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Wilson Harbor Invitational Update

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 Here are a few items regarding the 2020 WHI being held may 16th-make up day 17th


Web site will be updated and finalized in 7-10 days and on line registrations taken.  The trout and salmon slam will have same format as well as 1K a day.

There are a few other changes noted in promo video: If video quality needs improved on your viewer, go to settings at lower right corner of the video and change your settings.


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If anyone fishing or plans on fishing the WHI and has any brief input on a few of the major changes, please submit a brief reply.  Tournament organizers are always looking for ways to increase participation, or give events a new twist, or make changes due to comments from the past events. Like the dropping of the observer rule.  Could be a good or bad thing but its a hangup for many and adds a body to someone's boat. So, proposing to drop it, may be a liked change and increase participation?


Last year's WHI went very well, payout was as good as it can get for the number of participants, weigh in went fast and was very well run.


This years biggest proposed changes are: no observer (LD test in lieu of), 8 rods from (6), Canadians fee is at par, so it may increase CND participation?, 7 fish max weigh (all could be kings or a combo of kings BUT 2 lake trout max)in an effort to possibly take some pressure off kings, put some pressure on trout and possibly create a different strategy. (King only guys might prefer a king only format-diverse guys may like an event with a twist similar to many south shore NY events which allow trout) and king-laker box is consistent with the week long trout and salmon slam leading up to the WHI.  


Also keep in mind, the LOC is also occurring that week and includes those two species as well.


Those are the major changes occurring as the teaser video indicated.



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I was directed here for comments on the proposed changes. Kudos on last years organization and streamlined weigh ins/awards. 

I was asked to keep it brief and encourage others who are chirping behind the scenes to keep it the same.

1)Rods--We have no problem with this, nor should any of the participants

2) No observer--this definitely has it's Pros and Cons. In light of some of the recent happenings in the Tourney world, this should be weighed carefully. The format and upping the rod allowance does open the door to consider this. IF an independent(non participants) crew did boat checks(not just the cooler) then all there would be left to be concerned about is the closed communication enforcement.

Of course if Lie detector tests are mandatory then yes the observer could be eliminated. 

3) 7 Kings/Coho-- we see no problem with this.

4) Lake Trout-- No.  They have no place in this event. Of course some years its a bloodbath and it comes down to ounces, other years teams will struggle to hit Pacific Salmon quota. The teams that fish this and similar events don't need the comfort of aged Lakers in their boxes.

5) If you truly want to relieve pressure on Kings eliminate the "Slam" aspect during the week prior. Just up the ante on the "1K" portion, perhaps go "2K" if you want people out fishing hard all week. Then only one large fish is sacrificed(if that) per day, with the same amount(if not more) of effort/expenditures.

Thank you for all the effort in coordinating this.     


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We come from Dunkirk and fish the Salmon Slam and really enjoy that aspect of the tournament. 

I like the 8 rod deal and if there is a lie detector not having an observer is a plus. It’s not hard finding an observer but it is just something else to worry about. 

I absolutely love how streamlined and fast weight in is. The tournaments on Erie the weight ins take forever. 

On the Lake Trout aspect for both Salmon Slam and WHI it presents a bit more strategy but catching a really large laker in my opinion is just a numbers game. With the size of the lakers vs kings a large 20plus laker would definitely skew the results. Very well could take a sub par king box and win the WHI which would not be a good thing. 

We will fish regardless of rule changes and am very appreciative of all the people that make these events happen. 

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Good comments so far.


To keep it transparent...and note clarifications.


As of yesterday:

Kevin is also considering opening up the border again due to the observer rule being lifted and the fact that recently (2 years ago???) the boundary crossing (back and forth) gray area was clarified in writing.

He feels many Canadian anglers were unintentionally shut out when he said no crossing.  But may allow it in 2020. There is a similar thread on SpoonPullers.


Re: observer elimination: there are many deterrents that are being planned to help deter the possibility of cheating.  We would be tipping the hat to state them here but are very aware and have intentions to put in deterrents. We all know, cheating can occur when observers are on boats.  Hidden phones below, sleeping observers, observers who have stated they dont care what we do, observers who dont get asked to look at fish prior to releasing, on and on. They still remain the best deterrent but have drawbacks and still do not guarantee "no cheating" occurred. So, in the interest of attracting more teams, observers probably will be dropped in 2020.


