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St. Clair Shores

Boat ramp attracts fishing tournament

April 24, 2013

Boaters, start your engines.

Monster Quest VIII, a bass fishing tournament previously held in Harrison Township, is coming to St. Clair Shores’ Nine Mile Boat Ramp this year, bringing hundreds of anglers to the city June 22.

Ken Neeley, the owner of KD Outdoors in Waterford and one of the event’s organizers, said it can draw anywhere from 75 to 100 boats, which is why it was previously held at the end of South River Road in Harrison Township, where there was plenty of parking for anglers and spectators. But he said at that time of year, the bass are typically farther south in the lake, near the Mile Roads, because that is their spawning area. Because of that, the teams usually launched at South River Road, then drove their boats south several miles before beginning to fish.

Neeley said they had looked at several launches farther south, but none had enough parking for the tournament. It wasn’t until St. Clair Shores opened the Nine Mile ramp to the public in 2012 that they realized there would be enough parking in the area to hold Monster Quest there.

“They’ll be able to launch and save some gas money on the boat,” Neeley said.

Parks and Recreation Director Greg Esler said he “jumped at the opportunity” when he was approached by a local marina owner about the tournament.

“It would bring more people to the boat ramp because it is one of the best fishing spots around,” he said. “It would give the businesses a great opportunity to capture some of the dollars with 200 fishermen participating.”

Both he and Neeley said they appreciated the support from Macomb County Public Works Director Anthony Marrocco, who is allowing anglers and spectators to use the parking lot behind the Chapaton Pump Station for the day.

“Both of them understand the importance of being able to use that ramp and being able to bring some dollars into St. Clair Shores,” Esler said.

He said they’re working with local businesses and restaurants to provide food and refreshments for the anglers after the tournament, and that they need volunteers for the day, as well.

Two-member teams can preregister at KD Outdoors, 7688 Highland Road in Waterford or by calling the store at (248) 666-7799. Early registration guarantees an early boat position, Neeley said.

Prizes will be awarded based on the total weight of the five fish brought in by each team. Registration is $200 per team, and anglers can also get in on the big bass pot by paying an additional $10.

Boater registration will begin at 4:30 a.m. on June 22 and typically takes about an hour and a half, he said. Around 6 a.m., there will be a pre-tournament meeting to explain the rules and to stress safety, “and then we’ll get the boats in the water,” Neeley said.

The boats will launch in flights at the first safe light of day. Teams will fish for eight hours and then each flight will have an assigned time to return, to stagger the boats and minimize stress on the fish, which will be released back into the lake after the weigh-in.

Neeley said first place could take home as much as $7,500 if 100 boats enter the contest; upwards of $20,000 in prize money is expected to be given out during the day. The contest will also be raising money for the St. Clair Shores Special Needs Summer Program.

“There’ll be plenty of parking available for any residents who want to come out,” Neeley said, explaining that the first boats would probably start coming back around 2:30 in the afternoon.

The day will also include lots of raffles to help raise money for the special needs program, and anglers are asked to bring a donation of tackle, rods, reels or other fishing equipment for the special needs program.

“Later on in the summer, 10 of us anglers are going to go out to the park, and we’re going to take those young folks fishing for the day,” he said.

Each boater will also be able to get an annual pass for the boat ramp for just $65 that day, as well, which is the same amount charged to residents of St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe and Roseville, Esler said. Typically, boaters who don’t live in those cities have to pay $100 for an annual pass. If the anglers do not want an annual pass, they will pay the city $10 for a day pass for the ramp. However, the first 50 teams to register will get a free boat launch.

Esler said they’re hoping to expand the event to the rest of the weekend, with possible entertainment, as well, but those plans are still in the works.

To register for the Monster Quest VIII bass fishing tournament, contact Ken Neeley at (248) 666-7799 or Terry Melvin at (248) 240-5245.

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