On Monday, B.A.S.S. — sponsor of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship scheduled for the second consecutive year this September on Mille Lacs — formalized a new rule that goes to the heart of placing fishing skill first in their competitions.
(Also in Mille Lacs news: As of June 20, anglers there “harvested’’ 31,769 pounds of Mille Lacs walleyes out of a quota of 44,800.)
Dubbed the “no info’’ rule, the new regulation dramatically tightens restrictions already in place for B.A.S.S. Elite Series events that limit qualifying anglers from being on a fishery that will host a competition for 28 days before the start of practice fishing on that lake.
Additionally, beginning this week with the announcement of cities and waters that will host 2018 Elite Series competitions, participating anglers can’t solicit or intentionally receive information about how to fish those waters or where to find fish in them.
Two 2018 tournament sites are in states bordering Minnesota. The June 21-24 competition will be on the Mississippi River, headquartered in La Crosse, Wis., and the June 29-July 2 contest will be on Lake Oahe (a first for that venue), centered in Pierre, S.D.
Already B.A.S.S. conducts arbitrary lie detector tests and other inquiries of its competitors. At the 2016 Bassmaster Classic held in Oklahoma, Trevor Lo, a Minnesota college student who qualified for the Classic, was pulled over randomly — as were select other anglers, also randomly — by officials for routine questioning as Lo and I finished a day of tournament pre-fishing.
Beginning this week, anglers who already have qualified to fish next year’s Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina are prohibited from acquiring information about that fishery. The rule also applies immediately to anglers as they qualify for the Classic throughout this year.
Under the new rule, anglers may still practice on a tournament lake until 28 days before official practice, but from the time the schedule is announced, as it was this week, they cannot have the help of anyone familiar with the fishery.
It’s unclear whether the rule prevents anglers from viewing satellite and underwater images of a fishery and forbids them from cruising the internet for information.
“This new rule is supported overwhelmingly by the Elite anglers themselves,” B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon said.
The rule does not apply to the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year tournament scheduled for Sept. 14-17 on Mille Lacs but will apply to that event next year.
The Mille Lacs event last year was won by Minnesotan Seth Feider.