By Capt. Kevin Deerman
Over the past years of tournament fishing, I’ve noticed one thing is surely certain: People will always voice their ideas on tournament rule changes. This tendency is especially true when it comes to rule changes that they believe will benefit themselves or their teams in some way. When I first began competing in tournaments, people were arguing that boats that took charters or professional crews shouldn’t be allowed to fish. This argument was proposed, coincidentally enough, after we won a certain event a couple years in a row.
The professional crew rule is pretty much a standard in many tournaments nowadays, but who is to say what constitutes a “professional angler?” Just because a person is payed a full-time salary on a sportfish boat doesn’t make him any better than an owner’s buddies who fish every event on a boat (as well as many fun fishing and practice days throughout the year).
There has also been talk of separate lure fishing side pots in a few of the Gulf of Mexico blue marlin tournaments. Some fishermen have gone so far as to suggesting the elimination of live bait fishing completely. They argue that live baiting kills more fish and targets more of the big females. I would agree that more of the big females are targeted with live bait, but isn’t that kinda the point when you are fishing big money tournaments?
These tournaments bring huge crowds and economic support to the local communities. The number of blue marlin that are harvested in these few tournaments is insignificant compared to those that are killed commercially. This is not to mention that we don’t come anywhere near the allowed quota on marlin for recreational fishermen in the U.S. Besides, the alternative to targeting large marlin to weigh would be hanging a bunch of a little ones?
That can’t be good.
An additional argument against live baiting is the claim that it produces a higher mortality rate than lure fishing. While I would have agreed with this claim in the past, the use of circle hooks has dramatically increased the survival rate on all billfish now. It is tail wrapping that has resulted in a greater need to revive marlin (fishing with lures and live bait) – more than deep hooking or any other reason.
While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, overall, I believe that tournaments in the Gulf of Mexico are doing the best they possibly can to keep everyone happy. Tournaments split the monies between release pots and weighed blue marlin pots, allowing everybody to participate in whatever manner they wish to fish. I’m all for adding “Lure Only” categories if it increases participation, as long as we don’t start trying to eliminate live bait fishing all together.
– That’s the report from Texas!
Do you have any comments or questions for us? We’d love to hear from you.