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Author Topic: Michigan's Decreasing Major Weekend Tournament Draws - Can it be stopped???  (Read 12631 times)

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ROI Outdoors

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I just wanted to get some feedback as to what you think has almost eliminated the Major Weekend Tournament Series from existence in the state of Michigan.  What I mean by major is 100+ Series events like the Red Man or Tri-State.  BASS won't touch our state and the BFL/Strens can't quite figure out their demographics when it relates to the geography of Michigan.  This is perplexing seeing as we have the most diverse fishing opportunites in the country with the biggest waters in the world so what would it take to get a major MICHIGAN series going in 2011?  I'm might be overzealous but it is depressing talking to guys who got to fish those big circuits back in the day and even more depressing talking to my boy down in Texas about their payouts, draws, and overall attitudes of anglers down there.  I understand Texas is beast and they can fish 3 times as long as we can an conditions are much different but they don't have the biggest freshwater lakes in the world surrounding them loaded with both species.  How can we stop the whining: the economy is just so bad here, boat size giving unfair advantage, my feet are cold, there's too many gobies, blah-blah-blah?  That is a little strong but the point is we can change this whole thing into what we want it to be so why not start in 2011?  Maybe I'm a minority and there aren't as many people out there that want to compete at high level and win some serious money - to be frank I think there are a lot of guys itching to see this happen but the problem is most think it isn't possible.

I want to see a tournament that draws 150 boats per event fishing a modest 4 events and fishes 2 East Side and 2 West Side events and then a Championship somewhere in the central area of the state - Detroit River, Grand River, St. Clair, Muskegon you got 2 river systems and 2 lake systems then have a Championship on like Sanford/Wixom or even Houghton Lake (that lake is terrible but its in the middle).  Just wait before you say it can't happen - now say you could have a fairly large AOY incentive - something like $5000 and a Championship that pays out over $50,000 - maybe $20-$25,000 to 1st.  Obviously it would be over 100% total payback and say maybe 90% at the ramp each of the 4 events.  Then add a couple of experienced tournament circuits and well known Directors to run the event.  Who thinks this is possible for 2011 and who thinks this is a pipe dream?
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motocross269


Until the economy gets moving forward any positive gains in recreational activities in Michigan will be tough....If I am laid off or underemployed finances for "extras" is probably going to pay critical bills....

I fished the Redman and times were alot different back then....Ford for example employed over 100,000 people in this state and GM probably twice that many....I don't need to tell you westsiders what happened to Prince, Steelcase, Detroit Deisel, Whirlpool and a host of other companies in the Grand Rapids area....

As a politician once said..."It's the economy"

If Wonderland struggles filling a field with a guaranteed 10,000 dollar payout that should tell us all something....

Hopefully things will make a turn in the next few years.....

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mikesmiph

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Luke, I constantly dream of fishing tournaments like you talk about. I would love to do it soon. I'm kinda new to the tournament sceen, so I dont have a clue what I would do to make this happen. If you, opr anyone comes up with a plan, and there is something I can do to help, let me know.
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Durand Dan


I also think the economy is one of the biggest issues; however another factor is treatment of co-anglers. I used to fish some BFL's and Everstart/Sten tournaments as a co. As I drew different partners there was one consistent issue that was emphasized, which I will paraphrase, "As the Pro or Angler I own the boat and pay a larger fee so I do what I want regardless of the co-angler". This turned me off to fishing the back of the boat and I think you see a lot of tournaments not being able to supply co-anglers. Just one person’s opinion.
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motocross269


I also think the economy is one of the biggest issues; however another factor is treatment of co-anglers. I used to fish some BFL's and Everstart/Sten tournaments as a co. As I drew different partners there was one consistent issue that was emphasized, which I will paraphrase, "As the Pro or Angler I own the boat and pay a larger fee so I do what I want regardless of the co-angler". This turned me off to fishing the back of the boat and I think you see a lot of tournaments not being able to supply co-anglers. Just one person’s opinion.

I have probably been lucky but I would say pretty close to 90 percent of my Co angling experiences have been positive....I can only think of 1 or 2 guys that made me feel like a boat anchor.....
I know that there have been a few Cos that have had issues I have just been fortunate enough not to be one of them....
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oldjigger


I think it could be done again.  I also think it would be done as a team event vrs. an angler/co-angler event. 
  I agree that the economy is hurting us but I think the biggest reason for big tournaments (150 boat fields) is that there are just too many tournaments out there.
   It has gotten so bad that I know of clubs that only carried 12 to 15 teams.  There are winners and losers in every events and I continue to find new clubs starting up that were less skilled or just not lucky enough to draw checks then start a club among themselves so thye can be winners.  Big tournaments need to pay at least 1/4.  If some people never cash a check in the year or two they quit coming.  In order to have big payouts we need more participation.

just my $.02 worth
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SethV

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We just don't have enough bass fishermen in Michigan to support the number of tx trails.  Rather than try to start a new circuit, pick the biggest one out there and fish it.

