High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

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WB Staff
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High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby WB Staff » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:56 pm

ClearLakeCA.jpg


Tourneys are lifeblood of Clear Lake fishing
High participation cost turning fishermen away

Bass tournaments are the lifeblood of fishing activity on Clear Lake. Without them the fishing industry would basically dry up.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife (DWF) regulates bass tournaments and issues permits to the organizations conducting the tournaments. Bass clubs are issued an annual permit and they are valid for a year. Tournament organizations are issued what is called an event permit, which is only good for one particular tournament. Twenty years ago it was not unusual for the DFW to issue more than 60 event permits per year at Clear Lake. In other words, there was a tournament held on the lake just about every weekend.

That has all changed nowadays as tournament participation has dramatically declined. For 2020, the DFW has issued 35 event permits for Clear Lake and 14 club annual permits. In comparison, the DFW issued 37 event tournaments and 48 annual permits for 2019 for tournaments held in the Delta.

Bass tournament participation has declined considerably. Years ago it wasn’t uncommon to have 80-100 boats, and sometimes even 200 boats, in a tournament. For example, the old Record-Bee/ Bruno’s team tournament drew 225 boats in its heyday and the field filled up six months prior to the tournament. Now a tournament is lucky to have 40-50 boats. Some even have fewer than 20. In fact, earlier this year a popular tournament drew only five boats.


There are a number of reasons that tournament participation has fallen off. One is...

Read it all at Record Bee: https://www.record-bee.com/2019/10/01/t ... e-fishing/

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby BigBassDaddy1190 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:29 pm

I wonder who this “popular tournament” was?

I think the decreased participation from anglers could also be attributed to the quality of the events being put on nowadays.

ACP
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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby ACP » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:49 pm

Back in the day the there were a lot of prize boats given away for a reasonable entry fee for the Draw & Pro-Am tournaments but now your paying over $800+ to fish as a Pro with the possability of winning $20,000 if enough guys enter & you're able to cash in on all the contingencies. Won Bass has done a great job with the US Open but I remember back in the day when the gave a boat away everyday of the event for big bass.

When it comes to most team tournaments there's no of limits for prefish so the guys that work really don't want to fish against guys that have been on the water right up till the day of the tournament also they allow to many team to the championship, they should take the top 5 teams from each divison as these are the teams that really earned it.

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby ash » Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:41 am

ACP wrote:Back in the day the there were a lot of prize boats given away for a reasonable entry fee for the Draw & Pro-Am tournaments but now your paying over $800+ to fish as a Pro with the possability of winning $20,000 if enough guys enter & you're able to cash in on all the contingencies. Won Bass has done a great job with the US Open but I remember back in the day when the gave a boat away everyday of the event for big bass.

When it comes to most team tournaments there's no of limits for prefish so the guys that work really don't want to fish against guys that have been on the water right up till the day of the tournament also they allow to many team to the championship, they should take the top 5 teams from each divison as these are the teams that really earned it.


This is the great thing about Best Bass Tournaments, it's setup to allow tournament anglers to have the full tournament experience without breaking the bank. The focus is on having fun at the events, being competitive and having the opportunity to bring home some cold hard cash. Companies like Berkeley Cast for Cash, Bass Cat Boat Quest program offer cash incentives back to anglers that participate in these programs. There are a lot more options today then back in the day and one can choose to support a growing organization like the BBT.

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby ACP » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:12 pm

ash wrote:
ACP wrote:Back in the day the there were a lot of prize boats given away for a reasonable entry fee for the Draw & Pro-Am tournaments but now your paying over $800+ to fish as a Pro with the possability of winning $20,000 if enough guys enter & you're able to cash in on all the contingencies. Won Bass has done a great job with the US Open but I remember back in the day when the gave a boat away everyday of the event for big bass.

When it comes to most team tournaments there's no of limits for prefish so the guys that work really don't want to fish against guys that have been on the water right up till the day of the tournament also they allow to many team to the championship, they should take the top 5 teams from each divison as these are the teams that really earned it.


This is the great thing about Best Bass Tournaments, it's setup to allow tournament anglers to have the full tournament experience without breaking the bank. The focus is on having fun at the events, being competitive and having the opportunity to bring home some cold hard cash. Companies like Berkeley Cast for Cash, Bass Cat Boat Quest program offer cash incentives back to anglers that participate in these programs. There are a lot more options today then back in the day and one can choose to support a growing organization like the BBT.


Those are just my opinions on why tournament particapation is down from years past. I know the BBT & most other circuits run great events & there is no perfect circuit out there, pick what works for you & fish them. Since you brought up the BBT & I see you must work with them since you have their web address listed in your signature I'll give you the three biggest issues I see with the circuit.

