Okay look…there was clearly some funny business going on in the Smoker voting, which unfairly eliminated many contestants before they ever stood a chance. Admittedly, the polling system was flawed and I got extremely frustrated by seeing my many hours worth of effort turned into an absolute sham. I have no interest in who wins…I just want it to be a fair contest, so I asked three judges to vote.
However, I can see how some would feel this, too, was unfair. Keep in mind, though, that this is my baby and therefore, I can do whatever i think is right. Having said that, I’m a reasonable guy and I put forth this compromise: I’m going to allow the voters take one more whack at this and we’ll see how they behave themselves.
While the Smoker and seasonings are already accounted for, I am prepared to toss in a hat, T-shirt, some salmon plugs and a Shimano levelwind reel as a prize pack for the winner.
So, without further adieu, I give you the People’s Choice Smoker Contest. Polls close next Friday. Enjoy…
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introducte to you the 2013 Smoker of the Year winner, Rich Shavinski, who drifted spawn sacks in Michigan’s Cheyboygan River for these hideous Chinook that look like they we exhumed rather than caught!
And because Rich actually ate these fish, he, more than most should appreciate the Grand Prize of a killer 18-inch Smoke Vault smoker from Camp Chef and a pile of brines and rubs from Hi-Mountain Seasonings.
Here’s another look at them on the cleaning table…
I asked a panel of three independent judges (who don’t know each other — or how the others were voting) to pick their top three Smokers. First place votes were worth 30 points, second received 20 and third place votes were worth 10 points. Rich got 1 first place and two seconds for a total of 70 points. Tyler’s Dawn of the Undead American River king got two first place votes for a total of 60 points and Chad Hoflin’s Barbie Pole Chinook finished third with 40 points.
Here’s what the judges had to say about the top finalists:
Judge Dix Blairson: OMFG…dude ate those things. Winner, winner, skanky salmon dinner!
Judge J-LA: “A Fistful of Schwarz.” There are a few things that jump out about this entry. No it’s not the fish; those things don’t look like they have “jumped” since Christ was a carpenter. However, what makes this a compelling entry is that this is a man who caught those salmon, made the conscious decision to keep them, and actually went back for more! They say persistence is the key to success and this gentlemen really embodies that notion. This is an angler who might possibly have questionable judgement, but his persistence is…uh…commendable?
Judge Sabs: If you left a salmon on the side of a highway for a week in 110-degree heat, they might be as dark as those four odoriferous beauties. Bon Appetit! Nom-nom-nom.
Dix Bairson: This fish makes me want to write haiku: “My foot is wet, to smoke this one, a bad idea I bet…”
J-LA: The fish itself is a tremendous specimen; Hook-jawed like an octogenarian boxer; So fungus-riddled that its “skin” is closer to Marine Recon camouflage; Geysering milt like a garden hose on high. That’s not just a money shot…that’s a lottery win!
The fish alone makes this a worthy entry for SOTY honors. However, what puts this entry over the top for me is the twisted visage of the angler. He is clearly unsure whether this is supposed to be a trophy pic or a mugshot, and just as clearly he has a strong case either way. This poor gent skipped kissing his cousin and went straight to the altar. It’s a smoker! Mazel Tov!
Sabs: The look of fierce competition on this guy’s face is merely the accoutrement to the fact this fish could have been an extra in the Walking Dead. Factor in the baby batter getting spattered on his leg, and you’ve got yourself a winner! Well done, sir.
J-LA: The smile on this angler would give the Cheshire cat a run for his money. And why not? Thats a very sizeable fish he’s holding/caressing/fluffing. Some anglers might say the pink rods in the background are embarrassing, but I suspect this gentleman planted them there for image composition. After all, how better to contrast and highlight the chum red and charcoal grey hues of that fish? In addition to size and color, the buck is clearly excited about being in the boat, and the resultant genetic dispensation gilds the proverbial lily and catapults Smiley into my top 3 of my SOTY.
Thanks to all who entered this year and also to our wonderful sponsors: Camp Chef and Hi-Mountain Seasonings. We had some incredible competition and look forward to bringing you another Smoker of the Year Contest in 2014! Stay tuned…
Now, here’s the deal…we had so much unsportsman-like conduct on the two conference championship voting polls that I’m doing away with the results and brining back all the finalists for a fair and square battle for the title. No voting for yourself several thousand times this time around! While I should disqualify a few on this list for doing just that (you know who you are), I’m going to let it slide.
To avoid cheating, I’ve asked a panel of esteemed experts to pick their top three smokers…the one with the highest number of first place votes takes home the coveted Harrison Ibach Smoker of the Year Award.
Now, lets meet our panel of judges:
Often seen sporting a dried salmon sampan, our man J-LA sadly has no relation to J-Lo, but what he does have is a keen eye for quality smokers thanks to an online course he took on the subject taught by none other than the sole member of the Smoker Hall of Fame and two-time Smoker of the Year winner, Harrison Ibach. J-LA also earned a BS in B.S. at and incredibly early age — and once made it into the top 20 of the reality show “Naked Catfish Noodlers.”
Dix Blairson has been traveling the world for much of his adult life, dedicating himself to the long lost art form of building anatomically correct and highly detailed models of rotting dead salmon out of cheese. He also has written three books of poetry on dead salmon.
All the way from Indy, Sabs probably has the most discriminating and hard to please eye for Smokers. Perhaps it comes from his time as a sous chef at New York’s Soretail Grill, where he helped prepare signature dishes like salmon eye cartilage soup and fuzzy fin fondue. Or maybe his hard edge approach to Smoker judging stemmed from the fact that he literally slept with the fishes for two long nights in Alaska when he dumped his canoe in an icy stream. To stay alive, Sabs fashioned a protective shelter out of rigor-mortis sockeye salmon carcass “logs.”
Chris Bernardi just punched his ticket to the Fungus Bowl with his impressive victory in the Soretail Divisional Playoff.
He had to hold off the hard charging Houck family boys but pulled away at the end. This week, you’ll get a chance to vote for the Zombie Fish Division finalists.
In the meantime, here are the final results from the Soretail vote…