When I lived in Oklahoma I fished the Skeeter tour - each event was 120% payback, 1 in 4 places and we usually had 300 - 400 boats per event.  You could fish year round in events like this.  Triton, Charger, Heartland, Skeeter, BFL, ect - plenty of big events due to the high number of fishermen.

I would love to see a 300 boat, 120% payback, 1 in 4 places, event in Michigan.  But, I doubt it could ever happen here.

Seth
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River Rat


How can we stop the whining: the economy is just so bad here......................

Are you serious?!  I live in a nice but total blue collar neighborhood that was very dependent (an understatement) on the auto industry and have to drive by too dang many houses with the big orange sticker on the door and a HUD sign in the front yard!!!  I see people fishing along the river banks more for food than fun during the summer.  People have more pressing priorities than tournaments when they lose their jobs and homes...  Sorry if I sound harsh but you cannot be so dismissive to such a huge problem.

Scott
« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 01:39:48 PM by River Rat »
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  I agree that the economy is hurting us but I think the biggest reason for big tournaments (150 boat fields) is that there are just too many tournaments out there.
   It has gotten so bad that I know of clubs that only carried 12 to 15 teams.  There are winners and losers in every events and I continue to find new clubs starting up that were less skilled or just not lucky enough to draw checks then start a club among themselves so thye can be winners.

 I think oldjigger is correct in this. The economy is a part in this but look back oh four or five years ago before the economy really took a dive. There still we rent very many big tournaments out there, all its gotten is worse over the last few years. I think its from to many tournament opportunities out there. I'm not saying its wrong that we have so many I'm just saying is cutting down the numbers fishing each event. Back in the Tri State days there wasn't any thing else out there other than the bfl/redman which also drew well. Now adays there are tons of tournaments everyday. Lots and Lots of different clubs, organizations, friendly get togethers. Its from everyone thinking that they can do it better, in some instenses they are correct in others not so much. This trend has been going on for years and from what I read on this and other boards its going to go on for a long time. To many people want different things and want to fish different waters. Down south they only have a handful of lakes to fish, up here we have unlimited lakes which just ads to the equation. I think its going to be hard to get the big numbers that we have seen in the past even if the economy turns around.
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TCook


   It sure seems like there are enough fishermen in Michigan. Like mentioned before there are TOO MANY TOURNAMENT TRAILS IN MICHIGAN and this seems to be increasing each year! Any tournament fisherman who wants the big tournaments with high payouts should stop supporting and spending there time and money on these small dinky trails. Maybe its time everyone gets together to make this happen, its the only way to change this trend. If the biggest game in Michigan was created (like in the past with Redman)with a couple events on the west and east I find it hard to believe that anyone who seriously fishes tournaments would not fish it.
   The BFLs are the biggest today but only draws 75-100 boats and is a smallie tour. That's not going to ever be what we want it to be atleast until they split the tournaments evenly on each side of the state to draw interest from both sides and actually showcase the best overall fishermen from the state. The perfect Michigan circuit in my opinion would be a trail spread out evenly like Burt @ Mullet, St Clair, Detroit River, Muskegon, Grand River with 150-200 boat field that pays back atleast 90% to 1 in every 4 anglers. I think its possible that is if we ever decide to put our voices together and stop wasting time on the endless amount of dinky trails out there.

T
« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 01:57:54 PM by TCook »
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oldjigger


Amen, I agree with Mr Cook.  If the Bfl wanted to turn things around and get bigger they need to do it.  I always hear well maybe next year.  smallie fisherman want to fish east side, don't want to drive, all the excuses in the world.
  Mr Cook's result would be a Michigan fisherman not just a Erie / ST Clair smallie fisherman
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VinceR


Okay, there will be those who will disagree with me, but to me the answer is simple (and pretty obvious).

There are just too many choices. Want proof? Take a look at the NBAA tournament schedule. Now take a look at Avid Anglers. How about Lake Drive? Go to Roy Randolph's tournament page and look at any weekend after the season opens. And, those are just the ones that bother to submit their schedule to Roy.

Want to fish a tournament on Saturday at lake St. Clair? Just pull into Harley Ensign. There will likely be, at least, two going out. Don't like what you see there? Head over to the Hall Rd launch. There should be another going out, there. West side? You can probably just head to Gull or Gun. Maybe Muskegon or White Lakes. Try the Grand River.

In the Tri-State, Redman, BASS Federation, U.S. Bass heyday, there were weekends where there were no tournaments, anywhere (at least not close by). On the weekends where one of these had a tournament scheduled, you might have to forego your club tournament, but that was usually the only choice that you had to make.

