*Photos Courtesy James Overstreet, BASS.
As if the NateGate flap wasn’t enough, it seems that B.A.S.S. has stepped in another pile of poo, this one smaller and a little less smelly, albeit. At first glance, you would think that Tommy Biffle was fishing on the other side of a buoy line in the photo. You would be correct. Tommy plainly stated on BassFan (Bassfan.com) that he was pulling his boat up to the buoy line and throwing over to catch basses and take home the big wood. Kudos to Tha Biff for winning an ultra tough event on the Arkansas River. But, Big T, fishing OVER the buoy line? How did he get away with that? Seems that he got the okay from Tournament Director Chris Bowes to do just that – fish over the buoys.
How can that be? I’m not real sure. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Trip Weldon, Chief Exec TD for B.A.S.S. say “treat it like a brick wall." Any out of bounds area “treat it like a brick wall." Any line of buoys that is there to keep boats out you “treat it like a brick wall." Period. So why was this instance different? According to the BassFan story, Biffle told Chris Bowes that the buoys were there to keep boats away from the Fort Gibson Lake dam (duh), but that it wasn’t a “no fishing” area. Uh, yeah. I can see how other competitors in the area would have mistaken the area as being out of bounds, even though there is no signage.”Treat it like a brick wall." In fact, I’m trying real hard to think of any other buoy line that is in place to keep boats out but you are still able to fish beyond.
Would this not be the same as a line of buoys marking a swim area? The buoy line around a swim area, some of which are marked “No Boats”, some not marked, is there to keep boats out. Doesn’t say anything about no fishing in the swim area, so can you cast into the swim area? Is there a law somewhere that says we can’t fish in swim areas? Someone help me out on that one. That might be a good question for the TD at the next pond where there are swim areas. Hey, we might all be passing up on a few bites.
The only thing I could find in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Fishing Regulations on the subject of fishing below dams stated “It is unlawful to enter, swim, wade, operate a boat or a float or floating device in any safety zone (the water area below any dam for a distance of 50 yards from base of the dam).” Nothing about fishing inside the safety area. From the photo taken off the Fort Gibson Dam, it appears that the buoys are well beyond the 50 yards as stated in the ODWC regs. There may be a US Army Corps of Engineers reg on this subject, but I would strongly suspect that if there were such a reg, there would be a monstrous USACE sign on the bank warning the public as such. Those guys are pretty good about that.
Kudos also to Biff for asking C. Bowes about the area instead of taking the chance on explaining after he was protested, which you know he would have been and probably was. I thought it was pretty crafty of him to wait until just before take-off on the first morning. I have to scratch my head and wonder why Tommy didn’t ask about this at the registration meeting Wednesday evening. Timing and presentation are everything. But hey, this ain’t Biffle’s first rodeo.
Also from the Open at Muskogee comes some scuttlebutt about aluminum boats and/or jet drives on aluminum boats being clipped from competition in at least the Elite events and perhaps the Opens as well. Really? Let’s work this thing through here. Bass Pro is a sponsor of B.A.S.S.. Nitro is/was (I couldn’t find them listed on the Bassmaster.com website) a sponsor. Tracker Marine, all wrapped up somewhere in between BPS and Nitro, is the largest retailer of aluminum boats in the WORLD. Do you really think that tin boats will be kicked out of B.A.S.S. derbies? I’d throw a dollar down on that not happening for a while. Just a wild guess.
K-Pink down with a buck.