By Captain Scott “Fraz” Murie
What’s the going rate on tournament shares?”
I’ve heard this question several times in the past. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there is no “going rate.”
I’ve talked to many owners and captains and it seems that no two boats are the same. When the fishing season is really good for just about all species owners can be found betting large amounts of money in these tournaments. These days, an across-the-board bet averages from $50,000 to $70,000. For the most part, they’ve been doing it.
What have I learned after talking to some owners? Some take out expenses before any payout goes to the crew. If you win $50,000 and it costs $70,000 to fish the tournament, you get zero (thank goodness, he’s not charging you for the $20,000 he’s in the hole!). Other owners are giving 20, 25, or even 30 percent of the top to split with the crew.
The owner split is not the only variable. When the captain with ten years on the boat doesn’t split the money evenly between himself and the mates, there’s bound to be some whining. For instance, I was listening to a “walk on, walk off” third mate complain about not getting as much money as the long-time captain and mate did. That’s right, the same captain and mate that had been working for days ahead of time, making all the preparations in order to be ready for the tournament!
The fact is that there is no right or wrong on the way the owner shares the winnings with the crew. After all, it’s his boat and he’s taking all the risk up front. It’s his account that throws down $50,000 to $80,000 in cash to bet in the first place. So, he has the right to share it as he sees fit.
If it’s the owner’s choice, what should the crew do while preparing for tournament season? Each crew member should find out exactly what they are to receive in the event any money is won – before he ever agrees to fish the tournament. Ask the questions beforehand.
Here are some questions to ask: “Am I going to get ten percent of the top or ten percent after expenses, on top of my deck, or captain’s pay?” Also, “Will I be receiving a 1099-form from the owner?” at way there are no surprises. There will be no need for whining, “I only got this much and it’s not fair.”
What do I think about whining about tournament money? As a captain, I don’t want to hear it. You should have figured all that out before you ever left the dock. Whining about money ends up taking all the fun out of what should have been a winning weekend and all-around great time. Here is my suggestion: get it figured out before you leave the dock or take what you get and be happy with it.
—That’s my two-minute warning. Fraz