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Greg Hackney Asks- Should We Fish, Or Collect Information?

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OK guys, here’s another one of my questions about professional tournament bass fishing. But before I pose that question I want to make a couple of things clear.

First, I’m not accusing anyone of cheating. The rules are what they are.

Second, I’m looking for opinions. This is not an opportunity for anyone to cite specific instances or tournaments. And under no circumstances do I want anyone to talk about a specific angler. This column is about an issue. We need to take the high road.

It seems to me that the rules are allowing us (Bassmaster Elite Series anglers) to collect information that in some cases detracts from our talents as anglers. They’re putting a premium on information. That bothers me.

Let me tell you what I’m talking about…

We have a tournament next year at a place I’ve never heard of, much less fished. I contacted a fellow Elite Series angler to find out what the deal was. I learned there was a guy at this place who is supposed to be really good. He wins a lot of tournaments on the place.

My friend told me that the local had already been contacted by a half-dozen or so anglers. He’d made a commitment to help one of them. And, the angler he’s going to help is going to help him with a charity event.

Now, I have nothing against charity — the more the better — and I don’t think that situation violates the letter of the rules. Technically there’s no payment. The thing that bothers me is that it doesn’t violate the rules.

I know anglers who have friends, acquaintances and contacts at every place we fish. They get very specific information (waypoints) that put them on the best places to start fishing. They’re getting this information outside the 30 day rule and they aren’t paying for it so everything is legal. But is it right? Are we anglers, or are we information gatherers?

To be fair, the majority of the guys who are doing this aren’t winning. Most of the waypoints they’re getting are known to other anglers. They’re more or less public. The winners are developing their own patterns and spots. That gives them the edge. Their fish are just a little bit bigger.

But still, you can catch a pretty good sack if you have 30 or 40 of the best spots in your GPS unit. Let’s face it — if you know how to correct for magnetic and satellite errors, you can find a basketball in most of the lakes we fish. Waypoints are powerful pieces of information.

What if we had a rule that before you launch to prefish on Monday morning a B.A.S.S. representative had to clear the waypoints from your electronics and make sure your chip is blank? Smart phones and tablets with waypoints in them would be illegal, too. And yes, that rule would include waypoints you developed yourself.

If you found a spot once, you should be able to find it again. That’s especially true if you have a general idea where it’s at. Besides, there’s no other practical way of enforcing a rule like I’m talking about.

We’re supposed to be “elite” anglers. Why shouldn’t we be made to find our own spots and our own fish? Tournament results and Bassmaster Classic berths shouldn’t be determined by who knows the best anglers. They should be determined by who is the best angler.

What do you think?

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Not at all sure how you're ever going to prevent tournament anglers from talking to anyone familiar with upcoming water.  How about removing ALL electronics from the boats?

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13 minutes ago, Choporoz said:

Not at all sure how you're ever going to prevent tournament anglers from talking to anyone familiar with upcoming water.  How about removing ALL electronics from the boats?

I am not opposed to this idea of removing all electronics from the boats in some cases or tournaments, or even part of a tournament event. It would really put the responsibility of catching fish back upon the fisherman himself and what he knows and what he can do using his brain which is how it all started in the first place.

It seems like what Greg is saying is that because of technology we are getting too far away from just fishing and he is just raising the alarm on how it is becoming a problem as he sees it.

But I hear ya about getting fishing information anyways from locals or whatever. But if it is only stored within the mind of fisherman when he arrives to fish, would that really be a bad thing or within reason? Something like that would probably have to be allowed as long as it remains within a human element and not stored on electronics.

I really would not mind seeing some tournaments or days within tournaments where it is fished without electronics. It would be interesting indeed to see how much it changes things...

But is Greg Hackney right in saying this sort of thing should be written into the rules to prevent the growing problem?

I like how Greg closes up his piece:

"What if we had a rule that before you launch to prefish on Monday morning a B.A.S.S. representative had to clear the waypoints from your electronics and make sure your chip is blank? Smart phones and tablets with waypoints in them would be illegal, too. And yes, that rule would include waypoints you developed yourself.

If you found a spot once, you should be able to find it again. That’s especially true if you have a general idea where it’s at. Besides, there’s no other practical way of enforcing a rule like I’m talking about.