1) No off limits = Not an even playing field for the working man that works M-F. I would be willing to bet that you put an offlimits period from the Monday before the tournament until the tournament day. You would draw more anglers & more anglers from outside that region.

2) The elimation of anglers that do well in the Pro-Am events eliminate a lot of anglers. Heck everyone's a Pro in California if they want to pay the entry fee.

3) According to the BBT rules you don't even have to catch a fish all year & you can qualify for the TOC.

Just my $.02

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby ash » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:11 am

Thanks ACP BBT is always looking for feedback from the Anglers and the BBT has a steering committee that meets annually to review suggestions and make any changes that may be necessary.

There have been a lot of changes in the tournament and bass fishing world over the last decade look at how youth angler programs have jumped up, kayak events, college events and MLF flipping it on its head. To compare today's tournament scene to that of yesteryear is a mistake as that market doesn't exist today. The OP post was that High costs are turning away fisherman and for that BBT fits nicely in giving Anglers an all in cost of 120.00 per team and providing a fun, fair and professionally ran event.

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby scottsweet » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:19 am

I agree it is the cost, but it also other things too. As a combination, it is having an overall affect on the participation.

I am newer to the Bay Area and still learning all these great waters up here. I only had time to fish one team circuit this year, to remain unnamed, that was a horrible experience. I have not only been fishing in tournaments since the early 2000s, but ran many events myself and the disorganization and lack of communication was astounding given they had been around for many years. We never launched once at safe light in all of the tournaments we fished...in fact, we launched 90 minutes after safe light in one event. I saw multiple people running at 40-50mph on the water without life jackets. No announcements were made on where the weigh ins would be and it was just "assumed" you knew. The launch location was a toss up half the time and you had to call the TD to find out. If I was a newbee and didn't know any different, I would just think this is the way it is - not knowing how bad it really was.

The inspection by the angler on the organization's payouts from a few years back forced many decisions too. Organizations used to be able to lean on sponsors to offset the costs of running a tournament business (yes it is a business)...those days have long gone. There is simply not the same money to "get a new angler" as there used to be. Company sponsors are not putting in the money (in the form of prizes or hard cash) as they used to. The newer anglers think running a tournament circuit is cheap and easy...it isn't. I know, I did it for nearly 10 years. The push to maximize the payouts and the lack of sponsorship funds has affected the bottom line...the payouts.

As mentioned, the off-limits, or the lack thereof, has turned away many anglers in the larger pay-in events. Having to compete as a weekend warrior with someone who has been on the water all week is really tough. The only circuit who seems to have grown, has good payouts and has the participation numbers is the one circuit who has real off-limits...Wild West Bass Trail. They are still young, but definitely going the right direction. The off-limits naturally levels out the playing field and the "locals" don't always win like they used to in the past.

The expectation of the competitive angler has changed too. When I started competing, it was already past the "hay day" so to speak. I always heard about the great tournaments with 200+ boats and the massive payouts with boats and all. Anglers were friends, helped each other and respected each other, along with their water. Fortunately we have FLW who has kept professionalism at its peak and taught people how to compete with respect and professionalism. However they have been hard pressed to get the younger anglers to fill the gap as the older anglers retired. Their High School and College fishing events gave the new young ones the opportunity to see what a real "professional" competitive event can be, along with the pomp and circumstance of the big stage, presentations, etc. with the hope to create the motivation to move up in the sport. But most of the newbees never get to see this and are only able to fish in the smaller, less professional events where respect, rules and expectations are not well understood or respected. Many, not all, of the new anglers are highly competitive, want everything for nearly nothing, disrespectful, ignore or don't know the stated or the "unspoken" rules of both fishing and boating, want immediate gratification and don't have the patience to "earn their stripes" as many of the older anglers had to do. If the young newbee doesn't win right away...they will likely not stick with it.

Finally, there is the cost. 2008 really affected everyone! While it was over 10 years ago, the recession has affected everyone in the sport to this very day and made fishing related companies realize how vulnerable they are to the economy. No one has really recovered back to pre-2008 and business models have changed. The Konocti Resort at Clear Lake still hasn't reopened and that was a huge draw to Lake County for the general community as well as the tournament angler. Then there is the cost of tackle...which everyone knows has gone up and you still need to fill a wall or two cabinets full of the "bait you have to have to win." Not to mention CA cost of living :)...we still pay the highest fuel cost of any state in the union...thanks to our lovely governor!

