THE FUTURE OF FISHING
Pike Master League Junior Edition
Organizing lure fishing tournaments is something I have been doing regularly for the past ten years. I have done about thirty of them on different bodies of waters throughout Croatia. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved. First you have anglers-participants that basically love the opportunity to get together, catch a fish or two and earn the “Bragging rights”. Most of them I know in person or over social media and are good people I would hang with anyways. Organizing a good event is very important for the sponsors involved, as I want to return their invested value back. If not through direct sales, then thru certain awareness of their name and association with quality conducted events. For me, it is important to push the envelope here because it shapes the brand`s high profile image.
From here on it is the big picture that matters.
I feel that the only way (at least in Croatia) we can have good pike fishing is to have as many good C&R waters as possible. The more we have, the more evenly fishing pressure will be distributed and the whole concept will become sustainable. I truly believe in this and this is how I came about with the concept of Pike Masters league. It is a two-man boat pike fishing teams league that must be attractive to anglers and sponsors, but more importantly, it has to promote and support (in media coverage and direct funding) C&R waters and people in clubs trying hard to maintain it. Pike Masters League started in 2016 and consists of four tournaments basically on best Croatian pike waters that are all C&R. I can tell we are all doing a great job as all the clubs PML partnered years ago are doing better and better every year, and we are catching more and more pike on these lakes. I am stoked about this.
I love fishing from a boat, and this forbidden on most lakes in Croatia. In the past years an exemption was made just for specific tournaments. As Pike Masters League frequently visited some these venues with boats, gradually they would let boats fish certain days for practice, then just one weekend in a month, and now some of them have every weekend open to boats. It is a big deal. We are improving things and changing it for the better! Surely there are clubs who are now more willing to follow and accept conservation and C&R regime just by watching Pike Masters League and similar tournaments.
To make Pike Masters tournaments more attractive, we are doing live weigh–in after the tournament hours “Bassmaster style”. Club staff collect all pike caught throughout the day and keep it in carp sacks near the weigh-in site. After a good warm lunch and a beer or two, we live weigh the fish in front of all anglers and spectators with me MC`ing the whole thing in a casual manner and mostly unsuccessfully trying to either add to drama or make people laugh. After the weigh-in, the pikes are immediately released back into the lake. Current leaders are sat in a “hot chair” and by weight estimate we are weighing anglers with most weigh last. Sometimes it gets pretty nerve wrecking and sweaty. All of this is was broadcasted LIVE on Savage Gear Croatia FB page.
We had 21 teams from all over Croatia, Slovenia and even a team from Serbia participating in Pike masters League 2019 which made it quite international. With four tournaments 20+ boats each it is fair to say this is one of biggest and most prolific lure fishing competitions in Croatia on a national level.
We decided to take it one step further this year and organized first ever Pike Masters JUNIOR cup – lure fishing pike competition organized just for kids 5-20 years of age with all weigh- ins, banners, MC, prizes…the whole package. Free entry, prizes, breakfast, lunch included. The original plan was to do one in spring 2019, but kids and parents were so thrilled about it we did another one in the autumn. 41 kids showed up from entire central Croatia. I knew it will be awesome for the kids, but I never foreseen the impact it will have on myself and all the other people involved.
Heavy rain and cold wind for three hours competition only emphasized determination and passion these 41 kids feel for lure fishing. Amazing. They caught 12 pike and the vibe around it was just incredible. Both kids and parents showed genuine excitement and happiness. We did something special that day…
Guess we will have also Pike masters JUNIOR league in 2020….
Im also a manage a group of bass fishing enthusiasts called Croatian Bass league, but this story we will do in another blogpost. It is still about promoting and growing the sport of lure fishing, but quite different challenges we deal with there…
All six pike in this shot were caught by 15 years old Tin Skarec - winner of inaugural Pike masters JUNIOR cup held in May 2019. Young anglers were glad to help with posing after a quick lesson on how to safely grip a pike
A big pike is caught here and there…
In Pike masters Junior cup young anglers get a chance to participate in real tournament with live weigh in and nice prizes with breakfast and lunch without entry fee. Dario Medved with his catch
Heavy rain and cold wind for three hours during the competition only emphasized the determination and passion these 41 kids feel for lure fishing - Amazing.
Just got to love this sight