The Chautauqua Clash on July 11 was held and got off to a fine start, with mostly cloudy skies. We appreciate all of the teams that fished with us and look forward to seeing you all again soon. In our 9-year run, we’ve encountered an event or two where it’s rained, but this is the FIRST event that we’ve had weather become a factor at the conclusion of the tournament.
The weather took a turn towards “Holy $%!#” for about 90 minutes starting around 1:00pm. THANK YOU ALL for making it back safely. We were hanging on in a small cut ourselves, within sight of Long Point State Park for 30 minutes with a few small tree branches joining us in the boat.
That being said, we crossed several new bridges at this event, and this post is going to touch on several important points that came to light.
1) Please NOTIFY TOURNAMENT OFFICIALS if you decide to trailer your boat and leave the event prior to the 3:00p end time. It is crucial that we keep track of EVERYONE and every team, both for weigh-in purposes and also for the peace of mind of the other competitors.
This is a fishing circuit that – because we all become friends (and hang out together in many cases) – we look out for each other. To be blatantly honest, that is one of the coolest things about our anglers is seeing the camaraderie and smiles off the water that happens.
2) The Better Half Tour tournament has a FIVE FISH LIMIT. Per our tournament registration form:
> 8. A five(5) fish limit will be observed, sixth(6) fish must be culled immediately. NO culling at check-in. Teams with more than five(5) fish will be disqualified.
This rule did lead to a team being disqualified for having too many fish at weigh-in.
AT ANY TIME, you may only possess FIVE FISH in the livewell of your boat. Tournament officials may enter your boat upon request to verify five(5) or fewer fish. A sixth fish in possession will lead to immediate disqualification from that event. NO exceptions.
This will be added to Rule 8: NO culling of dead fish.
3) Tournament check-in time is 3:00p. Per our tournament registration form:
> 15. All boats must check in on time with the check-in official. Check-in official will keep the official time. Teams reporting late will receive a one-pound (1#) penalty per minute late and are disqualified after five(5) minutes. Teams not catching fish must still report to the check-in official or tournament director.
Two teams were caught in the southern end of Chautauqua Lake and unable to make it back by 3:00p, leading to disqualification. Being at the mercy of the weather ourselves for 30 minutes, I completely understand their situation and believe that they made the correct decision to put their safety first.
However, upon doing some research on contingencies for such situations… I found none. To be fair to everyone, the 3:00pm check-in time must be adhered to, regardless of weather conditions.
Folks, above all this is a friendly fishing tournament. We do not charge any exorbitant membership or entry fees, nor do we have top-heavy payouts for the top tournament finishers. The method to our madness is simply to bring you all together through the wonderful sport of fishing and to pay back awards as much as possible throughout the field.
It tears my heart out to have to disqualify anyone, but we’ve got to make decisions according to the rules specified.
Please check the weather and be aware of what to expect – especially on tournament fishing days. Get a weather app on your mobile phone and reference it throughout the day if conditions are changing. If you know the weather or wind will be a factor in your fishing location(s), plan accordingly.
By the way, this may be a nugget of knowledge for the future, but after speaking with two anglers (not a huge test group, I know), you should expect changing and potentially hazardous weather any time the wind shifts from a mainly south wind to a north wind. This is what happened at Chautauqua Lake on July 11 between about 11:30a-1:00p – the wind changed 180-degrees within that 60-90 minutes and the bad weather arrived.
The following rule amendments will be added to the registration form:
> In the event of an emergency situation, competitors should call 911 first (if necessary) and then notify tournament officials as soon as possible. Competitors are allowed to leave the boat and seek shelter in bad weather where danger may be imminent.
> Boat must remain in tournament in tournament waters during tournament days. Competitors must leave from and return to official checkpoints by boat. Towing boats on trailers during tournament hours is prohibited, except by direction of tournament officials.
4) Maria is the OFFICIAL time keeper, and the call to “Close the Scales” rests exclusively with her. She is the contact person (330-289-1001) during the day for any questions that arise, or should you need to leave the tournament early.
As we proceed into the future and more teams join us, the rules and registration form that we’ve put in place will allow everyone to compete equally and fairly, while avoiding any misunderstandings.
God Bless ALL of you, and we’ll see you at the Weekend Getaway on July 25!
See you on the water!
Erich & Maria, Tournament Directors