BY FRANK MAND
PLYMOUTH – There’s something fishy about the town’s 400th anniversary.
Five years ago, when the nonprofit responsible for turning Plymouth’s big birthday in 2020 into an international event got started it thought big: big events; big guests; big numbers of tourists.
But nobody was thinking big fish.
Plymouth 400 Inc. soon realized, however, that it had to think outside the box if it was going to raise the working capital needed to plan, promote and pull off the biggest bash the town had seen in 100 years.
So the group created, among other events, a whisky tasting dinner, cocktails on the HMS Bounty and, three years ago, the first Bass & Blue Tournament.
The inaugural event raised a surprising $10,000 for Plymouth 400 Inc., and last year’s tourney raised an impressive $25,000.
This year, to coin a phrase, it’s hoping “the sea’s the limit.”
Now in its third year, the tournament should generate even higher numbers – of both participants and money raised. But Plymouth 400 isn’t resting on its laurels.
This year’s tourney is a two-day event (Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13) and you can fish any of Massachusetts’s coastal waters – not just Plymouth.
The tournament kicks off with a Captain’s and Crew Cocktail Party Thursday, July 10, at Brewer Marina in Plymouth.
Once fishing begins Saturday, all fish will be officially recorded at the Brewers Marine Weigh Station, which will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (July 13).
Peter Balboni, chairman of the Lead-Up Events Committee for Plymouth 400 Inc. and the owner of Pioppi’s Package Store, will introduce a public barbeque Sunday afternoon.
The BBQ focuses on the family aspect of Plymouth 400 Inc., Balboni said, and “will be a great opportunity for the local community to gather together to watch the weigh-ins, have a burger or a hot dog, a beer or soda, and talk fishing.”
The tournament will culminate with the barbeque and an awards ceremony.
One person who is definitely entering this year – and challenging others to do the same – is last year’s top winner, Matt Stafford.
“My father and I will be fishing the tourney again this year,” Stafford said. “I apologize ahead of time to anyone who plans to enter the tourney.
“We both love fishing and do a lot of it together all over Cape Cod Bay,” Stafford continued. “We are both very competitive people. Every trip we go on is a mini fishing tournament between the two of us (a buck for the first fish, a buck for the biggest fish). We love the Plymouth 400 Bass and Blue Tourney because it’s a two-day tourney that allows everyone plenty of time to try out all of their honey holes. We wish there were more local tournaments like this.”
Taking up Stafford’s challenge, among many others, is Eben Howland, last year’s runner-up in the adult category.
“We participated last year to support the community,” Howland said. “I’ve lived and worked in Plymouth for my whole life. I caught a 20.3-pound bass off of Race Point on the Flyin’ Finn with Captain Tom Lundy. I’m really looking forward to bettering my position this year and bringing home the first-place trophy.”
“The Bass & Blue tournament was one of the first events created on behalf of Plymouth 400,” Executive Director Michelle Pecoraro said. “And, like the Forefather’s Family Fun Day in August and Midnight Masquerade slated for New Year’s Eve, we intend to grow this over time. We are fortunate to have dedicated partners working on these events in support of what is truly the most significant anniversary this country has seen to date. We invite the community to attend these events and visit our website to find out more about the plans for 2020.”
As in previous years, the tournament will include divisions for adults (16 and older), youth (ages 7-15), and children (under 7) and will be separated into categories for those fishing onshore and offshore. The awards for 2014 total more than $4,000 in cash and prizes.
Prizes in the adult categories will be $400 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place, plus a trophy.
Registration is still open, and costs $40 for adults and $20 for ages 7-15 (children under 7 participate for free). You can complete your registration online atwww.plymouthma400.org/bassandblue2014 or register in person at Pioppi’s or the Plymouth Cruises and Andy Lynn ticket booths on the Plymouth Town Wharf.
BY FRANK MAND