Disqualified on Douglas

The recent Bass Pro Shops Southern Open on Douglas Lake was an enigma in some ways.

It was actually the first B.A.S.S. pro event where an angler won fishing the dreaded Alabama Rig. There were those who thought the rig would be the end-all last season, and it took an entire year for it to prove some sort of worth.

The verdict is still out whether the rig, known by loving names like the “Flying Minnow Bucket,” or the “Chicken” and even the “Stupid Rig,” will continue as a force in the Opens. Many of us hope it won’t.

The rig, though, provided another bit of drama that was both great and terrible at the same time.

Terry Segraves, a longtime professional, was disqualified on the final day for using one of the Flying Minnow Buckets with too many hooks. In Tennessee, you can only have three hooks on an umbrella rig. Anglers in the event were throwing five-armed rigs, with two of those in the mix as “dummy” lures with no hooks.

Segraves, who is a consummate, trustworthy professional, broke off his three-hook rig, grabbed one with five hooks (all of them presumably smart, or with hooks) and started wailing away on the final day.

That was a foul. It cost him a decent chunk. And it proves to the world that even consummate, trustworthy professionals can make a bone-headed move. So where is all the “great” in that “terrible” scenario?

The greatness comes from the fact Segraves’ co-angler reported the infraction. It would be easy to overlook that after such an interesting event.

As a long-time Bassmaster reporter, I frequently get the question: “How do you know they aren’t cheating?”

How do you relay to a skeptic how utterly honorable the majority of these anglers are, and have them believe it? Even the mere mention of wrongdoing can send you down the tubes, whether you mean it or not. Ask Nate Wellman for an update on how that turns out.

I can remember the golfer who turned himself in because he had an extra club in his bag. The club was a child’s club and could no way impact that player’s round. But he disqualified himself because it was simply against the rules. That little thing put the honor of professional golfers on national news.

I can also remember Shaw Grigsby disqualifying himself for simply listening to a co-angler tell how he caught a fish, and Rick Clunn disqualifying himself out of a top five spot because he inadvertently had a landing net in his boat. Skeet Reese turned himself in for a sixth fish in the livewell with a win and Classic berth on the line. Most of the time those little honorable acts don’t get enough attention.

Segraves wasn’t even close to cheating. He just made a mistake. He got his just punishment. His final-day weight was wiped out, even though no one could ever really prove that having five hooks as opposed to just three made all the much of a difference. That doesn’t matter. It was against the law, therefore against the rules.

Fans of this sport, B.A.S.S. and anyone willing to pay attention, got to see just how our sport is supposed to work. That co-angler or that Marshal along with the pro is the eyes and ears, the rules keepers and the conscious of our sport.

It worked perfectly at the Southern Open.