( there were some small issues earlier in the season with accessibility)

As far as signing up at the last minute.... I will be around Rochester the Friday before. 5pm is the cut off, however you will have to arrange to meet up with me before then. I explained that with pay pal comes fees.... And In the spirit of the tourney being 100% pay out ( minus the donation) we wanted it to remain as is for this year.

Now to the claim about Lake Trout.... Only being able to weigh one laker actually protects the species a little.... No one will be out raking 30-40 Lakers off the bottom if you can only kill one. The 5 fish box allows regular guys and charters to compete. Catching 5 fish usually isn't a problem for most..especially this year.

Last year there were people at the weigh in that took unwanted fish...

I get people will be reluctant to enter tournaments.... In fact anyone who,knows me will tell you I'm not a big tourney guy. What I am is, a guy who is proud of the fishery we are blessed with around Rochester. I'm proud of the diversity we have and I'm tired of the Monroe County area being the least talked about port on the Lake.

Good luck to all you guys who are thinking about fishing ANY of the tournaments on the lake. Tight lines boys....Matt

 

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1 hour ago, Frogger said:

Well I guess with a question you had originally asked, you had to expect you were going to get a barrage of opinions. That’s good right? If the intent was to only end up suggesting that these tournaments are for those chosen few and not for everyone it kinda brings you back to full circle of what the outcomes your seeing? I was kinda of waiting for that one bull in the china shop charter captain to say quit your whining speech. Which may still come. Hopefully not, but it will lead you to an opinion that maybe some pros would rather have it the way it is? There’s a tremendous intimidation factor for many from an amateur standpoint. Whether you agree or not, many fish with kids and or non fishing buddies who generally are not comfortable going out a channel with elite fishing machines pushing them against the channel wall going out at start time. Allowing amateurs to spread out for what they are willing to drive to for weigh in and use their go to launch would, I think, make it more appealing and provide more of a comfort factor. Last thought that someone else previously touched on was the entry fee and to be able to pay up until the night before and at least get your money back the morning before start time in case of weather. There’s too much variability in the big O as everyone knows. To say that I’m going to take vacation, pay the entry fee in advance, get everything ready and find out that’s there’s 3 footers the morning of? Only happens once I guess. Safety concerns in one boat is not the same in another. Trying to balance that will get you some increased participation in these tourney formats if in fact that’s the goal. If not then as you suggested the derby’s will remain their venue. My hats off to the people putting the time in for these events. It has to take an incredible amount of time and effort I’m sure. This has been a good read for many I’m sure. Thanks for posting.


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That was a great response Frogger, exactly the kind of healthy feedback I think coordinators reading this post can digest for future events.  Thanks for your input !! 

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A very interesting and informative post. Frogger hit a lot of the nails right on the head. There are obviously a lot of considerations and things to think about before either joining a tournament or designing and running one. As in public speaking knowing your audience and then tailoring material to them is essential for a positive result. Taking the things mentioned here into consideration is likewise a worthwile thing to do.

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In Alaska the limit on “King” salmon is one per person per day. Any fish taken into the boat is your limit and you are finished fishing for the day. You may release fish in the net that stay in the water and continue fishing. This insures unnecessary killing of fish. A thirty pound salmon is plenty of fish to feed your family for a year .


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A thought for some of you guys that may want to check out what the bigger tournament fishing is really like. Three upcoming tournaments will be requiring observers. The Pro side teams in Oswego and Sodus Pro Ams and The A-Tom-Mik Invitational.  You can get on a team as their observer and get a front row seat to truly see what it like, plus its the best way there is to learn from some of the best fishermen on the lake.

 

I'll be fishing the Am division this year in the Pro Ams. Am's don't need observers, but two of my team members on this years team have been past observers of mine, so you just never know where being an observer will take you? 

 

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