Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Living in the Gray: Is It Something New? by Bruce Callis Jr

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Living in the Gray:
Is It Something New?
by Bruce Callis Jr

There has always been that thin line between the black and white of the rules in bass fishing. To win, anglers will sometimes step into that area. And with it comes changes to the rules. And there are plenty of rules known by the angler that produced the change. Bill Lowen has one. It cost him dearly before this rule change too.


In the heat of the moment, we can do something we didn’t mean to do. Accidentally having 6 fish in the livewell is one. The rules say you can’t make a cast with 6 in the livewell. It was supposed to be you had to call the tournament director before removing the 6th bass, the largest. Bill Lowen had 6, made a cast, culled out a bass, but the moment he did, he remembered he missed a step. He made the call immediately afterwards and unfortunately that cost him the whole days’ catch. Now, after the rule was changed, it is a 2 pound penalty and you keep going.


But how far into the gray are some anglers willing to go. One rule that has changed this year is about off limits on information on the fisheries that the Elite Anglers will fish once the schedule is released. Prior to the change that was just made, the EQ Anglers fishing the Opens could legally get information up until they officially made the Elites. This meant that if you were leading and had it wrapped up for the invite, but had not officially won it yet, you could get information on anywhere the Elite Anglers are scheduled to fish the following year. Now the rule states that EQ Anglers must live by the same rules.


But how thin a line are some anglers willing to live, how hard are they willing to push it. Some anglers probably won’t get close to the gray, while some others will skirt the edge of the gray, and then you will have that one who lives to push it to the limit every time on the water. The drive to be the best, the drive to stay on the Elite series, the drive to win will always be the reason some will do it.


The Elite Angler has a big rule book they are supposed to read and know. Every tournament there are specific rules for that body of water. And the angler is supposed to know them. These are rules that are gone over in their meeting for that tournament. One of the most important rules in the book is that if you see someone breaking a rule, you must report it. If you don’t, you could be disqualified yourself. Do they like the rule, I would venture to say not at all. Why? Who enjoys calling out a friend, a family member, on something they did? But it is the rule and they must do it. We might call them a snitch, but in reality, most times they will go to the angler and let them know that they need to report it themselves. At that point, they put it in their hands to do the right thing. They will still need to check to see if they did and if not, report it themselves.

To me, when a competitor angler goes to the angler who they saw break a rule, they are saying to them, please go report it so I don’t have to be the bad guy. They are telling them that they care about the sport and while they don’t like the rule, they have to live by them. And if they don’t go, they will have to do it. They are giving them the opportunity to right the wrong!


I listened to Bill Lowen on Zaldangerous Podcast about the rules and the gray area. I also heard him speak about the hot topic of FFS, Forward Facing Sonar and his take on it. We have rules on sight fishing, and that when you catch a bass it has to be hooked inside the mouth. I had not thought about it, but he said that when you are using FFS and catching bass you are seeing, shouldn’t it fall under the same rule of being hooked only inside the mouth? If it isn’t, then you must release it immediately?


I also listen to Ike Live with Mike Iaconelli and his guest Kevin VanDam talk about FFS. Kevin said that like any other sport, there are always going to be changes made. And like NASCAR, there will be changes that are made to keep the sport more competitive. You can not regulate ability or knowledge, but you can regulate things like horsepower, electronics, etc.


I have also hear from John Crews on FFS. He came up with an idea of limiting it’s use. Of course, this would be getting the companies to come up with the programming to have a tournament mode that would have a clock that shuts it off when the prescribed time limit hits. Some interesting thoughts from everyone on the idea of FFS and it’s use. I see advantages of it, but as a fan, I hate seeing someone ride around looking down at the screen and not making a cast until they see a fish. We need to find a happy medium that will work to help the sport we love still grow. It isn’t about the young versus the old, but it is about keeping the sport even and competitive while keeping the fan base growing.


We will have to see where the leagues will go this off season, or before. Changes will come, some will be happy, some won’t, but hopefully it keeps it real for the fans. Hopefully the gray area between black and white, the right and wrong of the rules will be ironed out so the line, the gray area, is even smaller. Stay tuned for the breaking news!



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