Last year, the tourney went very well and was efficient.  They take a lot of effort in planning, revising web sites, rules and of course organizing a week long event.


All intended rule changes are being done/considered with regard to continue to protect the integrity of the event, while looking at ways to increase participation.  NOT so certain individuals can gain an edge.  Those behind the scenes suggestions and "dark texts" will be ignored.


The new proposed format is consistent with the week long format as well as LOC (to some degree).


Feedback from teams interested in the event are desired.

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I'm trying to sell my guys on entering this year and this gives us a few more things to think about. 


I'm good either way on # of rods.  No observer would definitely help having a smaller boat.  I do like the idea of an observer in this type of a tournament.   I agree with Vince on the kings and coho.  Adding lake trout really doesn't interest me.  I like the idea of opening up Canadian waters.  Just my 2 cents, I'll be interested to follow along.  Thx!

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Last year was the first WHI we missed since its inception.  We chose to pass on it for various reasons.  None of which were the format or the weigh in for that matter.  The core group of tourney anglers understands why participation has declined over the years.  Lake Trout?  really?  If you plan on participating in this one, you better get 2 big ones.  Kings wont do it for you ever.....  Sounds like a tweak to benefit a few.  No Observers??  After what has taken place the last few years around the lake without a doubt this is a step backwards unless and maybe I missed it, a mandatory lie detector test of not only the captain but the team.is a must. Observers not only protect the integrity of the team they represent, they protect the assigned boat as well.  It was predictable that the observer would go away and then the border would open back up.  The border discussion has always been there.  Again tweaked for a few.  These new changes will keep us out indefinitely.


I usually keep my mouth shut for the most part on social media platforms when it comes to these tourneys but this one is very disappointing.  Granted we have not had a lot of success in the WHI but it was always a yearly favorite. Its first 3 years it was the best the south shore had to offer, now who knows.  Regardless of tough fishing or a smash fest, that's what makes for a great tourney.


I would take a real hard look at what made this tourney successful in its early years and return too it. 

Edited by Tall Tails
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I have only fished this event for the last 5 years and have noticed a decline. Obviously you have your “mainstays” but there seems to be a lot less people around in general. I to agree that lakers should not be part of the tournament, maybe they think it will kill “less kings with the declining stock programs”? It’s a salmon tournament, may the best team win!!! As far as the observer, it’s a shame that this actually has to be a topic of conversation, but i can attest that most of the observers that have been on our boat (not just in the WHI) have had no idea what they are doing, or what they are even looking for. Alot of them just seem to be thrown on a boat last minute. I would say 1) no observers and each team that finishes in the $ has to take a lie detector (no matter who it is) not sure what it would cost or how much time it would take. I would actually rather see the $100 that we typically give the observer used for something relative to the tournament than just “paying joe schmoe who was begged to fill an open observer spot and could care less about being there. Maybe $50 of it goes to pay for the lie detector and $50 goes into a calcutta? There would be many option. Or 2) the entry team itself actually has to provide an observer and not just have one appointed or found by someone in the tournament.
Tall Tails, I wasn’t involved when this tournament was in its infant stages bit hear people say all the time that it was awesome. What was so different then that made it better? Why have people stopped fishing it?

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I think when evaluating any tournament teams look at two items (not gimmicks), entrance fees and payouts. Despite having stores (skin in the game) in Toronto, St Catherines, Buffalo and Auburn, I have not seen Bass Pro/Cabela’s presence in these events. I think the answer would be partnering with BPS and see if the event could be televised. 

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4 hours ago, Gill-T said:

I think when evaluating any tournament teams look at two items (not gimmicks), entrance fees and payouts. Despite having stores (skin in the game) in Toronto, St Catherines, Buffalo and Auburn, I have not seen Bass Pro/Cabela’s presence in these events. I think the answer would be partnering with BPS and see if the event could be televised. 

I like your idea of partnering with BPS and see if the event could be televised. 


Also i don't think Lakers should be allowed. I believe there should be a tournament or 2 for Lake trout but they shouldn't be apart of this tournament.

I like the no observer idea and just have boat checks but with the boarder issue i don't see how this is possible. 

I don't think that teams should be allowed to go over into Canada, as its a US tournament so US waters.

Also i don't see how Canadian dollar entry fee being on par with US dollar fee is fair. As it will only cause the overall payout to be smaller and cause US teams to basically pay more. 

