Shadow: Fishing tournaments are great learning tools – Journal Gazette and Times-Courier

shadow:-fishing-tournaments-are-great-learning-tools-–-journal-gazette-and-times-courier

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As I pondered a question posed by a local angler recently, I realized that I knew the answer but couldn’t find a way to convey that information back to him in a constructive way.His question was two-fold. First, why would anyone want to fish tournaments? Second, why should he even consider such a thing? In an attempt to answer that question and a few more, I offer the following thoughts.Fishing tournaments have grown rapidly in popularity and numbers in the past few years and for many different reasons.I remember some of the first events that I fished, all of which consisted of neighbors and local area anglers. Few of us had equipment that was reliable including our boats, motors and pulling vehicles. By gathering together at a selected time and place, we could venture to a lake that was bit more distant in relative safety. It seemed like there was always a truck or boating problem that needed dealt with, and the whole group would pitch in to help out.In this way someone wasn’t left beside the road or stranded in mid-lake. This was one of the first reasons to organize as a fishing club and hold scheduled events. There are many more.There is always the "compete to win" drive among most any sport enthusiasts, and money plays a small part in that effect. With most anglers it is just a way to keep score. They would participate just the same using toothpicks.Competition is one of the driving forces, however, that causes us to try harder and become more adept at whatever we do. For some anglers, tournament fishing may be a way to win money. For some, it's a way to learn from their fellow anglers and meet new sportsmen. For some, it's a relaxing day on the water after a hard week at work and catching fish has very little to do with their measure of success.Who are the winners in tournament fishing? Properly managed, all participants are real winners. Some will win money, prizes and notoriety. Others will enjoy the event and learn from many and varying experiences.Consider, if you will, that few would embark on a new vocation or activity without having some education in the field. However many think that just dropping some bait in the water is all that’s involved in fishing.Consider also that 90% of the fish live in 10% of the water, but less than 10% of the fishermen are fishing there. Some additional knowledge gained through the association with knowledgeable anglers will help you to find that 10%.When it really comes right down to the bottom line, most of us want to stand in the winners circle or at least finish prominently once in a while. We would also enjoy some monetary gain from the experience. Most locales have organized club tournaments or scheduled “lake events” that are pretty inexpensive to fish.Many of the larger organizations had pro-am events where you are mated with another angler for the day and the entry fee is probably less than what you would pay to hire a guide for that same day. It’s a cheap way to get some education and experience at a smaller cost. Try it, you might like it.

PHOTOS: Kids fish at Miller Park Lake

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Cheyenne Anderson, 12, of Normal hoists a catfish into the air after pulling it out of Miller Park Lake on Saturday during the Kid's Fishing Derby. About 100 children ages 5 to 12 years old participated in the annual event. 

TIMOTHY EGGERT, THE PANTAGRAPH

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Keith Sims teaches his nephew, Kevin Sims, how to cast his fishing rod into Miller Park Lake on Saturday during the Kid's Fishing Derby. About 100 children ages 5 to 12 years old participated in the annual event. 

TIMOTHY EGGERT, THE PANTAGRAPH

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A volunteer with the McLean County Sportsmen's Association measures an 18-inch catfish caught on Saturday during the annual Kid's Fishing Derby. The lake was stocked with around 800 pounds of fish in anticipation of the event.

TIMOTHY EGGERT, THE PANTAGRAPH

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Avery Castillo, 8, works to reel in her fishing line from Miller Park Lake on Saturday during the Kid's Fishing Derby. The lake was stocked with around 800 pounds of fish in anticipation of the annual event. 

TIMOTHY EGGERT, THE PANTAGRAPH

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Emily Reeser helps her son, Noah, 9, with a fish he pulled from Miller Park Lake on Saturday during the Kid's Fishing Derby. About 100 children ages 5 to 12 years old participated in the annual event. 

TIMOTHY EGGERT, THE PANTAGRAPH

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The Reeser family fishes on the east side of Miller Park Lake on Saturday during the Kid's Fishing Derby. The lake was stocked with around 800 pounds of fish in anticipation of the annual event. 

TIMOTHY EGGERT, THE PANTAGRAPH

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A volunteer with the McLean County Sportsmen's Association measures a 21-inch catfish caught on Saturday during the annual Kid's Fishing Derby. The lake was stocked with around 800 pounds of fish in anticipation of the event.

TIMOTHY EGGERT, THE PANTAGRAPH

Dave Shadow is an outdoor columnist for the JG-TC.

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