Fishing Contest For Lake?
Michigan City, IN
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Imagine going fishing on Lake Michigan and becoming $100,000 richer by the end of the day.
"Michigan City will be the first stop in a series of eight tournaments. We plan to have a $20,000 top prize in place next year (2009) and grow it to a point where the bass tournaments were a few years ago - the $100,000 mark."
It may be a reality for Michigan City anglers in the near future.
"That is the five-year plan," said Tom Greenberg, co-founder of the newly formed Great Lakes Salmon Series.
GL2S would support the successful Hoosier Coho Club Classic, which has operated from Michigan City since 1975 and is set for May 3-4 this spring.
"I expect entries would easily go up 25 percent next year and double within three or four (years)," said, Bob Kelsey, co-chairman of the HCC Classic. The Classic will pay a $7,500 top prize this year. The Classic was limited to 150 boats during the 1980s, but has since declined a bit, last reaching the 100-boat mark in 2005.
"It's a win-win situation for us," Kelsey added.
"The contest will still be run locally, but (GL2S will) take over some of the hard parts like securing sponsors and marketing on a large scale."
Marketing is a primary business of Greenberg and his partners. Their Experience Outdoors company has a client list including General Motors, British Airways and the Detroit Red Wings.
"Television is the key," Greenberg said. "We understand to get the big (sponsorship) dollars, we'll have to go outside the (Great Lakes fishing) market."
Greenberg pointed to the airing of fishing shows on ESPN and TNN every weekend morning and the success of channels like Versus and the Outdoor Network as evidence of the potential.
"All the elements are here - big fish, impressive boats, beautiful scenery, extreme weather ... we will deliver a high-quality program that will equal any (outdoors TV show) currently available," Greenberg said.
The GL2S plan calls for up to 10 cameras on board the leaders along with chase boats to zero in on the action
Salmon tournaments typically feature two six-hour fishing periods with a 10- or 12-fish limit each day. Scoring is based on a 10-point per fish plus one-point per pound system.
"We believe this (tournament fishing) should be a viable lifestyle for anglers," Greenberg added.
Bass Angler Sportsmen Society's Elite Series currently has 11 events, each with a $100,000 top prize. There is an Angler-of-the-Year award worth $250,000 and the Bassmaster Classic, which fishes with live ESPN coverage, pays $500,000 for first place.
Although the short-range goal is to follow the trail blazed by bass tournaments, Greenberg emphasized GL2S isn't just about the big paycheck and the pros.
"Maintaining and growing an amateur division is just as important," Greenberg said. "We want to bring anglers into the sport, educate them ... grow them into pros. "
Mike McKee is outdoors columnist for The News-Dispatch.