We’re supposed to be “elite” anglers. Why shouldn’t we be made to find our own spots and our own fish? Tournament results and Bassmaster Classic berths shouldn’t be determined by who knows the best anglers. They should be determined by who is the best angler."

I really have to agree with him on this subject.

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The concern has nothing to do with electronics, there is no way they can be removed. The is gaining intel that others do not have access to and he has a great point. They should be allowed to only fish areas they find themselves, not spots they were handed. But enforcement would be next to impossible.

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Yeah and take away the topo maps too..... :rolleyes:

Rick Clunn just reversed his opinion on it and says he's at a disadvantage for not collecting the info....  with that kind of money on the line i would do anything within the limits of the regulations to gain an edge and push me onto the podium....  after all, greg said it, what they're doing is legal.

 

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He's not the only one to make comments about pro anglers 'getting help'.  Unfortunately, there's not really an effective way to enforce restrictions on information sharing.  The point about all waypoints being erased at the start of official practice is interesting, but it would also eliminate waypoints an angler would find 'legitimately' from past years or the allowed pre-practice times.  

Aaron Martens is one angler that I've seen several times publicly state that he never gets 'help'...Everything he does is what he finds on his own.  I don't think other anglers are breaking rules by getting whatever help they can, but it does make me respect guys like Martens a little more.  

 

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The "playing field" in any competitive senario should be level for everyone. Unfortunately the ones who feel the need to gain an edge aren't really doing anything wrong as he said. What was interesting is that the one who seeks out and use "inside information" really don't have that much of an advantage "the majority of the guys doing this aren't winning". 

For that reason alone I don't see anything changing.

 

Mike 

 

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I would have a hard time trusting information I recieved from someone else to begin with.  I suppose that a practice day would allow testing for validity of that information given.  But then again maybe you waste practice time tracking down what they gave you instead of finding your own information.

Do we erase the moemory of a angler who has fished that lake in previous tournaments?  They have an advantage over a rookie.  How about watching previous years tournaments on a particular lake?

If only information committed to memory is allowable, Then is it a memory contest or a fishing contest?  

Would you ban maps and compasses?  Plenty of fisherman used those long long before the advent of gps.  A bit more time consuming but you could mark spots that way.  

I think a depth finder and a few practice days help negate an outside knowledge gained.  

Ultimatly part of fishing is information gathering, at least in my opinion.  

 

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The way I look at it is this................over  the coarse of a season (at least on my local level/home lake) guys that rely on "spots" they were told about by other people will crush a couple big bags each year, the rest of the time they will be donating to the rest of us that actually know how to fish..,...it all works out in the end. Let them get their info, it becomes quite obvious in a short time who these people are and what they are doing. You just have to be mindful that at any given day, their spot could be on, and there is nothing a guy like me who just flies by the seat of his pants and fishes the moment can do about it.

As a tournament director, I have had complaints from other guys in the tournament, and have been ticked myself at these guys, but babysitting a spot every tournament, all day is not against the rules, so it is what it is. Nothing I can do about it as a tournament director either. I can take matters into my own hands and be poor sport and go and stick every fish off these spots that I possibly can the day before, or give out the waypoints at sign up to everyone in the field and fiddle with boat draw numbers so the "waypoint wonders" don't get the chance to get there first, but that kind of stuff goes against what I am all about, so I just deal with it.

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Gathering information has always been a huge part of bass fishing at every level & with the advent of the World Wide Web is has become even bigger.

I can Google most any popular body of water and get real time reports from blogs and forums, from those sources I can put together a pretty reliable game plan in advance to pre-fishing that body of water.

I can also get waypoints offline from many Pros and guides; take for instance the up coming Elite event on Toledo Bend. Tommy Martin has a "chip" with close to 50 years of waypoints.

My solution, get rid of all on board electronics including cell phones, then make em go ole school with only flashers and paper maps!

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Very interesting premise.  I like it.  Times are a changing and it may be time to update the rules to reflect that.

 So I Agree 100 % ~ along with not planting brush on a site before hand. (what's up with THAT ? ! )

There's no need to erase waypoints.  On the first practice day, contestants arrive with their personal unit removed, then an official simply plugs in a tournament provided blank (no way points or cards) unit to be used for the contest. Of course contestants would not be allowed to simply plug in a pre-loaded card.

