A little cautionary tale about not letting too much of your “occupational expertise” intrude into your personal life:
My regular job involves verification of highly specified and precision products. As such I am involved in a discipline called Measurement System Analysis, or MSA for short. You might even say I am a Subject Matter Expert. There are others who say this makes me a bit of a, how should I put this, a “smarty-pants” (trying to keep this family friendly here).
Regular readers know that each winter I travel to the far north for an annual ice fishing tournament.
Last year there was a bit of controversy with regard to the determination of winners.
In this particular tourney, prize-winning entries are based upon length. Unfortunately they were measuring the fish using a standard yardstick, great for measuring walls and floors but not so much for three-dimensional objects like fish. Difficult to keep the fish’s nose lined up with the zero mark.
Since the tournament director is a friend, I offered to build a custom measurement board for this year’s tourney. I had built a similar board for my own use in a friendly little bluegill contest I hold annually on my own lake, so I did have some experience creating one. It had a capture angle block to push the fish against, and had an inlaid steel rule that was graduated in 1/16” increments, built of cedar and was nicely appointed with a wood-burned tourney logo.
When our group gathers each winter in the same cabin we agree that even though it’s an individual tourney, we join forces and split any winnings amongst the entire group should anyone catch a fish that takes a money spot.
One of my cabin mates was lucky enough to put a nice walleye on the ice, and a few of us headed up to tourney headquarters (local tavern actually) for the measure-in to see if we might bring back some cash to the others who stayed behind to prepare dinner.
When we arrived I was dismayed to discover that the custom board was not in use. The director was still out on the ice and had left the board locked in his truck. In a pinch, they had brought out a typical “bump board”, a device used primarily to determine if a fish is of legal length. While it was an improvement over the yardstick, at least having a lip to locate the nose of the fish against, it was only graduated in 1/4” increments.
It turns out that using the bump board, our fish cannot be determined to be any larger than another entry and would be tied for the last money spot in the tourney. Each is estimated to be approximately 19 7/8”. When I ask how much a split pot would be and do a little math I determine that if it remains tied we would each pocket just $11. I figure that we ought to roll the dice and see if we can at least completely offset our $20 entry fee by taking the spot on our own. After all, who wants to have this conversation when you get home?
“Yes, we did take a spot on the winners’ board”. “Really? How much did you win?” “Minus-nine dollars”.
I insist that we wait until my friend gets back in and use the custom board to break the tie.
Hey, fair is fair, and besides it was killing me not to see my work of art put to use. Another 5 minutes and my friend arrives off the ice and the board is on the table. Bring those two fish back up and let’s let the tale of the tape decide.
It did, and our fish came up at 1/16” short of the other entry. Oh well. Fair is fair, and peace of mind is an honest man’s pillow.
Moral of the story: Leave work at work and just go fishing, otherwise you have to go back to the cabin and explain why you are such a smarty-pants. See you on the water.
Local lakes may have safe ice by the weekend, but be careful. Ice thickness may be very deceptive as there are places where loose blocks of ice have re-frozen into new ice. You could be on four inches, but just a few feet away just one. Don’t make the news!
White Lake – Wesley’s had ice on Friday and those fishing were getting some bluegills. For the latest info on White Lake call Johnson’s Great Outdoors at 231-893-6688.
White River – The fresh flush of water from the thaw may have moved some fish in. When the river falls back down and clears, some undisturbed fish may be ready to generate some good action.
Muskegon – Snug Harbor had just frozen over again Friday, but a bridge across the open water at the shore was being used to access the ice. Heavy snow has interfered with ice making, caution suggested everywhere. Call Snug Harbor Outfitters 231-719-0759 for the latest information on ice conditions.
Hamlin Lake – The ice was reported as solid from the narrows all the way up the north arm. Many were pre-fishing late in the week for the Chamber tourney this weekend. The Hamlin Hookers tourney is next weekend and plenty of ice should be available for that as well. For information on that tournament, as well as all the latest from Hamlin, call Hamlin Grocery at 231-843-2058.