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Ludington Offshore Classic Update


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Salmon tourney turmoil settled

Manistee bans Best Chance, Ludington drafts new rule

Brian Mulherin - Daily News Staff Writer

Monday, October 11, 2010

Salmon tourney turmoil settled

Manistee bans Best Chance, Ludington drafts new rule


Daily News Staff Writer

It’s a good bet that Saugatuck-based charter boat Best Chance Too won’t be sighted at fishing tournaments near Big Point Sable in 2011.

The organizers of the Manistee Salmon Splash and 333 said they will refuse any entries from Best Chance Too in 2011, while the Ludington Offshore Classic Tournament Committee and Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce have drafted a rule allowing them to refuse entry to anyone. The captains of Best Chance Too have indicated to tournament organizers they will not fish the Ludington event next year.

Best Chance Too was allowed to withdraw from the 2010 Ludington Offshore Classic after protests followed their apparent victory in the pro division of the tournament. Witnesses alleged the crew of the boat was aggressive in handling smaller fish, with the apparent intention of bettering their catch in the salmon tournament decided by weight.

“There was some guys on another boat who thought we were being over-aggressive landing fish,†Best Chance Too Co-Captain Dave Engel said after the event. “They questioned our observer and he said we probably were on a few, they questioned that we didn’t get the net fast enough on some little fish. It was a ‘he said, she said, they said’ kind of thing and it kind of seemed to us like it was a done deal. We said ‘if you guys don’t think we did it right, we’ll just withdraw from the tournament.’â€

Tournament rules at the time stated “Any intentional act, such as, but not limited to, shaking off, breaking off, burning off, etc. fish will subject team to disqualification.â€

Whether that rule still exists is unknown, as the rules have been taken off of the Offshore Classic website and replaced with the following:

“Following a review of the 2010 Ludington Offshore Classic Tournament, the Ludington Offshore Classic Tournament Committee (“Committeeâ€) has proposed, and the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce (“Chamberâ€) Board of Directors has adopted the following rule, which will pertain to all future tournament entries:

“The Tournament Committee reserves the right to decline entry or participation by any person, team or boat as deemed necessary to ensure such things as integrity, image, reputation, financial performance and community relationship with sponsors, participants and supporting groups.

“A formal review of the tournament rules is under way and all rules for the 2011 tournament will be posted following their adoption.â€

Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Maclean said she does not expect Best Chance Too to enter next year’s event.

“They have indicated they will not be returning to our tournament,†Maclean said.

“I hope that we can move on and begin planning for 2011.â€

Calls to Engel and co-captain Bill Bale were not returned.

Scott MacDonald, who runs the 333 and the Salmon Splash with his father, Fred, said they organized a meeting in Holland this week to talk about the incident at the Ludington tournament, but the meeting was sidetracked before it began.

“It was attempted to be organized by us,†MacDonald said. “The purpose of the meeting was to review what happened at the Ludington Tournament and review what our findings are and pass them along to the members of our tournament trail — the 333 member tournaments.â€

The 333 is a tournament within a tournament conducted in almost every port with a major salmon tournament on Lake Michigan. Participants can weigh three fish at a given tournament and the heaviest win, although there are also prizes that count standings throughout the season and prizes at each event for the largest of an individual species of fish.

“That was our only goal was to state what we found out and to share what our plans were and to tell them how we were going to handle it,†MacDonald said. “If any of the tournaments wanted to follow suit, they were welcome to.â€

MacDonald said he and his father attempted to talk about the Ludington incident at the meeting but were never allowed to.

“There certainly was two sides at that meeting, which I guess wasn’t surprising to me,†MacDonald said. “I was a little disappointed with how the meeting went. Not the outcome, but there were people who came to that meeting who I really don’t think had a reason to be there, they really came to disrupt the proceedings.â€

Committee of tournaments

MacDonald said the tournament representatives there did agree in principle to attempt to form a committee of tournaments that would rule on incidents and each tournament would agree to abide by the findings.

“As far as uniformity in the rules, the meeting came around to that eventually,†MacDonald said. He said the hope is that if the tournaments can’t agree on rules they can at least agree on procedures for protests.

“I believe the ball is rolling,†MacDonald said. “John Watson, the tournament director of the Saugatuck tournament, volunteered to chair a committee that would consist of one member of every tournament committee and one alternate to try to come up with a set of uniform rules that all the tournaments can agree on. I think the main intent is to come up with rules on how protests will be handled.

“My understanding was to be involved in the committee you have to commit to it that the tournaments would stand as one if an incident like this were to happen again.â€

Regardless of how the individual tournaments move forward, MacDonald said the course for 2011 is set for the 333 and the Manistee Salmon Splash.

“We’re going to decline any entries from Best Chance in the 2011 season,†MacDonald said.

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