With the end of the summer offshore tournament scene drawing to a close, a thought crossed my mind: How much is it costing these teams to compete in a single event?

Lots! As in the kind of “lots” few of us can afford to even dream about.

The obvious reason, and topping the expenditure spreadsheet, is fuel. Prices, while they’re starting to drop, remain through the roof. And one of these big Sportfishing vessels can really burn through it.

But there’s a bunch more to it.

Bait – ballyhoo and mackerel to name a couple – has also seen higher costs because of “distribution” problems. Food and drinks for the day – anywhere from three to five days on the water depending on the event – suffer from the same issues. Lodging, if you’re from out of town, can be expensive as well. Some teams will stay on the boat, but most don’t. And these big-boat guys don’t stay at Motel 8.

Then there’s the entry fee to big-money tournaments. To play in every division and increase your chances of going home with some cash and trophies can cost a real bundle – in the tens of thousands of dollars.

It helps when you have the kind of bank account to own a multi-million dollar fishing boat. Some owners have annual operating budgets of around a million bucks – mortgages, insurance, hiring a captain and mate – maybe getting a few pennies back by chartering the vessel when it’s not being used by the owner.

So when you hear that a team won $1 million in a fishing tournament, don’t be too floored. When expenses for the event are subtracted, one of a gazillion IRS agents set up Uncle Sam’s cut, and the money is divided among team members, it just ain’t that much. It’s the same thing – albeit on a much smaller scale – for the weekend angler who takes his family out for a day or two on the water.

So when you tell somebody that you’re going fishing and they respond “oh, you can bring home some free fish,” tell them “if fish is all I wanted, it’s a lot cheaper to go to the store.”

To read more of my work (and tournament updates), go to: www.leetolliveroutdoors.com