Fishing tournaments bring out the worst in some people

July 2, 2011 

    Once upon a time, I enjoyed competitive fishing -- and I still do when it brings about positive effects.

    During the last decade, many tournaments have gained support because the nature of the event. Tournaments that bolster the economy or support a special cause have my endorsement.

    I have a problem when an individual's competitive nature or the event itself is one that seems to override common sense and etiquette. Large money events have a tendency to bring out that 10 percent of folks so often referred as the bad apples.

    Bystanders at docks and weigh stations often witness the negative aspects of tournament fishing from returning anglers. The sheer number of fish weighed-in can mark tournaments negatively. And the actions by a few tend to cause guilt by association. Ninety percent of tournament anglers are good, decent people who mean no harm. The majority are average anglers who either qualified through hard work and expense, entered to add support or perhaps enjoy some of the purse.

    I don't wish to stereotype tournaments, because these conditions are not confined solely to such events. These encounters seem to be a commodity shared frequently when crowds gather. Overall, I think tournaments bring a sense of civic pride and unify many in the community. There is nothing wrong with getting excited or succeeding at something you are passionate about. There is a good bit of enjoyment in the preparation, as well as the success.

    But the few can spoil it for the majority.

    Am I somewhat conflicted about my feelings on tournament fishing? Perhaps. I like fishing them. But I have disdain for those who take what is a fairly pure experience and turn it inside out to paint all participants in a bad light.

    Tournament anglers need to remember what they are representing. Every participant should realize that just by entering the event you have placed yourself in an elevated position in the public eye, and you now represent your sport.

    The good apples have to be extra good to offset the few bad ones. Avoid confrontations with others at the dock, landings and on the water. Give a wide berth to anglers who may not be on the same competitive edge. And refrain from putting yourself in a position where you would have to explain your actions.

    No event, committee member or tournament director can undo negative attitudes or publicity, regardless of the cause. Treat the event with professionalism and the positive will outweigh the negative every time.

    SPEAKING OF TOURNAMENTS ...

    The inaugural American Wounded Veterans King Mackerel Fishing Tournament is set for July 8-9, and its organizer, captain Nick Russell of Port Royal, has designed the Independence Fund and Lt. Dan Weekend as the beneficiaries of all proceeds form the event. The tournament offers the perfect opportunity for both local sport fisherman and out-of-town visitors to participate and support some injured veterans.

    "They fought for us, let's fish for them," said Russell, a professional sportsman, Marine veteran and exuberant supporter of the troops.

    Russell came up with the idea for a tournament last year after serving as a volunteer during the Lt. Dan Weekend.

    Russell says the payout for the tournament will be $30,000 -- the biggest payout to date for this type of tournament in South Carolina. There will be multiple weigh-in points along the coast

    Lt. Dan Weekend 2 is scheduled to take place from September 14-18 and will be centered around more than 100 injured veterans and caregivers who will descend upon the Lowcountry for four days of events and activities designed to foster their healing and provide the opportunity for a grateful community to express its thanks.

    The highlight of the event will again be a concert performed by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band in Beaufort's Waterfront Park. Tickets are available at www.ldw2.com, along with more details on the tournament.

    "Gary obviously liked what he saw take place last year or he would not be coming back," Russell said. "It's an experience you will never forget."

    For information contact Russell at 814-9697 or the Independence Fund at 434-409-0506.

    AND ONE MORE ...

    The Fripp Island Fireworks Fishing Tournament will get under way Friday with registration, a captains meeting and a Lowcountry cookout at 7 p.m. at Fripp Island Marina. The fishing starts at 6 a.m. Saturday and weigh-ins close at 6 p.m. Awards will go to first and second place for the largest king mackerel, dolphin, wahoo and Spanish mackerel.

    For information, call 838-1518.

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