Rods, reels, lures, electronics and other tools of the trade are givens for gaining a competitive advantage in tournaments. So is access to digital content like videos and photos on resources such as websites and social media.
It is all part of the information age in which we live, and B.A.S.S. has rules in place to discourage competitors from seeking outside information to gain a competitive advantage beyond the true essence of catching a bass, which is casting a lure into the water and using mental and mechanical skills to make it bite the bait. Here’s how the rules cover this topic:
Rule C3 (xvi) states:
“During the official competition days of the tournament a competitor may not make cell calls for the purpose of locating or catching fish on tournament waters. Cell phones may be used for emergency situations. Under the direction of B.A.S.S. officials, competitors may use smart phones for BASSTrakk purposes to include obtaining unofficial scores during the tournament day. Competitors are allowed to call lockmasters for locking purposes only. Competitors are allowed to use smart phones for global maps, weather, power generation, tidal charts, notes, etc.; however, using smart phones during competition to log into daily tournament blogs or participate in social media is not permitted.”
On Bassmaster.com some anglers, when they got off the water, also viewed photo galleries and videos from Bassmaster LIVE. The content sometimes displays lures used by top contenders and in the background, the habitats they are fishing.
Complaints from anglers and feedback from the Elite Series Advisory Board resulted in a clarification of the rule-- to make very clear the boundaries of using digital media during the tournament.
“We are not instituting a new rule about this situation,” stated Dave Precht, B.A.S.S. vice president of communications and publications. “As was announced in updates to anglers, we are clarifying an existing rule, (C3 xiv).”
The intent of the rule is preventing anglers from using videos, blogs and other news content published during the tournament for the purposes of locating and catching bass.
“Apparently, some interpreted the phrase, ‘during the official competition days,’ to mean during fishing hours only,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director. “The restriction was meant to apply to all hours of the competition days, at least until an angler is cut from competition.”
Weldon continued, “Simply stated, anglers cannot use any social media, videos or website coverage to gain a competitive advantage. We will clarify the language in next year's rulebook, but for the time being, briefings and other explanations should clear the air.”
Weldon further clarified the rule at the official tournament briefing on the eve of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by Econo Lodge.
He told the anglers that uploading content to their digital platforms like social media pages are allowed, if promotion of themselves and sponsors is the intent. What is not allowed is viewing of content to see what other competitors are using, and doing, to catch bass during the tournament.
Bassmaster.com provides continuous live coverage of Elite Series events. Photo galleries are published to the site within minutes of a takeoff, and those galleries are updated during the day. Add the blogs, videos and stories and the digital coverage spans a tournament day from takeoff through weigh-in.