Then, there were Westsiders fishing the east side tournaments, and Eastsiders fishing the west side tournaments. All of the bigger circuits were fishing both sides of the state.

In between the tournaments, you could actually spend a weekend (or two) pre-fishing.

There was a year in there where I fished the Federation, Tri-State, and my club tournaments, and qualified for the classics in all three. Some of the waters (in all three) were water that I had never fished. Qualifying was NOT a testament to my abilities, it was more a testament to the fact that I had time to pre-fish between tournaments. There was nothing else happening. Believe it, or not, there were many days (weekends) where I would pull into Harley Ensign, and the only bass boats there were doing the same thing that I was...pre-fishing.

Angler's Choice was where I first started to notice a drop in participation. There were a couple of other new organizations starting up, and some of the anglers were pulling out to (maybe) fish a lake that appealed to them, a little more. I think that was where we started to see anglers choosing to fish more regionally. I know that I started fishing the east side more, and I live smack in the middle (Lansing area).

I think that maybe Tri-State was starting to expand, and price itself into lower participation, too. It added the 90 and Under Series, then the Go For the Gold, then they started the sponsor bonus entry deal. This was where your sponsor (or you, if you were not sponsored) could match the entry fee, paying into a pot that just payed back to those who paid into the sponsor pot. This created a larger payback for those that participated.

Between this, and the GFG (with it's higher entry fees), it was starting to become more expensive. Anglers were starting to have to make a decision, fish one, or the other. The result, fewer anglers fishing both. Couple that with the addition of the 90 and under, fewer angler, yet.

The tournaments that seem to draw the best, now, are those offering the best return at the ramp. Wonderland is consistently drawing over 100 boats. The NBAA Detroit River Open (when 1st is guaranteed) draws 100 boats. The NBAA Top 250 (used to be Top 300) has drawn over 100 boats. All have one thing in common, guaranteed BIG 1st place payouts, particularly when it's money.

Another thing that they all have in common is scheduling. The Detroit River Open is typically held the weekend of the Michigan water St. Clair opener. The NBAA Top 250/300 was held in October (there was no Top tournament, this year) The Wonderland Open is an established icon that anglers, statewide, look forward to. It's scheduled around the same time, each year, and local organizers schedule around it.

I've said it before (on another site), and I'll mention it again, here. I think that what needs to be done is to establish a coalition of tournament organizers/directors. Sit down together and look at the tournament situation in this state.

Take a look at any inland lake that has a fairly healthy population of bass. I will bet that there are at least two 3 hr. tournaments a week being held there. Plus, there's probably going to be a 6 or 8 hr. tournament there on the weekends.

Scheduling, location, entry fees, payback should be looked at. It may very well be that it is now time to make the tough decisions. You may seriously need to look at scaling back on the weekend tournaments. At least to where you don't have three  tournaments going out of the same launch, vying for the same anglers. Other than those mentioned above, nobody is drawing significant numbers. I mean, who wants to pay $100-$150 to fish a twenty boat tournament? Despite all of the feedback concerning percentages, I don't think that anglers mind a circuit paying back back 80-85%, as long as it's 80-85% of a substantial amount.

I'm not discounting the effect that the economy has played into all of this, either. It's getting expensive to fish, especially considering travel and tournament expenses. Then, you drive 100 miles, get to the ramp, plunk down your $150.00, and you and nineteen other boats head out.

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VinceR


Oops. I didn't mean to sound redundant. By the time I finished composing my soapbox diatribe, seven other responses had been posted.

oldjigger hit the nail on the head.
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TCook


Eric you missed the entire point of my post and this thread. There was no intention to find the best fishermen in MI even though it would be a byproduct of a 200 boat trail with a diverse schedule. The message and point of this thread is how do we get back to the few tournament trails that draw big numbers and big paydays like in the past and about every other state in this country has currently. You are all about competition and payouts that justify the expenses, it seems like you would be all about this.
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i think its too many options - both in tournaments and bodies of water. You can have 50 different weekend circuits running on the same weekend in the greater west michigan area alone because there are just that many lakes. Indiana ( with the exception of the NE portion that is geologically the same as michigan) there are only a handful full of places that support a decent sized tournament.  The ones i fished down there would routinely travel 2hrs to indy or ft wayne area for at least 3 out of 5 tournaments because that is the only sizeable water. Drawing 50+ boats isn't that hard when there's no where else to go.

You'll never get a coalition of big tournament directors because they all run a circuit the way thy think it should be done and they are all a bit different. Half of them do it because they completely despise how a competitor runs theirs. Same is the rationale of many anglers for why they fish what they do. Because of this you have these rifts where guys from one circuit wouldn't even consider the other based on sheer principal. 

I hear it all the time - guys that hate BBT, Shoreline, Nbaa whatever - but if something new comes along they hate that too. Seems like lake drive has been the only exception to this - and that still hasn't gotten the turnout one would expect for all the good publicity i've heard.

