Just wanted to make sure everyone saw this. Scott
DFG made right call to cancel bass tournament
By Terry Knight -- Record-Bee outdoors columnist
Article Last Updated: 08/21/2007 11:01:27 PM PDT
The recent cancellation of an American Bass Association (ABA) tournament at Clear Lake and the jailing of the tournament director by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has rocked the bass fishing community.
To my knowledge, this is the first time a bass tournament at Clear Lake has ever been canceled by the DFG, and I'm sure this is the first time in California that a tournament director has been arrested.
The ABA team event scheduled last Sunday was canceled by DFG game wardens, who also placed tournament director Steve Adams of Rancho Cordova under arrest. The reason for the action stemmed from a Clear Lake team night tournament that Adams had run last September. In the days following that tournament, a large number of dead bass were found floating near the weigh-in site at Library Park in Lakeport.
The DFG worked out an agreement with ABA whereby the organization could continue to hold bass tournaments on the lake just as long as Adams wasn't the director. In fact, the DFG has in its possession a letter from ABA stating those conditions and ABA's agreement to abide by those conditions. That all changed Sunday when game wardens learned Adams would be running this tournament.
The DFG has taken a lot of undeserved heat from tournament fishermen for canceling Sunday's event. During a meeting with fishermen entered in the tournament, some of the fishermen were downright insulting to warden Lynette Shimek. To her credit, Shimek maintained her cool and explained to the fishermen why the tournament was canceled.
Shimek said Adams told her that he wasn't informed by ABA that he couldn't hold tournaments at Clear Lake. Shimek said she will check into that and if it turns out Adams is correct, then the DFG may consider dropping charges against Adams. Of course, if Adams is telling the truth then that would put ABA under the gun with DFG. Shimek added that Adams was very cooperative with game wardens.
To ABA's credit, the organization has run good bass tournaments at Clear Lake. In fact, it was ABA that donated the release barge that the Clear Lake Bassmasters use in major tournaments. The Clear Lake ABA tournament directors are Ed and June Clarke, owners of the Tackle It tackle shop in Lakeport. They run excellent tournaments and take good care of the fish.
Shimek said DFG will closely monitor future major bass tournaments held at Clear Lake.
"I fully support bass tournaments and the fishermen, but we have to protect the resource," Shimek said.
While I know a lot of tournament fishermen disagree with me, DFG's recent actions are long overdue. I attend the weigh-ins at most of the tournaments and lately some of them have left a lot to be desired. Often the bass are brought to the scales with little or no water in the bags, plus there are often as many as 25 fishermen in line to weigh in fish. This all puts an incredible amount of stress on the fish. It should be noted that some of the tournament organizations do conduct good tournaments.
Along with a permit, the DFG issues guidelines to be followed to protect the fish. For example, rule 6 states that "Bass shall not be held at any time without sufficient water to cover the fish, except during the actual measuring/weighing process. Fish shall not be held in plastic bags longer than three minutes prior to or after the weigh-in." That rule is violated all the time.
Studies have shown that if a bass is out of water or deprived of oxygen for longer than four minutes, it can suffer brain damage. This in turn can cause delayed mortality. That is why the three-minute requirement is placed on tournaments.
Rule 11 states: "On Clear Lake all bass shall be released at least 2 miles from the weigh-in site and 400 yards offshore." That's another rule that's routinely violated. However, Shimek said she is going to recommend that rule be changed so fish can be released closer to the weigh-in site.
Tournament directors are paid anywhere from $10 to $15 per boat from the tournament organizations. Out of that money they must pay their staff and provide meals and motel rooms for staff. The problem is that many tournament directors operate with a minimum staff in order to make more money for themselves. In the end, with a minimum number of staff working the tournament, the fish end up being placed under stress.
To sum it up, the DFG isn't the bad guy in this. The DFG is here to protect the resource. One would expect tournament fishermen to be the first line of defense in protesting a tournament weigh-in that is poorly run, but in more than 20 years of covering bass tournaments for newspapers on Clear Lake, I have rarely heard tournament fishermen complain to a tournament director.
That's all going to change now that DFG is keeping a close eye on the tournaments and their directors. The word is out. If you run a bad tournament, don't come to Clear