Hey Mike,

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Posted by TroyJ on February 15, 2002 at 16:43:14:

Regarding all your comments below, I generally agree, there are good and bad, and the bad make them all look bad, but I still know most of the pros are safe boaters. They are regulated more than any other group on the water, and are more experienced than any other group on the water. They also have the most to lose if they are caught breaking the law. Statistically, they have the lowest accident rate or injury rate by far of any group on the water. More people drown or are injured while fishing recreationally, jetskiing, water skiing etc than in tournament events.

Two things, (lol) it wasn't me who turned in the guy fishing to close to a gas pump. I was on Gville that day, and not involved in the FLW. Probably one of the gas dock attendents or marina people. I fish a lot of tournaments, and follow the rules, but I don't get into "policing" people during tournament events. If I saw someone breaking the law in a truely dangerous manner I'd make the call, but I've never had to call about anglers yet, tournament or non-tournament. I have called twice about jetskiers though, and I will say the Marine Patrol was there with-in minutes, so they will show up if they are called.

Secondly, I kept 4 bass over 3 pounds alive for 6 days in a livewell to test the recirculator system. This was a number of years ago when re-circulators were coming out. I figured if they died I'd eat them, even though I rarely eat bass, but they lived, and were released as spunky as the day they were caught. A little hungry maybe, but still very alive. Innovations in livewells have come a long way, if the water is kept cool and recirulated properly, no telling how long they'll live in a livewell. Hot water or poor treatment will kill them fast though. I've seen some horror sceans at some tournaments with fish kills, but it still pales in comparison to the number that are taken for food, poached, or mishandled daily and die from delayed mortality. My new livewell system is 48 gallon and uses a 4 pump system. Most new boats are well equipped to keep fish alive for long periods of time, so long as the angler knows how to treat them. Again, long periods of time in weigh-in bags are a bad deal, but bigger trails have addressed many of the problems, and are correcting the problems. I've never been a fan of off-sight weigh-ins, but usually it's down to the final 5 or 10 anglers by then, and the number of fish transported is minimal, so the impact of any dead fish on the fishery is nill. The live release rate is very high, so even my arguments against off-site weigh-ins may no longer be valid.

On another note, in some events a dedicated release boat is used. These fish are put in tanks on the boat until they recover, and are transported to various parts of the lake for release, solving the problem of "stocking" the ramp area. They'll release a few in different locations, which I think is the best deal yet where release is concerned.

The vast majority of my clients are non-pros, so I don't have any financial interest in sticking up for the pros since that's not where my money comes from, but I've also ridden with some of the top pros, and some of the wannabees. I'm sure there are valid concerns with some of the individuals, but there are a lot of misconceptions about the trails as a whole. My first loyalties are to the protection of the fisheries and to safe fishing. If I thought pro-tournament fishing was threatening to the future of fishing, I'd be the first to call for a ban on tournament fishing, but looking at all the groups on the water, I don't see tournament fishing as a problem. Some issues need to be resolved, but no more than with any other group on the water.

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