We basically need a giant reset which never will happen. Too many allegiances to old ideas, old friends and bad information.
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I would have to say that Lake Drive is the only circuit doing it right around the state. They have two divisions this year which only consist of three events, a low number that do not cause a ton of conflicts from running numerous tournaments that conflict with other tournaments put on by the same organization. Also, they've had a full field for years and my partner was trying to get in for 4-5 years before he finally got us in last year so the turnout is what every organization should strive for. My opinion is there are just too many tournaments filled with anglers who would rather fill the pockets of owners paying back only 60-70% cash pay out and saying they pay back 90-100% to draw boats. For example, BBT brings in over $10,000 a year, if you do the math, to run their team trail of 5 tournaments and they say their pay back is something like 9-100% counting hats for $20 a pop towards that pay back(who cares about a free hat after paying $100 to fish?) I think bottom line is if you really want to fish 200-300 boat tournaments you better go to Kentucky Lake or Texas and fish the Bass Champs because we have too much water here, I am headed to Falcon over spring break and hope to find a large tournament on either Choke or Falcon to get my fill.
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TCook


For example, BBT brings in over $10,000 a year, if you do the math, to run their team trail of 5 tournaments and they say their pay back is something like 9-100% counting hats for $20 a pop towards that pay back(who cares about a free hat after paying $100 to fish?)

Here is the math for BBT...

 BBT payback at White lake 2009:

78 boats at $100 = $7800
$ payed back at the ramp = $4930
$7800/$4930 = 63%

So Russ is keeping 17% if 20% is payed at the classic.
17% of $7800 =$1326
$1326 x 5 tournaments = $6630 he keeps a year


Oh and don't forget the membership fee with 107 boats by $40 = $4280

$6630 + $4280 = $10,910 BBT keeps

   Almost $11,000 to run 6 tournaments that's alot of $ to put in there pocket. How many other trails out there are doing the same? I wonder if the 60-70 teams that fish BBT would see the light and fish a larger circuit paying back a true 85-90% that had half of the tournaments over there?  The numbers would be there if you could get anglers from both sides of the state interested in fishing the entire circuit. Only way i can see that is by splitting the schedule and a championship with a big payout. Maybe its a pipe dream but it would be ideal  to have the Michigan tournament scene come together instead of being scattered like it has been since I have been in the sport.
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I would have to say that Lake Drive is the only circuit doing it right around the state. They have two divisions this year which only consist of three events, a low number that do not cause a ton of conflicts from running numerous tournaments that conflict with other tournaments put on by the same organization. Also, they've had a full field for years and my partner was trying to get in for 4-5 years before he finally got us in last year so the turnout is what every organization should strive for. My opinion is there are just too many tournaments filled with anglers who would rather fill the pockets of owners paying back only 60-70% cash pay out and saying they pay back 90-100% to draw boats. For example, BBT brings in over $10,000 a year, if you do the math, to run their team trail of 5 tournaments and they say their pay back is something like 9-100% counting hats for $20 a pop towards that pay back(who cares about a free hat after paying $100 to fish?) I think bottom line is if you really want to fish 200-300 boat tournaments you better go to Kentucky Lake or Texas and fish the Bass Champs because we have too much water here, I am headed to Falcon over spring break and hope to find a large tournament on either Choke or Falcon to get my fill.

This post had almost no relevance to the topic. We all know the numbers for most of the tournament circuits around so why bring them up and make this about who pays what. To contradict the above post BBT has drawn the most boats consistently since the Tri State Days. So they must be doing something right dont you think. And a hat is better than a kick in the pants. A full field for lake drive is 75 boats, bbt has always drawn more than that on an average. With lake drive going north this year I think its just going to hurt everyone because its just another circuit in an already saturated tournament scene. Less tournaments bigger numbers, more tournaments less numbers. And from what I hear lake drive didnt even get 50 pre signed up at their early draw. That right there shows you that there are to many tournaments.
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bigjc


You guys are all missing one big piece of this puzzel.  $$$$  Any successful trail is backed by someone one with some cash, who has a financial interest in our sport.  A good trail is either backed by a major boat line or a good sized dealership, or some combination thereof.  It takes money to put on an event of 100 + boats.

An event of 150 boats or more, is going to require several non-competing tournament staff.  Odds are these guys are not just donating their time.  If you have an extravegant tournament set up, you might have in excess of $10K in equipment (trailer, stage, scales, tubs, etc.).  How about an insurance policy? So, running a large trail requires big money, and entry fees alone are not going to fund such a trail/event. 
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SethV

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This is an example of what I WISH we had here in Michigan:

http://tritonnichols.com/PAYOUTS.html

I don't care if it is east or west side, big water or inland - I would fish it.

Seth
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