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Bass tourney plans hit a snag

Beach area was double-booked

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published July 23, 2007, 3:41 p.m.)

Even at 5,200 acres, Geneva Lake apparently isn't big enough for everyone.

Two Saturday events-Big Bucks Bass Tournament and Gordy's Lakefront Marine's Splash Bash-were held on a small section of lakefront just south of Big Foot Beach.

The weigh-in site for the tournament was at a restaurant across the street, and organizers expected to park about 70 bass boats along the shore nearby.

But the Splash Bash, a company event for Gordy's customers, had several boats, barges, swimmers and swim toys in the way of returning anglers, tournament organizer Jack Mudgett complained.

Mudgett thinks the Splash Bash was held in Buttons Bay to purposely disrupt the anglers.

"That's nonsense," said Tom Whowell, whose family owns Gordy's.

Gordy's promoted the location of the event months earlier and didn't want to change it, Whowell said.

A warden noticed no legal problems, and a professional lifeguard was on duty, Whowell said.

"The fishing guys, for whatever reason, something bothered them," Whowell said. "I don't think in any way this interfered with their fishing.

"I think we were gone by the time most came in, anyway."

Geneva Lakes Law Enforcement Manager Tom Hausner requested the party to move north Saturday afternoon because the bass boats were expected to return to the area between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

But they didn't move, Mudgett said.

That created problems getting fish weighed quickly and back into holding tanks to keep them alive. About 10 died out of the more than 400 caught, Mudgett said.

State permits for the tournament required that bass be kept in "live bags" no longer than three minutes from the time they were taken from boats for weighing until being put into the holding tanks, Mudgett said.

The lack of nearby boat parking contributed to the mortality rates, he said.

"In the morning, if they could have just moved down 100 yards, there would have been no problems," Mudgett said about the party.

"I'm not allowed to have them in the bags that long. (Anglers) have to be able to come across the road and get them into my tanks. If they have to walk a quarter mile because they were blocked out, I'm breaking the rules (the DNR) wants," Mudgett said.

The next-closest boat parking area is at the north end of Big Foot Beach, which is more than a stone's throw up the road, Mudgett said. Parking in the swim area is illegal.

Justin Krauss, a tournament angler, said the Gordy's party broke up about the time the tournament was done.

"As soon as we wrapped up, he had his stuff wrapped up and was out of there. I find that kind of funny, " Krauss said.

Whowell said he wished he'd held the party on the west end of the lake nearer his business, but not because of the tournament but because windy conditions made big waves.

"It probably was a bad idea," he said. "The weather made it almost impossible."

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