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I think when evaluating any tournament teams look at two items (not gimmicks), entrance fees and payouts. Despite having stores (skin in the game) in Toronto, St Catherines, Buffalo and Auburn, I have not seen Bass Pro/Cabela’s presence in these events. I think the answer would be partnering with BPS and see if the event could be televised. 

They tried to do that with the Pro-Am and the contractual/commercial side effects caused a lot of angry reactions and left the Pro-Am badly damaged and much less popular.

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United
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Good feedback so far and appreciated except for Tall Tails who had to give his opinion as to why the rules/event changes may be implemented="Tweaked for a few".  

Not sure who the "few" are but all ears?  And actually surprised you want to state that's why a few of these changes were considered. You are 100% wrong.


VP stated it well..  Comments about the changes were requested but insinuations about why changes are being sought should be kept to the dark text threads.


A reminder Tall....

The event was open originally to Canada with intent to make it an international event with all the hoopla. So, it would be going back to it's origins.  The Canadian participation dropped when the event disallowed crossing into CND.  It was "alleged"  that certain captains pressured Kevin into that, combined with observer issues, who was or was not allowed into CND, and a gray area about the requirement to call in or not when crossing.  All combined=a decision to nix Canada.  Some liked, some disliked and we moved on.  A lot of Canadians disliked. So, since the gray area has been cleared with regard to crossing, no observers, the event is a week later and attendance down overall, it was considered as a good time to reconsider that. The event being a week later, also takes less emphasis on west end CND Kings and where they may be.  (Where did Rob T win last year?) The purpose was: go back to the origin and increase attendance/regain some Canadian anglers to make the event bigger. 


hookmeup pretty much stated the intent with the observer to a "T".  Some observers are great and do their job but some (many of us) have had bad experiences where they did not or care to do what they were paid for.  That's a simple fact. Options are in the works to use those monies typically paid to observers to fund other measures.  None inc. observers are perfect.  Sad we even have to deal with it but we do.


8 rods =OK


Lakers seem to be the big dislike and the feedback on it is good.  They were considered/wanted added to be consistent with the trout and salmon slam, change strategy, add a twist to the event, take some pressure off the salmon (which was why it went to 5 kings and 2 lakers during the week long event).  Nothing more, nothing less and certainly not to benefit a few.  If the LOC wasn't the same week and folks were not already targeting kings and trout all week, the trout and salmon slam may have been nixed but people are fishing anyways and non WHI anglers are open to fish this and the 1K a day as well. (Those two week long events are not restricted to WHI players)




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I am from New York and am all for opening it up to Canadian waters. You no longer have to do anything to cross just as long as you don’t go to shore and even then it’s a simplistic process. I have had great experiences with observers on my boat but we are pretty laid. This tournament is very well run and personally cannot understand why there is not more entrants. On Erie we have waiting list for tournaments of a 100 boats with similar money. 

I also have no problem on allowing the Canadians to pay like in the post in order to attract more contestants.

I think eliminating the observer will increase small boat guys and folks whom might travel. It’s uncomfortable in some cases to be observer. We have had women twice and this years I’m a nervous wreck making sure the toilet is clean at 5am. Both were great but its uncomfortable for both parties. Especially if someone actually tries to cheat that observer is in weird place. Lie detectors are good deterrent for cheating.  My opinion on boat checks is they are a waste of time. If you have a 30 ft boat you could find a place to hide fish. 

On the lie detector they should test 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Then randomly draw 2 or 3 more in top 10. 


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First off thank you for all the reply's. The purpose of the post was to highlight some of the options we have been pondering these are not iron clad changes that are at this point definitive. This tournament since its inception has always been about the majority. No one rule change has ever been to thwart the efforts of any one team and none are there to benefit any one group of anglers. 


Let us first take on the Laker option.....this simply came from both a state of the lake thought process as well as something that we thought could be strategic and fun. With stocking on the decline and catch rates up we thought it might be a way to target the hungry garbage cans that continue to hurt our bait populations. We thought it might be fun to switch gears especially because of the success that the Oak Orchard has enjoyed over the years. Our focus continues to be KING SALMON obviously and will likely continue as it always has and remain 6 kings.


