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Lodi cops go from beat to boat in Olympics

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Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2001 10:00 pm

If police officers Nick Welton and Steve Nelson hook a big mouth on the street, the perpetrator usually ends up going to jail.

Next week at a bass fishing competition, Welton and Nelson will be weighing the big mouths and tossing them back into the river.

The Lodi officers, who have been with the department just over a year, will represent the Lodi Police Department at the annual California Police and Fire Summer Games starting Monday and continuing through Aug. 17 at different venues throughout the area.

With everything from weightlifting to tennis to fishing, there is an opportunity for every officer who wants to compete in his or her best sport.

Sgt. Chris Piombo will compete in the cross country running event, but was unavailable for comment due to scheduling.

Originally known as the Police Olympics, with the first competition held in San Diego in 1967, the event has evolved into the Police and Fire Summer Games, open to any sworn law enforcement officer or firefighter.

The host department this year is the San Jose Police Department, but the fishing will take place locally.

Welton competes in large-mouth bass fishing tournaments seven or eight months a year and enjoys the challenge. He will be partnered in the team event with Nelson, who is a less-experienced but enthusiastic fisherman.

The event is judged according to the combined weight of the best five fish caught in a prescribed time period, and the keepers are relieved of their hooks and kept in a live tank until the end of the day when they are weighed and released back into the Delta.

The fish are handled with tender loving care because the competitors are penalized if any of the catch expires prior to weighing time, Welton said.

The men will launch from Lorentzen Yacht Harbor in Antioch in the early morning, using Welton’s 18-foot Ranger bass boat and will work together to get the best combined catch compared with fishermen from other departments.

“There will be guys there from the LAPD and San Diego and all over. Some of them have never seen a body of water before, but it is all for fun,” Welton said.

It’s also for medals. Last year, while representing Galt Police Department, Welton earned a silver medal in the event.

Later, in the individual competition, each fisherman will be paired with a competitor on the same boat, and they will fish against one another.

Welton has never heard of any shenanigans or attempts to sabotage the other man’s catch, “But,” he smirked, “It’s my boat, so I control where we fish and for how long.”

The anglers will use only artificial lures as is the custom in such competitions.

“Live bait has a definite advantage,” Welton said. “Worms wiggle and minnows swim around, which is pretty enticing to the fish, so you need to have technique when you use the fake ones.”

Welton enjoys all his tournaments, but looks forward with special anticipation to this one.

“It is great to meet all these different guys from all over. Kind of a big pow-wow and male-bonding extravaganza,” Welton said.

The draw for partners will be Monday night and awards will be presented on Wednesday when the men will trade in their fishing vests for soft body armor once again and head from the boat back to the beat.

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