Crowder bass tournament offers big payday

Original Articlehttp://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/outdoors/fl-outdoors-crowder-tournament-0109-20150108-story.html

South Florida bass anglers can win more money than they ever imagined by competing in the second annual Channing Crowder’s Bass Fishing Tournament.

And even if they don’t do that well, they can feel good about helping the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County.

The tournament is Jan. 17 out of Everglades Holiday Park. First place pays a guaranteed $10,000, which is far and away the biggest prize for a bass tournament in the Everglades.

“In my mind, locally the money is just incredible,” said tournament co-founder Mike Surman, an FLW Tour pro from Boca Raton. “This is the biggest money tournament that any of the guys in Florida can fish: $20,000 in prize money. Most of the tournaments pay $1,000 for first.”

Entry fee for the tournament is $125 per angler, for up to three anglers per boat. That includes dinner with an open bar, live music, silent and live auctions and raffles following the weigh-in at the Weston ranch of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Ron Bergeron.

Last year the entry fee was $100 apiece plus another $50 for those who wanted to attend the post-tournament festivities.

“It may be more money, but it’s a great charity,” Surman said. “When you’re doing most local tournaments, you’re just helping Bubba’s pocketbook. This money’s going to the kids.

“Last year we gave 100 kids rods and reels. That’s just a great thing. When guys know where the money’s going, they’ll kind of understand.”

Surman and Crowder, a former Miami Dolphins linebacker and host of a sports talk radio show on WQAM, were fishing together when the subject of ways to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs came up.

That is one of Crowder’s favorite charities, and the two men decided that a fishing tournament would be a fun and different way to help make a difference in the lives of the youngsters in the Broward Boys & Girls Clubs, which promote education, healthy living and good citizenship so kids can become successful adults.

“Channing is a great guy,” Surman said. “He really loves fishing. He’s almost as addicted to fishing as anybody I’ve ever seen. We’ll go fishing together and when he gets home, he’ll fish in his backyard. And he’s even more passionate about kids.”

The tournament features the opportunity to fish with one of Surman’s fellow FLW pros and one of Crowder’s former Dolphins teammates. Cost for that is $2,500 per angler. To register or for information, contact Kacee Reid at 954-537-1010 ext. 226 or kreid@bgcbc.org or visit ccbasstournament.com.

Because of the charitable aspect of the tournament, all entry fees are tax deductible.

And take it from Hank Krieg: if you’re fortunate enough to win the tournament, the prize money is amazing.

Last year Krieg and Steven Forssell topped a 93-boat field with a five-fish stringer weighing 32 pounds, 13 ounces.

“I’ve never won anything that big. It was good,” said Krieg, who used his share of the money to put a jackplate for his motor on his boat and also buy some new fishing rods. He gave the remainder to his wife, who used it to pay bills and buy some clothes.

“It was cool, an experience I’ll never forget.”

This year Krieg will fish the tournament with his longtime tournament partner Skip Reed. The reason they didn’t fish together last year was because Reed figured he’d fish with someone else just for the heck of it. He and partner Val Osinski finished 10th.

Krieg, who likes to do a lot of good-natured kidding with Reed, said that this year, “Skip said there was no way I was fishing with Steve.

“If I’m not fishing with Steve, Skip better do good.”

Fishing this year might not be as good as it was last year, when Krieg and Forssell had bass up to 8 pounds, 1 ounce fishing the flats at Holiday Park.

“Right now it’s been pretty tough out there. This time last year we were banging them,” Krieg said. “There’s plenty of water on the flats and I’ve been out like six times so far, but I haven’t caught a fish over 5 pounds.”

His tip for fishing the flats, which is the name for the marshy interior of the Everglades:

“Cover water and do a lot of casting. That’s basically all you can do. And then suffer later when your arm hurts.”