With the growth and proliferation of tournaments, conflict with non-tournament anglers is likely, especially on busy weekends on lakes and rivers. Some conflict is impossible to control, since tournament anglers are frequently blamed for discourteous actions by any one fishing from a tournament style bass boat, whether or not he/she is competing in a tournament.
Nevertheless, tournament contestants should be reminded to show courtesy and consideration to other anglers at all times. Contestants especially should avoid driving their boats too near other boats, “crowding” other anglers and acting as if they have a preferential right to fish a spot.
Care should also be taken not to obstruct boat ramps and other public facilities in ways that would hamper their use by other fisherman and boaters.
The success of any sport in terms of both participant appeal and public image is often related to the good conduct or sportsmanship of competitors. Underlying the spirit of fair play are codes of ethics or unwritten rules which guide conduct. A number of such “rules” or ethics have evolved in tournament bass fishing over the years.
Organizers of tournaments should not only recognize or be aware of such rules, but actively promote them at tournament meetings. These guidelines are largely unenforceable and also can be thought of as “gentlemen’s agreements” to preserve the integrity of the sport. Yet adherence to them is essential for the conduct of an enjoyable, orderly and fair competition.
With the advent of high stakes competition many “hot spots” or productive fishing areas quickly draw a crowd after their locations become known to competitors (and other anglers). A contestant should not go back to his partner’s fish unless the partner gives his permission to do so. And if one angler is catching bass in a certain area, other contestants should honor his spot and seek other places to fish.
In most draw tournaments, each contestant has control of the boat and selection of fishing waters for one half of the fishing day. A discussion should be held prior to the check-out to determine the distribution of the fishing time. Compromise is occasionally necessary and should be worked out in advance. One way to avoid conflict is for both contestants to agree they are competing for the bass - not against each other.
When each contestant in a draw tournament wishes to take his own boat, the two anglers should try to reach agreement on which boat to take. Failing that, a coin toss may be necessary to decide the issue.
In discussions of where to concentrate their fishing activity for the day, each partner should be as candid as possible about the quality of fishing in the areas he has found in practice. An accurate appraisal of fishing locations and the times at which they are most productive is essential to the success of both partners. The day can be planned accordingly after these factors are discussed.
It is customary for contestants to share boat operating expenses. The angler riding in his partner’s boat should offer to pay at least one half of the boat operating cost, including gasoline, for that day’s fishing. This discussion also should take place prior to the fishing day.
Tournament organizers also should stress that each angler have an equal opportunity to cast to productive, unfished water.