I have some insider info regarding the prestigious Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic for 2009.
As I had previously noted in my writings, there was a pressing need to greatly reduce the impact the Classic had on the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce office. The daily data collecting during the weeks of the event – not to mention the registration of upwards of 1,000 entrants – had outlived the tolerances of the always-busy folks at the Chamber. By the by, the workload also included the storing and distribution of hundreds of special gifts, along with the divvying out of daily, weekly, segment and grand prize monies, which often has to be mailed out.
This is not to say the Chamber lost interest in the long-lived Classic. It just came down to the contest barely breaking even, money-wise, while presenting big-figure expenses -- when factoring in the man/womanpower being put into the event. Just tabulating in rough figures, I can see where it cost the Chamber many thousands of dollars to cover the in-house expenses of keeping track of the Classic.
I have to admit that things looked a tad bleak for the event only a short time back. One solution was the event taking on the formant of the spring Simply Bassin’, with maybe only the 15 largest fish winning money – albeit large amounts of money (with first place fish maybe worth $2,000 – and the 15th still in the $400 range).
As discussion of this possible change leaked out, the reaction to getting rid of dailies, weeklies and segments did not sit well among most fishing folks. In fact, the resounding response was, “I won’t enter the tourney if that happens.”
There was also serious negativity over not listing every fish entered (sometimes dozens on end) since many anglers derived important data from reading the details of every weigh-in – while others simply wanted to see their name at least somewhere on the weigh-in board.
Well, there might be some upbeat news for those who liked the tourney just the way it was. It now seems technology could come to the rescue -- with all guns firing.
Through the forward thinking of some tournament committee members, a computerized data-collecting method is now being explored. It would entail the participating shops taking on the (huge) responsibility of uploading (or is it downloading?) weigh-in and registration data. That’s huge. During blitzes and such it is not unusual to have 50, 60 even 70-plus weigh-in fish arrive on, say, an insane Saturday. Each weigh-in has a goodly load of data, as recorded on the weigh-in forms. You see all that info when you check out the recorded fish displayed at www.lbift.com. In fact, that site gives a good insight into what Michelle and the Chamber folks have been doing on their own – while handling all the other Chamber business.
Right now, the Chamber and tourney committee are studying the details of setting up a data base that would be accessible to all shops. Obviously, there is some urgency to getting such a system up and running – then working out the sure-to-follow kinks. Still, it’s seems well worth the effort – and initial start-up expense – if it means anglers will stick with this famed event.
Here are some smaller changes and modifications to the 2009 Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic for 2009.
This year the event will likely run for 8 weeks, something that was tried a number of years back but presented even longer-term headaches for the Chamber. The new computerized data system should (note: SHOULD) easily assimilate this longer Classic -– by shifting the onus of data-taking from the Chamber to the tackle shops.
The first entrance fee hike in many years will also take place for 2009. The cost will be $30 – for 8 weeks, though! Also, you get a nice cap, carwash and pizza slice. By the by, that $30 is now an across-the-board fee. There will be no senior or children discounts. The thinking: Every entrant can win the prizes, regardless of age.
My read on the hike: If that 5-dollar fee increase is all it takes to drive certain people out of the event, I guess we’ll just have to bid them a fair adios. That minimal cost hike is being done in an effort to assure this historic contest carries on for generations to come.
It seems the event will keep its stellar special prize section. Some tweaking of that will be done, with each shop handling the awarding and distribution of a certain number of gifts.
The minimum size of bluefish for the Classic will increase to 32 inches. The bass stays at 34 inches.
Request: There is still tweaking going on to keep the tourney as close to its classic form as possible. While input is always welcome (I’ll absorb any emails that comes my way and pass info on to the proper folks), things are pretty transitional right now so please allow things to play out a bit before offering any wholesale complaints and/or suggestions. And it’s already understood that you don’t like the idea of a fee hike (and related across-the-board fee application) but it’s a done deal.