Another option may be to offer a choice; either follow the above procedure or the contestants that choose not to are not offered the opportunity to practice - At All.  Just show up - select one of your "special way points" & have at it.

Anglers who start out with the blank unit would obviously be allowed to store spots during practice.

A-Jay

 

 

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They should be allowed to have the same info and tools available to weekend anglers. Electronics available in stores and knowledge from prior trips to that body of water. Nothing special or secret information from locals not available to everyone.

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I think the question boils down to "how do you obtain the best probability to find the fish?"

Waypoints, sonar, maps, Google Earth, locals, friends, other pros who fished the place, tackle shops, marinas can all play a roll in finding the fish. To try to ban speaking to locals will be almost impossible.

You can use any and all information but you still have the find the fish and have them bite your bait.

So I don't agree with Hackney's proposal at this time unless he  and his people can prove that local anglers' information actually aided a pro in locating and catching the fish.

What I would like to have banned is having the pros pay a local to do their prefishing during the dead period before a tournament and report back each day with the results. You should have seen the "unknowns in their Rangers" fishing the Chickahominy River before an open on the Historic James River. These guys were not friendly; worked like robots; and fished all over the place; dressed in nice kakis and it was all business to them. This was about a week before the tournament on a week day.

Will be interesting to follow Greg's suggestion when presented to B.A.S.S. and FLW.

 

 

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My question would be how many of these spots could you find with your own research given the prevalence of info on the internet?  

I also think the majority, if not all of us, are fishing tournaments for fun and to maybe make some cash n the side.  When fishing becomes your meal ticket the stakes are raised and things get more serious.  I personally don't see a problem with people talking to people they know to get info.  I mean if i am going to a new lake and ask someone for some spots is that any different because my network is larger or because i have more clout if i was an elite level angler?

As far as the electronics things go, clearing them out is silly as there are people like Ike who says he goes through topos and marks hundreds of waypoints based on what he sees, should that not be allowed to?

Just go out there and fish and see what happens.

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Although it is a huge part of the professional bass fishing world, I would love to see electronics removed for at least one tournament to see how they did comparatively. I also agree with A-Jay about just showing up with an empty card so everything thing you learn during practice is your personal information.

I think there is a big difference between a waypoint on a map and someone simply telling someone information. For example "Hey Greg, you know where we put in at Grand Lake last year. If you keep going back to the east about a half a mile you will see a 15 boat covered dock that has brush all around it that is loaded with fish." Comparatively I feel like one is way different than the other. Then again I don't know how you would regulate that without empty their cards before practice or the start of the tournament.

Also didn't Casey Ashley win the classic last year from information about an underspin technique his dad told him the week before? 

Another idea is for an angler to keep their personal waypoints they take a five pound deduction for his stored information.

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I like this topic.  I fish without electronics but I only fish one body of water.  My success comes from my knowledge of fish and of the body of water.   My knowledge of the body of water comes from previous experience (mine and others).

So so long as a fella goes about gathering information within the rules I think it's good practice.  Information is knowledge and knowledge is how we fish.  Knowledge on the biology of fish.  Knowledge of fish behavior. Knowledge of the body of water.  Knowledge of baits and tackle. We all use information to be better anglers and catch more fish.  Gathering information is extending ones knowledge and therefore, in my mind, part of fishing.

if I am fishing a tournament than you can bet I will be seeking information on that body of water.  Maps, Google earth, locals, previous years tournament records, anything available and within the rules.  I would not miss a practice day either.  However, I think it is poor ethics to ask an individual to only share information with me and not with others who come seeking it.  I would not however ask only the most obvious locals.  

I propose a hypothetical scenario.  Myself and Roland Martin make a friendly wager to fish lake okachobee.  Give all things equal except for his knowledge based on years of fishing this lake and me never fishing it before.  Who has the advantage?  Clearly he does.  Would it not serve good purpose for me to try an level the playing field by talking to locals? 

Please do not confuse my words.  I am not proposing that myself an Roland Martin are truly equals when it comes to fishing.  I proposed a hypothetical scenario which that was true.

 

 

 

 

 

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I suspect it goes   farther than just gaining information .You're a sponsor . You want your guy to win so you can sell your merchandise . How easy would it be to send a couple of fellows too a location  too prefish for a tournament . 

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