With annual Ludington community events like the LudRock music festival and the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament being canceled in wake of COVID-19, the city turned to its weeklong fishing event, the Ludington Offshore Classic, to lift some spirits. The event kicked off on July 14.
The event usually is accompanied by a beer tent, food and live weigh-ins and award ceremonies for spectators and locals to enjoy. This year, that wasn’t the case, though holding the tournament itself was more of the priority.
Starting it all was the first leg of the Big Boys Tournament, a two-day competition to see which crew could catch the highest weight of fish with a limit of 12 fish per day. With upwards of 30 boats participating, Team Hiatus took home the $21,000 grand prize after day two concluded.
Knudsen’s crew was the only one to catch the limit of 12 fish on either day, and they did it on both days. Hiatus’ crew is all local. In a big tournament, the best fishermen from all over Michigan come to show off their skills. For a local crew to win it is something to be proud of.
With the conclusion of Big Boys came the Ruboy Thursday Tournament, named after Captain Pete Ruboyianes. The tournament is more or less a “one-day sprint” version of the Big Boys Tournament, with many of the same regulations. Over 70 boats registered for the tournament, more than doubling the Big Boys’ 30 boats.
Team Shinin’ Times, based out of Grand Haven and Muskegon, took home the $3,000 grand prize after finishing fourth overall in the Big Boys Tournament a day prior.
Although the Big Boys Tournament is Ludington’s big ticket tournament of the summer, a case can be made that the Ruboy Thursday Tournament is actually more difficult to win. The fact that it’s only one day in length, with hundreds of quality fish being removed from the water in the two days before along with the drastic increase in competitors makes winning the tournament quite an accomplishment.
Friday brought the Ladies Pro/Am Tournament for the first time in three years; the past two years’ tournaments were canceled due to inclement weather. Team Sportsman II brought in the highest weight of fish in the one-day tournament to win the $1,000 grand prize.
Miller was excited that the women were finally able to get out and compete, stating that it “looked like everyone had a good time.”
Also taking place on Friday was the Ludington Offshore Classic Youth Tournament, which saw over 50 kids participate and 36 of them weighing in at its conclusion. As with the Ladies Pro/Am, this was the first time since 2017 that the youth got to compete.
The youth regulations were different, as each child was only allowed to weigh in a single fish with the highest weight winning the tournament. Chase Anderson brought home $500, catching a 28.8-pound king salmon. After a 45-minute fight with the monster fish, he reeled it in just after 6 a.m. Anderson was “shocked” when he got a look at the fish, adding that it was the biggest fish he’s ever caught.
The final tournament of the Ludington Offshore Classic was the two-day Pro/Am Tournament, which was cut short on Saturday morning and canceled on Sunday. Nonetheless, Team Sportsman II was able to haul in 154.55 pounds of fish in the four hours that the tournament was run, crowning them champions and recipients of the $10,000 grand prize.