Area resident racks up fishing success in Ludington tourney

TOURNMENT: Mark Sochocki (left) of Evart and his partners had success at the recent Tournament Trail event in Ludington. (Courtesy photo)
TOURNMENT: Mark Sochocki (left) of Evart and his partners had success at the recent Tournament Trail event in Ludington. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Mark Sochocki has had a busy summer.

Sochocki, who is executive director of the Big Rapids Housing Commission, coached a 9-10-year-old All-Star baseball team from Reed City-Evart in the state finals at Muskegon Oakridge last month.

The previous weekend, Sochocki was able to fit it into his schedule to compete in the Ludington Offshore Classic Tournament at Lake Michigan.

The event was part of the summer- long Tournament Trail series that has stops along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

His Grey Ghosts team that also included Kevin Gossen and Robb Lott, had their best tournament finish with sixth place out of more than 60 teams in their division.

“We had the third heaviest cooler of fish after day one at 116 pounds but lacked one fish for the tournament limit of 10,” Sochocki said. “On day two, we managed to catch a tournament limit of 10 fish and it’s important to try and fill your limit as each fish is worth 10 points combined with the weight of the fish. The tournament rules only allow you to weigh only seven of any species, so generally you try to catch seven king salmon and fill the remaining slots with either steelhead or lake trout so you really need to have a couple strategies depending on the fish that you’re after.”

Sochocki enjoys the fishing competition. Tournament Trail offers several events during the summer.

“I had intentions to do more tournaments but this Little League thing kept getting in the way,” Sochocki smiled. “Due to my little league coaching responsibilities we didn’t have much time to prefish or scout before the tournament began and the fishing has been extremely tough up and down the coast of Lake Michigan so far this year. There has been a lot of bait which are alewives and they have been dying all over, on shore and in the deeper water.

“On Day one, we decided to fish an area that has been very productive in past and usually not very crowded in about a 100 feet of water and luckily the fish were there and lots of four-year-old kings which have been hard to come by this year. We ended up catching six mature kings and a bunch of smaller ones then tried to head out to deeper water to catch steelhead or trout and managed only two steelies which put us just a couple of points out of the top three after the first day.”

It was not easier on the second day.

“By 10 a. m., we had only three small kings and decided to head out to deeper water to see if we could find some fish,” Sochocki said. “Finally about 15 miles offshore, we ran into some active coho, steelhead and lake trout and managed to get our tournament limit with 15 minutes left to fish. The tournament starts at 6 a.m. each day and you must be inside the pier head by 2 p.m.

His partners are friends from different parts of the state. Sochocki said he always fishes in the Ludington tournament, but this is the best they’ve done in the two-day event.

“This time of year the fishing can be really difficult and it seems that any little change in the wind moves the fish around and that is much different than in August when the water sets up and the bigger kings are staging for their spawning run up the rivers,” he said. Sochocki said he might fish in a tournament at Frankfort later this summer.