B.A.S.S. to Implement Newly Revised “no-info” Rule
Prior to the release of the 2018 Elite Series Schedule, B.A.S.S. has released a statement further governing the “no-information” rule. With the new 2018 rule, anglers competing in the Elite Series and the Classic are not allowed to intentionally receive information about a venue after the release of the schedule. The statement from tournament director Trip Weldon says “all anglers are prohibited from soliciting or intentionally receiving any information about the locations of fish or fishing areas on those waters.”
In past seasons Elite anglers were already on a very strict no-info rule. Anglers were not only unable to be on the water for 28 days prior to an event, they were also unable to solicit information about the tournament waters on those same days leading up to and during the competition. With the exception of the practice off limits, this year’s rule change essentially applies that same rule but for the entire elite season including the Classic.
While the intent of the new rule is to level the playing field and further showcase an angler’s ability to find and catch the biggest stringer of bass, there are several challenges within its current state, some of which will be carried over from the past rules verbiage. How those challenges will be addressed is yet to be determined (at the time of this article, an official rule has not been released). Some of those challenges carry some big questions: Are competitors allowed to exchange information with each other? How will it be enforced? What is the penalty? What is the definition of soliciting? With so many gray areas unaddressed a rule written in this manner will continue to draw attention and controversy amongst anglers and fans alike.
If this rule is as heavily supported, 80 percent of Elite anglers as stated are in favor of eliminating the local advantage, one would imagine the anglers themselves would want something more black and white. There are a couple events of historical precedence that stand out in my mind which could be further addressed or defined.
Rewind – April 2016: Wheeler Lake, Clausen Dq’d
Angler Luke Clausen was disqualified after he showed reaction to a random lie detector question about obeying the 28-day off limits. According to Bass Fan:
Clausen said he answered, “Yes,” when asked if he had obeyed the rule. He then volunteered that over dinner Thursday evening with a friend, whom Clausen did not want to identify, the conversation shifted to content published in Bassmaster.com’s blog coverage of the tournament.
Clausen said his friend, who lives in northern Alabama, was trying to interpret where other competitors may have been fishing based on the photos posted on the blog. Clausen insists he didn’t ask his friend to decipher locations and that he didn’t solicit the information – his friend simply mentioned it in the course of conversation.
Basing opinion on the details that were publicly released, it would appear the conversation was inadvertent, unintentional, and stands to question: Was the rule as written broken? Regardless of our opinion the end was result was that Clausen’s weight was disqualified from the event, fishing last in the event all but shattered hopes of a Classic berth.
Rewind – September 2016: Mississippi River, DeFoe gets help from Swindle
In the events leading up to Ott DeFoe’s big win on the Mississippi River, the morning of day four was a real struggle. We know from the live coverage and the on stage interview with Swindle, just exactly what helped Ott hoist the trophy at the end of day four. In case anyone had missed it check out Swindles go pro video http://www.bassmaster.com/video/gopro-swindles-final-day-mississippi . Without the right mindset even anglers with the best ability struggle to put fish in the boat.
As Swindle said as he rolled on by, down and out Defoe mid-day on championship Sunday, “He (Ott) was off his game and I could see it in the look on his face and his body language.” After a pep talk, an exchange of info, and a quick move to Gerald’s spot Ott began to put fish in his previously empty live well. As his daily weight grew his confidence grew faster. With a right mind and decision to make a late day move back to his area that had produced many of the fish in his four day stringer, Ott was able to make a couple late day culls and eventually go on to win the event.
The act of sportsmanship Swindle displayed with DeFoe on the final day is what makes the sport of fishing as great as it is. A competitor helping another competitor is simply unheard of in other sports. As great of an act as it was in a game with very few opportunities to win, it stands to wonder if the final day results would have turned out as they did. Neither the previous rule nor the newly written rule was not in violation here, yet it stands to question should anglers be able to receive information from other competitors?
Without clarity, there will continue to be anglers pushing the envelope of what is or what isn’t the definition of the rule. It would only seem right that Elite anglers wanting to help level the field would want a black and white written rule; a clear concise way to enforce and punish and a further definition of soliciting the information. A final question that will only be answered as the new season plays out, will it actually level the playing field as it is intended?
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