At PAR entry..... Our sport has always seemed like it could survive the apocalypse. When you see where we started and continue to look around the lake you will see plenty of options for tourneys. Participation is more regional and travel from region to region (by boat) isn't what it once was. We live in the age where if you've been in the game long enough you have literally met all the first and second tier guys. Everyone has plenty of ideas of who we should talk to for sponsorship but at the end of the day sponsorship is decided on bodies. How many eyes will see my product. With over 50 tournaments on just Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan alone how do you think those marketing dollars get split up amongst everyone? Better yet take a guess on what kind of volume your favorite tackle company does or what their marketing budget may be? The only way for more sponsorship and money is more people. Forget Bass Pro the inland game is so much bigger. Unfortunately the Great Lakes Salmon Market is one of the smallest segments.


The Canadian dollar is cost prohibitive as it pertains to tourney fishing here in the states. By the time you figure meals, lodging, entry, tackle and fuel the extra 30 percent adds up. With participation being the key element of any tourneys success money in = money out and people = sponsorship it makes plenty of sense to offer our fellow anglers from the North a bone. Factor in regionally how close the GTA is to Wilson and you just might end up with a sponsor as well, on top a pool of new entrants. 


Observers.... Tuff one and one I take pretty serious. Given the mixture of talent at this position it has outgrown its use. With al the problems the past few years in various tournaments I cant think of one where the observer has made the difference. Many eat,sleep and drink the day away. Some are the next gen salmon anglers others are there to take your money and often root against you come way-in after bonding with "their" team all day. Many just don't take the job seriously and we as tournament committees assume all is well when there are no complaints. I think with mandatory polygraph and possibly cameras we can achieve the same thing and I would argue with a thoughtful line of questioning you might do one better.


The Canadian Border...… People whine when we took it away they whine when we put it back in. True to my word in 2015 I always wanted the tournament to remain wide open. I don't like grid tourneys and its always more fun when your wondering what your opponent is up to. The main reason we did away with the open border was the lack of a resolution on entry and reentry as well as possible problems with observer assignments and licensing. It can all be at your own risk when it is your team alone representing you. Fast boats slow boats big boats small boats, each one has its own distinct advantage or disadvantage. The rules of this tournament do not and will ever benefit any boat class. Weather is what defines all,where you go and even where the fish migrate to. With the tourney a week later the past few years the fish have been well over the border.  Most boats have made a right turn out of the piers and we have the drone footage to prove it. 


8 rods...….why not 


What made the tournament great at its inception was the competitive nature and participation. The fishing was one component the comradery was another. The big tent, dinners, raffles, and the tournament within a tournament were all fun additions. One might argue the week before was more fun than the event itself. So what happened? Less participation, more events, less travel, less anglers, the assembly of DREAM TEAMS, increased exchange rate, and a couple of years with some lean fishing. We had plenty of fun opportunities namely a Web series, helicopter, banquets and raffles....we have tried it all and had success. At the end of it all its all about people and money how far are you willing to go? 


If you have ideas or want to get involved we would enjoy more participation in the event and or behind the scenes from an admin perspective. If you have a product or would consider sponsoring or suggesting a sponsor we are all ears. At the end of the day you are a consumer and we have a product I get it but this is run by a few and its a ton of work and a ton of time. We need ideas and positivity not overly critical posts and phone calls. Its emotional we understand but this event is forever a work in progress and one that welcomes your continued input. 



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Well said Kevin. I think there would have been a lot less negative feedback if you had made this the first post to help explain the changes. As far as Cabela’s and Bass Pro, I believe there are walleye and redfish events hosted by them so it is not out of the realm. I see photos of Johnny Morris posing with giant Alaskan Kings so he knows the species. Send him an invite on your boat. 

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Our team has fished this tournament for about the last five years and although we have never placed in the money, we have enjoyed every event, including the week leading up to the main event.  I have been competing in fishing tournaments my entire life, whether is was the LCI on Lake Champlain or as part of a bass circuit tournament series across the US, or fishing the LOC, PRO/AMs and Invitationals the last 10+ years.  The one thing I can tell you for sure is that regardless of the format you can't please everyone and if you make it all about the money you're destined to have a bad time. That said, the more boats that participate, the more sponsorship opportunities their will be and thusly the more opportunities their will be for someone to walk away with a prize. I appreciate that those running this tournament have asked for anyone who is willing to chime in to give their impression/feedback on potential rule changes and also for suggestions of what we as competitors might like to see.  It shows me that they care about the end product for everyone as a whole.