So I think it is all of these things...tournament organizations and their ability to deliver a quality product, cost and payout ability of the organization, off-limits, the angler and their expectations, and cost of competing as well as doing business.

Fortunately we still have several organizations still hanging in there to give us a LOT of choices. WE as the competitive angler need to support them with your time, hard cash :), and good respect and spirits. Tell them when they are doing a good job and provide constructive ideas to improve.

My .02 LOL.
Scott Sweet

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby DDG » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:12 pm

scottsweet wrote:I agree it is the cost, but it also other things too. As a combination, it is having an overall affect on the participation.

I am newer to the Bay Area and still learning all these great waters up here. I only had time to fish one team circuit this year, to remain unnamed, that was a horrible experience. I have not only been fishing in tournaments since the early 2000s, but ran many events myself and the disorganization and lack of communication was astounding given they had been around for many years. We never launched once at safe light in all of the tournaments we fished...in fact, we launched 90 minutes after safe light in one event. I saw multiple people running at 40-50mph on the water without life jackets. No announcements were made on where the weigh ins would be and it was just "assumed" you knew. The launch location was a toss up half the time and you had to call the TD to find out. If I was a newbee and didn't know any different, I would just think this is the way it is - not knowing how bad it really was.

The inspection by the angler on the organization's payouts from a few years back forced many decisions too. Organizations used to be able to lean on sponsors to offset the costs of running a tournament business (yes it is a business)...those days have long gone. There is simply not the same money to "get a new angler" as there used to be. Company sponsors are not putting in the money (in the form of prizes or hard cash) as they used to. The newer anglers think running a tournament circuit is cheap and easy...it isn't. I know, I did it for nearly 10 years. The push to maximize the payouts and the lack of sponsorship funds has affected the bottom line...the payouts.

As mentioned, the off-limits, or the lack thereof, has turned away many anglers in the larger pay-in events. Having to compete as a weekend warrior with someone who has been on the water all week is really tough. The only circuit who seems to have grown, has good payouts and has the participation numbers is the one circuit who has real off-limits...Wild West Bass Trail. They are still young, but definitely going the right direction. The off-limits naturally levels out the playing field and the "locals" don't always win like they used to in the past.

The expectation of the competitive angler has changed too. When I started competing, it was already past the "hay day" so to speak. I always heard about the great tournaments with 200+ boats and the massive payouts with boats and all. Anglers were friends, helped each other and respected each other, along with their water. Fortunately we have FLW who has kept professionalism at its peak and taught people how to compete with respect and professionalism. However they have been hard pressed to get the younger anglers to fill the gap as the older anglers retired. Their High School and College fishing events gave the new young ones the opportunity to see what a real "professional" competitive event can be, along with the pomp and circumstance of the big stage, presentations, etc. with the hope to create the motivation to move up in the sport. But most of the newbees never get to see this and are only able to fish in the smaller, less professional events where respect, rules and expectations are not well understood or respected. Many, not all, of the new anglers are highly competitive, want everything for nearly nothing, disrespectful, ignore or don't know the stated or the "unspoken" rules of both fishing and boating, want immediate gratification and don't have the patience to "earn their stripes" as many of the older anglers had to do. If the young newbee doesn't win right away...they will likely not stick with it.

Finally, there is the cost. 2008 really affected everyone! While it was over 10 years ago, the recession has affected everyone in the sport to this very day and made fishing related companies realize how vulnerable they are to the economy. No one has really recovered back to pre-2008 and business models have changed. The Konocti Resort at Clear Lake still hasn't reopened and that was a huge draw to Lake County for the general community as well as the tournament angler. Then there is the cost of tackle...which everyone knows has gone up and you still need to fill a wall or two cabinets full of the "bait you have to have to win." Not to mention CA cost of living :)...we still pay the highest fuel cost of any state in the union...thanks to our lovely governor!

So I think it is all of these things...tournament organizations and their ability to deliver a quality product, cost and payout ability of the organization, off-limits, the angler and their expectations, and cost of competing as well as doing business.

Fortunately we still have several organizations still hanging in there to give us a LOT of choices. WE as the competitive angler need to support them with your time, hard cash :), and good respect and spirits. Tell them when they are doing a good job and provide constructive ideas to improve.

My .02 LOL.


Think you hit it right on the head Scott, I also think CA needs more Organization like BBT, WWBT, and WON that are larger and leading the standard in service to anglers around here.

