Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Tales of the Salmon Seekers
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Tales of the Salmon Seekers

Patrick Sullivan - August 22nd, 2011
Tales of the Salmon Seekers: Champion fisherman Scott Alpers fought his way back from injuries

By Patrick Sullivan

If the best fish stories are about the one that got away, charter boat
Captain Scott Alpers has a story four times better.
One year during the Salmon Classic, an annual salmon fishing contest on
Grand Traverse Bay, Alpers and his crew wound up with a bunch of fish
hooked all at once early in the tournament.
Things looked good aboard his boat, the Big Kahuna. Until they got too
His crew of four guys had six lines down and five fish on. They had their
hands full.
They landed two of the fish which they kept in nets as they struggled to
keep the boat out of the way of other traffic, Alpers said.
There was just too much going on at once to keep track of everything.
“It was just a mess because the fish were running back and forth across
the boat,” Alpers said.
Two fish were lost when their lines were cut by downrigger wires.
Then there was more bad news.
“The two that were in the nets -- we didn’t even notice it, they jumped
out of the nets,” Alpers said.
Out of the five fish that had been hooked, the crew wound up with one fish.
“Too much is not always good,” he said. “That’s one thing about fishing
that you learn -- sometimes you run too many lines.”
But for fishermen like Alpers, that’s what the Salmon Classic is all
about: one big adrenaline rush.

Alpers is lucky to be fishing at all. A bad car crash in March of 2008
could have taken his life.
Alpers, 52, said he was stopped at a light waiting for oncoming traffic to
pass so he could make a left turn, when a car came from behind at full
speed and slammed into his vehicle.
His life has not been the same since and he has trouble getting out on the
water to fish nowadays.
He says he can’t go fishing on Lake Michigan anymore because the pounding
waves irritate his back and neck. Alpers hopes another surgery this winter
will improve his condition. In the meantime, his crew does the charters
That hasn’t kept him from his favorite tournaments, though.
He couldn’t do the first tournament that spring after the crash, but he
was able to get out that year for the Salmon Classic. In fact, he’s never
missed one since 1991, the first year of the tournament.
“Even the year of the car accident, I did go out with the guys, but it was
pretty much dead calm that year,” Alpers said.
Over the years he has won the pro division five times, including in 2009.
And he plans to be out there again this year on his 10-meter Trojan
charter boat.
The Salmon Classic, hosted by the Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing
Association, takes place Sept. 2 through 4 and first prize in the “main
event” is $5,000. There are other prizes, including for the overall
largest fish caught during the tournament.

Fishing is about a long list of things that you can control and a
shorter list of things you can’t, Alpers said. Things under the
fisherman’s control include the depth where the bait is set, the speed
of the troll, the location where you fish and the number of lines used.
What you can’t control is whether the fish will bite.
“It’s getting them on the hook. That’s what I enjoy,” Alpers said.
Alpers said his favorite thing about a tournament is getting that last
fish on the line in the closing seconds before time is called.
“I guess it’s catching that last fish when they call five minutes left,”
he said. “We’ve done that two or three times. I mean, the adrenaline
It can take 40 minutes or more to land a large salmon. In the final
minutes of a tournament, a team might need to bring it into the boat in
five or ten. When a last-minute catch is on, the crew pulls all of the
other lines and throws the boat into reverse to speed things up, things
fishermen wouldn’t do in ordinary conditions, Alpers said.
“That’s when the time gets really critical, when you’ve got a 20-pound
fish on and he may not want to come in right away,” he said.
Another feature of the Salmon Classic is that so many boats crowd around
the hole in the bay near the mouth of the Boardman River.
That’s where conventional wisdom says people will find the most fish, but
Alpers doesn’t believe that’s always true.
“We’ve won the tournament going up along the shore, just staying out of
that mess,” Alpers said.

Marty Ross won the amateur division in last year’s tournament.
For Ross, the tournament was a family affair. He just enjoys being out on
the water with his wife, son, daughter and son-in-law on his 22-foot
Pro-Line, Against the Flow.
“We do it for the fun of it,” said Ross, who is a construction
superintendent for Grand Traverse Construction. “Win or lose, we’re going
to enjoy this.”
Ross has been salmon fishing since the mid 1990s and he’s only entered in
a few tournaments. Before last year he entered as a crew member on a
friend’s charter a couple of times.
During last year’s Salmon Classic, the fishing time got cut from two days
to one day due to rough seas.
Fishing that Sunday, Ross said he thought he had trouble landing the limit
for the day, six fish, and he wasn’t too impressed with his catch as he
drove back to shore.
“We had a slow start, we didn’t have anything... for two hours or so,”
Ross said. “It wasn’t a pretty box; it wasn’t a really heavy one as
competitions go.”
Turns out everyone else on the water had trouble that day and when the
score was tallied Ross and his family had the most points. Boats earn
points for the number of fish caught and the weight of the catch.
Ross got into the tournament last year because he and his family had won
the Wednesday night fishing league the year before. Part of that prize was
a free entry into the Salmon Classic.
“Everything kind of worked in our favor,” he said. “We didn’t have to pay
to get in it and we ended up taking their money, so it was fun.”
Ross said he hadn’t decided whether he’s going to enter this year’s
tournament because the rules have changed and now amateurs and pros
compete head-to-head. There is a division for amateurs, but they must
enter with boats shorter than 17 feet.

Salmon fishing is not exclusively a men’s sport.
There’s been a women’s division in the Salmon Classic for several years.
“That’s something that is not uncommon,” said Ryan Matuzak, president of
the GTASFA. “I would say that it’s something that is growing in
Women also compete as crew members in the other divisions, including in
the pro division, he said.
Women are also frequently found on charter trips. They have their own
“It used to be that wives never went. Well, now all these tournaments, the
tournament trail, they call it, have put in women’s tournaments,” Alpers
“Women have a great time on charters, too. They’re hesitant to come out
with their husbands, but once they come out, they have a great time.”
For more information or to register, go to gtasfa.com.

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