August 06, 2011 Leonardo Fluke Masters Tournament 1st Place

On Saturday we fished the Flukemasters. Our Team consisted of GDubya George, Hollywood Mike, Jon Devin, Eric the Mortgage Man and ALS Mako Steve. From the shot gun start to the scales we worked 4 areas covering 75 miles of water.

After working two spots with about 7 keepers to show for our efforts and knowing I had the team to fish a productive snag, we made the move. From the start it yielded quite a few keepers up to 6 pounds, but nothing to win a five fish tournament. Knowing there had to be a big one in the mix, I opted to stick with it. Around 12:45 Mike’s rod bends over unlike anything I saw before and I knew this wasn’t a Hollywood bend and that he had a potential doormat on the other end. After a battle that seemed like forever Mike had his first doormat at 10.5lbs (per our boga 30) on deck and our team now got a boost knowing that there was still time and opportunity to support it with other fish. We now had a genuine shot at a place and maybe even the Calcutta fish in the tournament. Shortly thereafter the spot went cold so a quick move to a nearby piece gave us a drift that added more keepers with 2 fish in the 6# range.

With spirits high, on the way to scales we hear the high and low weights were between 48# and 34# and 18 pounds was the Calcutta fish. With that our spirits diminished somewhat as our 5 fish weighed 36# on my boga 30. Allowing for a 2 pound margin of error, we conservatively felt we were right there for the last place. We also wanted to get Mike an official weight for his doormat so off to the scales we raced.

At the scales we put our fish into the basket and they asked us to drain off the residual water before they were taken to be weighed. We were astonished when our total weight came in at 49.2#. We then asked them to weigh Mike’s fish and it came in at 18.1#. With that we questioned the results and they weighed the big fish 2 more times with the same results. We thought this was a 10# fish and we were told the scale was fine, so we pulled away after being told that all previous weigh-ins were performed on the same scale and so it would make no difference in the rankings. Confident this would be sorted out, I called a fellow captain immediately who had a big fish with a supporting catch who did not weigh in. I encouraged him to go weigh in but he was already back at the dock.

So we started the same time, we fished both hard and fairly by the same rules, weighed our stringer on the same scales, and ultimately our stringer was declared the winning catch by the tournament committee. I waited to post anything until this was all sorted out. I’m not going to stand on soapbox and pontificate about what might have been or could have been or the mistakes made. What I will say is all boats that weighed before us either knowingly or unknowingly accepted the results without question. I was since told by the tournament director that our questioning alerted them to the problem but it was too late for them to do anything about it. Am I happy that this tournament win was not a definitive one for our team due to the mistakes of those running the scales, NO I am not. This experience has damaged or seriously put into question relationships for a problem that was not created by us in the first place.

So with that said I spoke to the Tournament Director today to understand what went wrong and what’s being done for the future. He genuinely felt very bad, was apologetic and walked me through the following:

  1. The scale was certified by the state prior to the start of the tournament
  2. The scale was set in ounces but was being read in pounds.
  3. All fish were weighed consistently
  4. Official weights were arrived at by dividing the recorded totals by 16oz and subsequently distributed to the media and tackle shops
  5. We were the first boat that alerted them to issue which unfortuneatly was with about 15 minutes remaining in the tournament. At that time it was too late for them to do anything about. – Footnote – I have since come to learn the 3rd place boat said they also questioned their weight earlier.
  6. The team working the scales has done so for many years and they are still sorting out why it took so long to notice the problem.
  7. He declared there was no question that our team had won based on all the catches that were weighed in.
  8. Their tournament committee is meeting to ensure this does not happen again
  9. If anyone has an issue, Jeff the tournament director said to please contact him to discuss

From this I also have concluded that weights will always be in question. When a reputable tackle shop, a tournament scale recently certified by the state and our boga all varied weights within a pound based on weighing Mike’s big fish, there is a bigger problem in the veracity of weights. Dividing Mike’s tournament weight on the state certified scale by 16oz would put the real weight of his doormat at 11.3lbs.

Per Al Ristori’s Blog today:

Due to misreading a scale set for ounces, the weights reported last night in Saturday’s Fluke Masters Tournament were greatly exaggerated. That has been straightened out today by the organizers as follows with five-fish total weights and prize money:
1. Alan Beneroff – 30.78 pounds – $1642
2. Capt. Erwin Heinrich – 30.22 pounds – $985.50
3. Bob Kamienski – 25.76 pounds – $602.35
4. Dan Snell – 25.63 pounds – $328.50
There weren’t two 16-pounders, as originally reported, but the big fluke Calcutta went to an 11.75-pound doormat boated by Snell.

The Team had a GREAT day of fishing boxing 25 Keepers capped off with Mike landing his Personal Best Doormat and George boating a limit. 2 knuckleheads, 2 ling and a gator blue rounded out the catch for the day. Everything was caught on Gulp, Strip Baits and Mai Tai & Custom bucktails The rest of the TEAM, as this was a TEAM effort Jon, Steve & Eric all contributed to the tally and our tournament win, a true TEAM effort. With a ton of joking and roasting going on all day a good time was had by all. It was a fun. Win or no Win my team, other captains and friends have showed me true friendship and support and I will always value that. I look forward to our future fishing trips. While my name is the one that is associated with the win as the Captain, this was a TEAM effort and their names should share the public recognition along with mine. Without their tireless fishing all day and respective fishing talents, there would be no catch to weigh in. I don’t need a Tournament Committee to tell me they are winners. Winning the tournament was a bonus.

So this is my fishing report for the tournament and I would appreciate it that if anyone has issues with the tournament conclusion, I encourage you to please refrain from commentary via the keyboard and address directly with the tournament director, Jeff.

Congratulations to the other winning captains on assembling their stringers.

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