Sunday, April 21, 2024

Following the Rules: The Cost of Failure to Abide By: by Bruce Callis Jr


Life is short, but there are so many rules to follow. One way streets, speed limits, no parking, no turn on red, no fishing, no trespassing, just so many rules we have to follow. And we know them, and we push them to their limit all the time. Bass fishing, or any type of fishing has it’s rules too. Some we like, some we don’t, but they apply to everyone.

In fishing, we must have a license to fish, and special ones for certain things, like trout fishing. In addition to the general permits, we may need a special one to fish certain areas. Our boats, when motorized, must be registered and have current stickers. And we must have the proper safety equipment on board as well. And we gladly fork out the money for the permits and equipment because the cost of the ticket for not having them is too high.

In tournament fishing, no matter what league we are fishing, there are even more rules we have to follow. Fish have to be a certain length to keep in the livewell, and we understand it and follow it. You can only have 5 fish in the livewell, and if you catch a bigger one, you must get rid of one before you go back to fishing. We understand it and yet, sometimes we mess up. For an Elite angler, this is costly! But they accept the fact that they made a mistake and while it stinks, accept the penalty and continue fishing after correcting the problem. And there are a lot of other rules pertaining to the actual act of fishing. And rules about your boat and what it must have, like insurance minimums.

Anglers are supposed to know the rules, they have to agree to abide by them before the season starts. It is also a rule that if there is any question as to any rule, you must call the tournament director. Other anglers are also part of the rules, as they must report any violations they see another angler doing or be just as guilty as said angler is. Doesn’t matter if it’s your buddy or not!

A lot of anglers have been disqualified because of these rules. And some we just minor oversights. Not enough insurance on your boat (there is a minimum standard as to the dollar amount), fishing on the tournament waters when the tournament waters are off limits, to fishing off limit waters. There have been other things too, but we aren’t after the full list here. And others have pushed those rules, having new rules put on the book because of what they have done. Roland Martin, Scott Martin, Ott DeFoe, and others have all had rules put in effect because of something they have done.

And the latest is a hot topic all over the internet and social media. Of course we are talking about Keith Poche. I have no issue with Keith and I like what he does as an angler. But at the same time, I don’t feel like he is above the rules. I don’t have inside knowledge of the exact reason he was DQed, or why it happened. There are a lot of people taking sides on it. Some saying B.A.S.S. made the wrong call, some saying Keith was wrong, and others saying Keith messed up. But it doesn’t matter which side you are on, someone is going to disagree with you.

To me, it is really a simple matter of Keith pushing the limit and it didn’t work out in his favor, this time. Keith knew that it could have been off limits, but chose to cross the dam to fish there. And this falls into the “one little phone call” category. If he had taken the time to call the tournament director and gotten a ruling on if what he intended to do was legal, it would be a dead issue, period. And we wouldn’t be talking about it.
Keith instead, decided that it was within the rules for him to jump the man-made structure. It made for a great video, that is for sure! But when he decided that he was within the rules, he decided to take that chance. It doesn’t matter if he caught fish there, just that he left tournament waters. For that, and that only was he DQed.

There has been a lot of talk that he was disqualified because he ran the type of boat he does, but it meets the B.A.S.S. qualifications, and is legal, just like all the other anglers that run an aluminum boat. Some are saying it is because he is trying to run two different major fishing leagues, but many others do it, including John Cox who also did the same thing. It only becomes an issue when it falls within the rules, like not fishing the body of water when off limits. But it all boils down to the one issue, did he break the rules every angler must abide by?

I’ve fished a lot of tournaments, and I know there are a lot of rules I don’t like. I know I will push them to the limit. But I know and accept the fact that I am the only one responsible, that it is my decision that will ultimately determine if I was legally fishing. My decision is on me and I accept what happens because of it. I may not like it, and it can hurt, but we know that before we ever hit the water. I’m not blaming others for my mistakes! I’m going to say I should have known better. What about you, are you going to own your decision?

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