As for the proposed rule changes...I am generally not a fan of different species competing for the same prize.  I understand why coho are included with chinook but would prefer that Lake Trout did not get added to the tournament as part of the Pacific Salmon Box.  As this tournament was traditionally a Pacific Salmon Tournament, I would suggest keeping the main prize structure for the main event as such.  However, I do see the value in adding another species to the tournament, whether it be Lake Trout, Brown Trout, etc, but I would suggest that this species compete for a separate Big Fish prize for that species only.  This would allow an opportunity for a team who completely missed the mark on Kings and Coho's to still have something to fish for right up until the very last minute.  Sounds like Gambler is already willing to donate part of that prize.


As for 8 rods...I am good either way on this as some view more rods in the water as an advantage and some view more rods in the water as a disadvantage.  I have fished on 18' boats that run 8 rods with ease, so I don't see boat size as being a huge disadvantage for this rule. 


Fishing Canada...It is what it is and is fair for all.  I realize some folks may have made some choices in life that prevent them from being allowed in Canada but with the tournament being a week later I personally don't believe this is really even that big of a story line.


Accepting Canadian currency at par with the US dollar... Perhaps I am missing something here, but this doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Why would some be allowed to fish the tournament for a lesser valued entry fee than others?  Does this mean that if I wanted to take my US dollars to the bank and exchange it for Canadian currency, it would be accepted at par for this tournament as well?  If the overall cost is an issue because of they live too far away, then how is that different from anyone else who travels from Michigan or PA or further?


Observer vs No Observer... Again, I have fished an assortment of tournaments across the US and having an observer on your boat is not a rare thing. However, those observers had always been screened by the tournament committee and were very familiar with the sport.  Over the years of fishing tournaments on Ontario we have had a colorful assortment of observers, from those that have never been fishing before at all and couldn't tell you the difference between a king salmon and a large mouth bass, to others who fish every day and would instinctively run for a rod when it went off, getting in the way of those actually fishing.  We have had observers sleep the entire time, only waking long enough to record the catch, and others that couldn't handle rough water and spent the day sick.  We have had upset team members of other teams on our boat because their observer was a no show and we have had Charter Captains acting as observers for other teams who were a wealth of knowledge and shared unsolicited information about what has worked best for them over the years, whether it be specific lures, techniques, or locations.  With all of that, I do believe having any observer on board is a huge deterrent from cheating for most and I would challenge that no other avenue, that I am aware of, would do as good of a job.  However, I also believe that an unfit observer can actually be a huge disadvantage for a team.  Whether that comes in the form of the observer puking over the side of the boat while you are trying to grab a dipsey rod that just got smashed, to a negative or awkward atmosphere created through a clashing of personalities, or an observer that got drunk and is being obscene.  I do not know enough about lie detectors to comment on whether they alone are viable or not but I have fished many tournaments that state the use of them in their rules.  In the end it is unfortunate that the discussion of needing such a deterrent is even needed. 


I fish these events because they allow me to combine my love of the outdoors with my competitive nature and comradery of other great sportsmen, not to cash a check.  I wish everyone who participates in this year's event the best of luck!

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I will have to say that there has been a lot of good and welcomed feedback inc the last post from Outdoor E.  That post took some time, effort, thought and is appreciated.

You nailed a couple good points=more boats-more hype, good payouts, good for everyone inc. what sponsors like to see.  


There is discussion about a separate prize for that "odd" specie being brought to the scales for a separate weigh. 


The  "at par" entry was for one sole purpose:to attract Canadian teams to the US to compete, grow the event, and build the pot of $ to payout.  They also are spending more dollars to eat, drink, sleep, dock, etc. while here. So, it becomes unattractive to them to travel to the States to fish. Its basically costing them 30% more to play here plus travel.  Your point is valid though.  Plus everyone in that geographic area  gets a little economic boost from our CND friends coming here.  US teams upon registration will be unable to attempt to register as a CND team to save $. If they lie on there reg. form they will be warned or possibly be disqualified.  **If 10 more CND enter, there's at least $7,000 more to payout. If CND teams beat the US teams, there's a bigger carrot for them (agree).  But US teams will also have  a larger payout due to increased attendance.  Paying CND teams at par also is not going to be an option, even tho it was discussed.


The tourney will do it's best to deter cheating, with lie detector tests given as well as some other items that won't be clarified in public. . Observers are still the best deterrent but as you illustrated and as history has shown, still don't guarantee of cheating or the possibility. 


fishdawg and r5dogs    short sweet replies= also all good.


Thank you all for posting



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