Offshore Classic draws 260 boats
Written by Ludington Daily News   
Monday, 25 July 2005 02:26
While the "old veterans" will get a chance to win big money in this weekend?s two-day Gander Mountain Offshore Fishing Tournament, the youngsters and ladies took center stage Friday.

While the weather was warm Friday, the wind picked up about mid-morning, causing many of the youth boats to head in early. Their slow results echoed Thursday?s results in the Ruboy Thursday tournament.

"It was slow out there today," said Greg Magee. "But all of the kids on my boat caught fish, so that was a bonus."

The youth tournament top prize was given out for the biggest fish caught.

Justin Jasman of Kent City took home the top fish and $1,000 for a 17.2 pound king.

"It was rough out there," Jasman said. "I wasn?t feeling too good so I was below deck, and then we hooked a fish and my brother took the rod, but he couldn?t bring it in. Then I took the rod and fought it for about 20 minutes. It got all tangled up, but we got it."

For Magee, the youths are the future of the sport.

"These kids are our future, and there aren?t too many kids out there that want to do it. They have too much else to do, their families are a lot busier," Magee said. "We braved a little bit of weather, but this is about our future. It?s just good fun."

The ladies tournament, sponsored by Ludington Beverage, focused on the fun as well.

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Michelle Wiegand fished with Kevin Hughes aboard the Sandpiper II.

"We took second last year, but this year we didn?t do as well," Wiegand said. "It was a little bumpy; I just enjoy the fishing."

Team Lucky Lou only had one fish, and they didn?t even bother to weigh in, but still managed to have a good time. "We went out north of the pier and picked up one little king, but we had some people get sick and we came in early," said Jenny Lesch of Big Rapids.

The Fish Hook ladies landed 14 out of 16 fish.

"We had a lot of hits out there today," said Shawn Mallard, of Ludington. "We just like to go out there for the fun of it ? we do it every year"

The ladies aboard Katch Me, based out of Ludington, took the top amateur prize with 51.75 pounds and took the big fish prize with a salmon weighing 19.9 pounds. The Riverside ladies crew took home top honors in the pro division with a catch of 61.85 pounds.

Only one boat, the Finwarrior, had an all female crew, captained by Tracey Laaksonen. They finished fifth in the pro division.

Shelly Pletcher of Benzonia, fishing aboard Fintastic, narrowly missed big fish honors with a 19.85-pound king salmon. It was announced at the ceremony that she had won.

"It was a great fight and took me a while to bring in. I couldn?t have done it without Lorrie Smith, my netter, and Jill Spoolman, who was my cheerleader," Pletcher said. "What made it even more special was that I was out with my family."

Jimmy Gretzinger, a Ludington native and the co-host of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs-sponsored Michigan Out-Of-Doors program on PBS, fished with Magee Friday and shot footage at the kid?s prize ceremony.

"I?ve covered this event the last four years for Michigan Out-Of-Doors," Gretzinger said. "I like to come to this tournament because of the kids and women. We need to get more people into the sport, and this is a lot more fun fishing with these kids."

Gretzinger said that the location in Ludington made the event even more special to cover.

"I?ll do anything to highlight the community of Ludington," Gretzinger said. "It?s great to fish out of your home port and support the local community."

Magee speculated that Friday?s results were a good indicator of what to expect from the pros this weekend.

"Today will make a lot of people think harder," Magee said. "We have the perfect tournament issues ? what do we do now? I don?t think too many people have made up their minds yet."

Magee said that the weather should hold for this weekend, but it?ll just be up to the fish whether or not to cooperate.

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