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen aw

Postby WRB » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:27 pm

Scott ran well organized tournaments in SoCal when 100+ boats competed on our small over crowded lakes and has the know how and skill to do this. Without off limits and not everyone agreeing on exactly what the rules are only invites stretching the rules and a downward spiral.
Trailering a rig from SoCal to fish NorCal events or vice versa is difficult today with quagga mussel issues and high cost. Today's bass tournaments are like a club events with money payouts.
Tom

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen aw

Postby mark poulson » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:11 am

WRB wrote:Scott ran well organized tournaments in SoCal when 100+ boats competed on our small over crowded lakes and has the know how and skill to do this. Without off limits and not everyone agreeing on exactly what the rules are only invites stretching the rules and a downward spiral.
Trailering a rig from SoCal to fish NorCal events or vice versa is difficult today with quagga mussel issues and high cost. Today's bass tournaments are like a club events with money payouts.
Tom

Were there fewer tournaments, and tournament organizations, in the '80s and '90s?
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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby 2833-34497 » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:58 am

Could be why kayak tourneys/trails are growing in popularity due to lower costs. Savings in gas, registration, maintenance, etc. on a bass boat alone versus a kayak would be huge IMHO.

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby ash » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:24 am

scottsweet wrote:Fortunately we still have several organizations still hanging in there to give us a LOT of choices. WE as the competitive angler need to support them with your time, hard cash :), and good respect and spirits. Tell them when they are doing a good job and provide constructive ideas to improve.

My .02 LOL.


100% Agree on this Scott - Support those that you see support the anglers!

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen aw

Postby WRB » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:28 am

mark poulson wrote:
WRB wrote:Scott ran well organized tournaments in SoCal when 100+ boats competed on our small over crowded lakes and has the know how and skill to do this. Without off limits and not everyone agreeing on exactly what the rules are only invites stretching the rules and a downward spiral.
Trailering a rig from SoCal to fish NorCal events or vice versa is difficult today with quagga mussel issues and high cost. Today's bass tournaments are like a club events with money payouts.
Tom

Were there fewer tournaments, and tournament organizations, in the '80s and '90s?

The tournaments were weekly and traveled to different regional lakes depending on the organization, Western Bass, American Bass, National bass etc.
Tom

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen aw

Postby mark poulson » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:21 am

WRB wrote:
mark poulson wrote:
WRB wrote:Scott ran well organized tournaments in SoCal when 100+ boats competed on our small over crowded lakes and has the know how and skill to do this. Without off limits and not everyone agreeing on exactly what the rules are only invites stretching the rules and a downward spiral.
Trailering a rig from SoCal to fish NorCal events or vice versa is difficult today with quagga mussel issues and high cost. Today's bass tournaments are like a club events with money payouts.
Tom

Were there fewer tournaments, and tournament organizations, in the '80s and '90s?

The tournaments were weekly and traveled to different regional lakes depending on the organization, Western Bass, American Bass, National bass etc.
Tom

Was B.A.S.S. out here back then?
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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby WRB » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:40 pm

No. B.A.S.S. has held random opens and 1 secret location Classic at Mead. Western pro's had to move east to compete in B.A.S.S. events until FLW started up.
B.A.S.S. claims western communities and anglers don't support their events and they are right!
Tom

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby mark poulson » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:49 pm

WRB wrote:No. B.A.S.S. has held random opens and 1 secret location Classic at Mead. Western pro's had to move east to compete in B.A.S.S. events until FLW started up.
B.A.S.S. claims western communities and anglers don't support their events and they are right!
Tom

How were they able to have 150+ boat tournaments on Castaic?
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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby Cboogy44 » Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:30 pm

WON used to dean 80 to 120 boats per tournament on castaic.

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby Kwin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:51 pm

The Mike Long and Mike Hart scenarios don't help drum up business either.

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby Mike » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:57 pm

You guys want to see Bass Tournaments done Right, give NewJen a look. They are starting their 4th year soon and these events are very well run by a great family.

http://newjenbass.com/
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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby WRB » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:06 pm

mark poulson wrote:
WRB wrote:No. B.A.S.S. has held random opens and 1 secret location Classic at Mead. Western pro's had to move east to compete in B.A.S.S. events until FLW started up.
B.A.S.S. claims western communities and anglers don't support their events and they are right!
Tom

How were they able to have 150+ boat tournaments on Castaic?

The early night tournaments were off the charts at Castiac.
Tom

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Re: High participation tournament cost turning fishermen away

Postby scottsweet » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:12 pm

Mike wrote:You guys want to see Bass Tournaments done Right, give NewJen a look. They are starting their 4th year soon and these events are very well run by a great family.

http://newjenbass.com/


My partner and I intend to give these guys a shot this coming season.
Scott Sweet

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