Monday, September 13, 2010

Lanes Cove Bluefish Tournament - 2010

It was a beautiful day for the Bluefish Tournament this year.

Gloucester Daily Times
September 10, 2010
Lanes Cove bluefish event one for the ages

Ebb & Flow By Peter K. Prybot Fri Sep 10, 2010, 10:56 PM EDT

Good weather, catches, participation, organization and execution made last Sunday's 22nd annual Lane's Cove Bluefish Tournament flow like never before.

The tournament officials even frequently smiled, and two new twists occurred during this local premier game fish tournament that always takes place on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

One was named Hurricane — then Tropical Storm — Earl, which was supposed to hit Friday night but fizzled and turned out to be a category 5 media hurricane — where at least one Boston TV station urged viewers "don't panic."

In the end, it left hardly a residual swell on tournament day. Instead, a 15 to 20 mph westerly fanned the 74 degree sun-saturated dry air and also gave the contestants gusto; even though a 2-to-3-foot-high short chop often dropped their hulls below the waterline. Many of the anglers fortunately found a good body of bluefish stalking within the leeward waters between the Essex and Ipswich rivers.

Another was the registration format.

"This year, we did Saturday 9 a.m. to noon and Sunday 6-9 a.m. registrations," explained veteran tournament official Jen Grace. "Sunday's line got to be ridiculous, and people ended up waiting too long."

Previous tournaments had only a 3-hour-long Sunday morning registration. Kendra Hardy, Don Peavey and his son Brandon, Brian Cusick and officer Joe Parady once again assisted Grace with the tournament.

The team of area lobstermen Steve Boudreau and Chris "Skully" Jewell were the first registrants among this year's 441, while Gloucester electrician Sean Cranston was number 441 — three more than in 2009. A record 597 people partook in the 2007 tournament.

This year's collective $10 entry fees allowed for $1,500, $900 and $600 respective first, second and third prizes, as well as for several $100 and $50 raffle prizes. Everyone got a raffle ticket during registration.

Cape Ann businesses also contributed to the tournament. Not only did The Fisherman's Outfitter and Winchester Fishing Gear Company give rods and reels for the raffle, but Steve Connolly Seafood Company and Sea Breeze Liquors also donated gift certificates, while the Yankee Fleet gave half-day whale watching and deep-sea fishing trips.

T-shirts and sweatshirts were contributed by Rose's Marine, Pratty's and Three Lanterns Ship Supply. Cape Ann Brewing Company added a 12-pack of their bottled product along with some of their mugs. Gloucester fireman Gregg Marchant further donated one of his hand-crafted Nana Maae wooden boats. And Lanesville Package Store even paid for the two on-site portable toilets.

Not wanting people to go hungry or thirsty, area residents Dusty Ketchopulos, Chuck Walima and Nick Avelis set up several tables, complete with paper plates and plastic utensils and served water, grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and sausage, and barbecued pork cooked on a stainless steel rotisserie that Ketchopulos fabricated.

At 3 p.m., Peavey, the master of ceremonies, punctually sounded his siren and soon announced over his loudspeaker, "All right, we are going to get it (the hour-long weigh-in) going."

Ron and Nancy Parnell, their daughter Denise, and Nancy's sister Diana — crew of Denise's boat, the Sun Up — were among the first to weigh out. Contestants had to first present their tournament number, which was corroborated from the master list, before any weighing. All weigh-outs were done with a precise digital scale.

Part way through the weigh-out, Peavey announced, "Just bring the big ones up. The fish as of now has to be over 10.36 pounds to get in at third."

Four things became evident during this tournament's aging.

First, "everybody caught fish today," said Don Peavey's brother Bob, also one of the tournament founders.

Second, in sharp contrast to 2009's tournament, "There were a lot of fish this year," Cusick explained.

Co-captains and owners, Chris Wayrynen and Hal Wentworth hooked about 70 bluefish aboard the tuna boat, Went-Way, between 6 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

"We had three rods out, and we had triple hook-ups all the time," Wayrynen said. Many anglers quickly released their unwanted bluefish that had no chance of winning throughout the day.

Furthermore, this year, "The average fish size was bigger this year," said Parady.

The median weight range was up at least a pound over last year to 10 pounds.

As contestant Ross Clayton, a senior at the University of Rhode Island, lastly explained, "the bluefish were all pretty much the same size."

Don Peavey promptly ended the weigh-out at 4 p.m., and announced the tournament's Big Three, which for the first time ever turned out to be only two. The team of Ari Knowlton Miller from Lanesville and Squammer David "Dirt" Murray hooked the respective top two prizes with 12-pound and 11.9-pound bluefish. Longtime Bay View contestant, Richard Belding's 11.66-pound fish took third prize.

"I can't believe it," said a jubilant Miller, who also won first prize in the 2008 bluefish tournament with Murray.

The two hooked their winners around 8:30 a.m. with a Repala Magnum trolling off of Bay View, which was also about the same time they landed their prize fish two years ago.

Their 12-pound fish lost about a pound of flesh after being hit by their outboard's propeller.

"I almost threw the fish away after it got hit by the prop, but I said that's a big fish, let's keep it," said Miller.

"This is the first time since I began participating in the tournament in 1994 that I ever won," Belding said.

His sons Patrick, 16, and Daniel, 13, were with their father when he snagged the third prize around 6:30 am between the Essex and Ipswich Rivers, also using a Repala Magnum.

The raffle was held immediately after the big prize awarding.

"You have to be here to win," said Peavey from the bed of his truck to the surrounding crowd that numbered in the hundreds.

The raffle winners included:

Rods and reels — Bob Peavey, Zack Johnson and Nick Parisi, Jr.

The Fishermen's Catch — Scott Weatherby

Gift certificates — Steve Thibodeau and Brian Painter

Half-day deep-sea fishing trip — Capt. Mark Byard

$50 — Kevin Ryan and Rebecca Betting

$100 — Nick Parisi, Sr. and Nicole Lukegord/Dan Brown

Boat model — Josh Labrie

T-shirts and sweatshirts — Steve Conti, Ken Hubbard, Pete Carlson, Mike Appleton, Dean Horne, Larry Fennessy, Tim Lodge, Mike Jewell, Erik Lemieux and Dusty Ketchopulos.

Before the tournament came to a close, the officials further tossed about 100 hats to the crowd.

Peavey next gave his trademark tournament-ending speech:

"Thanks, everybody," he said. "I hope everybody had fun. See you next year."

Gloucester lobsterman Peter K. Prybot writes regularly for the Times about the fishing industry and other local issues. directory