"Living the Dream," "Grimm Reaper" win Grand Haven Offshore Challenge fishing tournament

Dylan Goetz • Jun 4, 2018 at 8:00 AM

For the first time in his fishing career, Tony Salerno, the president of the Grand Haven Offshore Challenge salmon fishing tournament, won the tournament at his home port on Sunday.

The Grand Haven Offshore Challenge is one of 15 fishing tournament’s on the Tournament Trail, a tournament circuit that was established in 2003. Professional and amateur competitors were able to fish and weigh in both days for a two-day tally at the end of the weekend competition.

The Offshore Challenge also hosted a “Ladies & Kids Tournament” on Friday.

Salerno’s boat “Living the Dream” won the professional title with a two-day total of 472.90 pounds. Along with a first-place trophy, the team was awarded a $15,000 check for winning the professional tournament.

The “Grimm Reaper” fishing team won the amateur competition, and took home a $5,000 check. In total, 22 amateur boats and six professional boats won cash prizes.

“Living the Dream” found success by fishing in the same spot since Wednesday, May 30.

“The fish are moving north, so we liked a spot and stayed there,” Salerno said. “We have fished there before and were in the same water all week. We are very fortunate.”

The boaters had to be in the docks by 1:30 p.m. to weigh in their fish at the Grand Haven Municipal Marina parking lot. The weigh-in and trophy presentation is normally at the Waterfront Stadium, but the stadium area is still under construction.

After every boat completed the weigh-in, the trophy presentation began. Boaters went home with gift certificates for more fishing gear, sunglasses from sponsors and metal plaques for placing in the tournaments’ top six (professional) and top 12 (amateur).

Winn Wolf, a St. Joe native and participant on the “Win-N-Angel” boat, said they participate in all of the local fishing tournaments. Wolf’s team finished last after the first day, but had a much better outing on Sunday morning.

“We’ve been doing this since the late ‘80s,” Wolf said, after posing for a photo holding a 24.65 pound chinook salmon.

Gary Salerno, Tony’s father, has been helping out with the tournament and sponsorships for 10 years. He said the tournament grows more and more each year. With 44 amateur boats and 32 professional boats, the tournament has grown into a community event, he said.

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