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Flat-out excited to be part of inaugural event in Erie

(Submitted photo)
Longtime Erie resident Larry Morine (left) and longtime fishing partner Ray Graham show off a 69.8-pound catfish they caught during a Cabela's national tournament in Florence, Ala., 3 years ago. The duo split up for this weekend's first Flats N Cats tournament to get more boats in the water.

Good news, folks. My ride for Saturday during the first Flats N Cats tournament isn't worried about me being a liability. That's good news, because I couldn't tell an Ugly Stick from a harpoon these days.

Larry Morine and Al Stichter need not worry, because my catch – or lack thereof, more likely – won't factor into their haul. Nor are they worried about any bad joojoo a newbie could bring to their craft.

"I'm not worried," Morine said during a game-planning session at his home in Erie on Wednesday. "My luck has sucked this year. It can't get worse."

I use the term game-planning loosely. It was more of an opportunity to put faces to names on a weeknight, rather than at 5 in the morning Saturday.

Oh! And I learned some stuff. Hence, this column.

I really like the angle the guys – Adam Tiemann and Larry's son, Joe – have taken on the Flats N Cats' maiden voyage. Having taken part in hundreds of tournaments, they're after the everyfisher. Joe shared that, last year alone, he fished four events that paid out to the top three teams. Three times, his duo placed fourth.

"That can send you away with a sour taste in your mouth," he said.

One hundred (spelled 100) percent of the registration fees paid for this bad boy will be paid out, and the guys plan to pay out to as many places as possible.

"The first time people leave an event with money, they're hooked," Joe said.

Another lure (see what I did there?) of this event is the five-fish limit. Most tournaments feature a 10-fish limit, making novices nervous that they might not even reach the limit, let alone most of them be beasts.

Adam is excited that a number of younger teams – he calls them "kids" – are planning to take part. Since he and Joe will be handling all the registration Saturday morning, it's uncertain exactly how many boats will go in the water. But word of mouth is promising, and Adam hopes for 30 to 35 vessels.

Larry's accustomed to fishing with longtime partner Ray Graham, but they've decided to split up and compete for a change, meaning an extra boat in the water.

In addition to a broad range of payouts, the guys are also setting up an electronic scoreboard for the event. This is some big-league stuff, man. When Adam referred the event as a Cabela's spinoff a few weeks ago, he wasn't kidding.

Cabela's has been very good to the gang I met Wednesday, and the event also couldn't happen without the boys' boat dealer, M&M Marine, who helped facilitate Larry's sponsorships with Alumicraft and Mercury Marine. Another driving force is M-N-M Cheese Baits.

It's been long overdue that I get into a boat as part of the Into the Wild, and I can't thank Adam enough for making this happen. I think Larry, Al and I are going to hit it off famously. I've been promised lots of stories, and Lord knows I've got plenty of my own to share. Oh, and they're providing me with tackle and rods, so you can rest assured I won't be out there with a harpoon.

It will be great to see greatness in action. Morine might be having a rough year, but this is the same guy who placed third in the Cabela's event in Florence, Ala., 3 years ago. He hauled in a 69.8-pound monster during that event.

I said it was too bad the lunker hadn't had just a slightly bigger breakfast.

"Yeah, it's too bad I didn't feed him just a slightly bigger bait," Joe said.

See? This is gonna be fun. It's not too late to join in. Hope to see you at the marina Saturday morning. And, hey, if you can't make it, the weigh-in at noon should be a blast, too.

What: 1st Flats N Cats Tournament

When: Registration opens 4 a.m. Saturday; boats launch at 5:30

Where: Glenn Miller Marina, Erie

Twitter: Follow Christopher Heimerman (@CHeimerman_SVM) for live updates and look-ins during the event.

More info: Call Adam Tiemann at 309-945-6827

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