A Look Back At The 2022 Lipstick Salmon Slayers Tournament
By Del Stephens, Tournament Director
Move over guys because the ladies are making a move. The fifth year of the Lipstick Salmon Slayers Tournament is in the books and if there was ever any doubt as to whether the ladies wanted their own platform to compete that’s a moot point after five years of solid growth outgrowing one facility and moving to the Clatsop County fairgrounds where 402 ladies packed the auditorium on August 13th.
They’re a fun bunch and when they show up, they’re wearing smiles, a little swagger and packing a tube of lipstick in their pocket in anticipation of the big event.
Friday morning a small army set up an assembly line of people and products and within a few hours the floor was filled with rows of angler bags. Bags filled with everything from lipstick to Leo’s flashers, drinks, and VIP Special edition spinners.
In five years, this event has grown into the second largest ladies’ tournament in the US. No, I didn’t say that wrong … 2nd. Largest Ladies Fishing Tournament in the US.!! The first and second year it doubled in size then the pandemic forced a modification to our program. That year the lady’s angler bags were assembled inside the Englund Marine warehouse and a small traffic jam was waiting for us when we started checking anglers in and giving them their bags. The next day the ladies fished then weighed their fish and once the weigh-in was complete we streamed the winners live on Facebook showing them accepting their checks and trophies.
Do you know what the difference is between a rough ocean and a pandemic. Not much when you’re running a fishing tournament but the trio running this tournament has had a little experience learning to adapt and modify. Running and growing the Oregon Tuna Classic for most of the first 15 years. Megan handles the registrations and communication with the ladies as well as handles the ladies angler bag pick up and check-in on Friday, helps set up the raffles as well as live auction displays and calls out the raffles. Weddy deals with the accounting, lodging for workers and VP’s, recording the live auction and pays the bills as well as prize money. I handle most of the sponsors, build the proforma for the event then develop the budget, make the agenda for the evening festivities and MC the awards banquet sharing that duty with Megan towards the end as my voice generally is gone by the end of the night. We all overlap as needed. It’s a collaborative effort with one goal…give them more than they expect.
The Astoria west mooring basin was the scene where you first got a glimpse of the camaraderie that binds these ladies together as they congregated and lined up in front of the weigh-in station. A small crowd was on hand and the Lipstick bowhead banners were flapping in the breeze as they proudly brought their catch to the scale. https://vimeo.com/748115302
In many other tournaments it takes the heaviest weight to win, and in some cases they catch a fish they know won’t even be close so they throw it back and in some instances don’t catch another fish the rest of the day going home empty handed, but in the Lipstick Slayers tournament a series of random computer generated weights creates opportunity for any lady to hit the podium if she catches a fish. The computer program picks a weight between 5lbs. up to 40lbs. and the first weight generated is first place and so on for the next two places. The closest weighed fish to that weight, either above or below wins that place provided they are the first to weigh a fish close to that weight. This primary focus of this event is to empower women and provide them with a platform to excel. In a sport dominated for many years by men the ladies are carving out their slice and staking their claim. That claim was obvious when all the ladies and their support group of approximately 300 husbands, boyfriends, dads, guides, and significant others filled the room with close to 700 people. Remember that part about giving them more than they expect. We started the evening festivities with Generald Wilson singing the national anthem. For those new to the event, he will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and fill you with a sense of American pride. He recently sang the anthem for the Indy 500 and game three of the NBA finals and he recently did the Monday night football game. Check the video out. Turn up the volume
The first check went to Stacy Ihly – Keeter when she pocketed $5,500 for winning the Big Fish category with a 29.4 lb bruiser. It would be another hour after the live auction and bucket raffles were over to see who else would-be lucky ladies.
A few folks walked away with some nice travel & fishing packages to Costa Rica and Alaska while others picked up some very nice pistols and custom rifles. The twenty items in the live auction generated over $52,000 from the generous crowd.
It wasn’t long before my voice started fading as the live auction ended and the big checks made it to the stage where Megan did the honors.
First place random weight was 17.4 lbs and we had a fish that hit it, but the lady wasn’t present during the awards and unfortunately, we had to move to the next closest weight. At 2:14pm Karen Isley, a fishing tackle specialist at Fishermans Marine Delta Park store, weighed her fish beating the next closest fish by a mere 8 minutes. She pocketed the $4,000 first prize and her boat captain John Kaiser of Tenacity Outdoors, walked away with the $500 Captains prize.
The second-Place random weight was 4.9lbs. and Crystal Edwards brought her 5.0lb fish to the scale at 2:10pm beating the closest weighing fish by 14 minutes to secure Second place and $2,000.
There was a lot of similar size fish and this weigh-in came down to timing more than pounds.
Third place followed the same trend. The random weight the computer picked was 13.1lbs and 4 ladies hit it exactly, but Shannon Meechan was the lucky lady who brought her fish to the scale at 3:01pm and the first to weigh a fish close to that weight taking home the third-place prize.
It’s obvious with this size of group weighing fish, time is of the essence. We might have to open the weigh-in station earlier next year as I suspect there will be a few anxious lady’s wanting to get their fish to the scale as quick as they can get back to the dock.
A big part of the success comes from ladies jumping onboard and wanting to be part of something fun and inspiring, but another component is the support of great sponsors. I would like to acknowledge and thank the many years of support from Bruce Larson and RMG- Duckworth & Weldcraft Boats, starting back when I was Chairman of the Oregon Tuna Classic and as now our title sponsors these first five years. It’s been a great relationship that has grown into good friends. Bruce might be retiring but I’m sure we’ll still see him from time to time. Another shout out goes to Richard Baker and Garmin for the long-term support going way back as well. Schooner Creek Boat Works joined the fun this year and sponsored the weigh-in. Leo flashers had all the new colors in each angler bag and Pro Escobedo did a great job producing the ladies one of a kind spinner.
Huge shout out and thank you to – Lamiglas Rods, Englund Marine, Sass at Home, Haxtun’s Canvas, Paul’s Cigar Shop, Costa Sunglasses, Rapala, Clean Wipes, Camco Kill Bags, Brandon Glass & Hook-up Guide Service, Owen Hayes & OutdoorGPS, Talon Rods, Naeem Khan, Maletis Beverage, Tom Nelson & ESPN 710. Hopefully I’m not forgetting anyone.
I can’t finish this without a heartfelt thank you to the many volunteers that stepped up and gave their time. Lindsay Darr for helping setup the lady’s angler bag distribution center and Saturday’s check in as well as anywhere else she was needed. Jeremy and Debbie Jahn for loading and hauling things numerous times, handling the weigh-in as well as setup. My sister, Patty Curtis, and my niece Heather Meir for all the help.
Next years event will be August 12th in Astoria. If you’d like to be involved as a sponsor or another capacity drop me a note.