By Captain Scott “Fraz” Murie
Up in the Gulf of Mexico, over in the Bahamas, and just about everywhere there is a marlin tournament, there is a captain’s meeting. It’s either the night before or sometimes just hours before the boats are allowed to depart for the fishing grounds. During the captain’s meeting, you can usually enter an optional cash awards division (calcutta).
You can bet on the largest marlin, tuna, dolphin, wahoo or the most tags and releases. The tournament director announces on the loudspeaker it’s time to go over important fishing rules. He welcomes everyone to this year’s event. He also thanks all the sponsors of the tournament. The director then says, “The IGFA rules apply to this tournament. Are there any questions?” Sure enough, some googan will raise his hand and ask a stupid question.
For instance, “What if the fish eats two baits and we fight the fish on two rods? Does that count?” (Here’s your sign!) The tournament director replies, “No. IGFA rules only! That means the angler must hook the fish with no assistance, bring the rod to the chair, and be the sole angler of the fish, without anyone touching the rod, reel, or line except the angler.”
I agree with IGFA rules. However, how do you monitor such rules without observers? It’s very hard to do. Should the honor system be trusted when tens of thousands of dollars are on the line? One might be tempted to overlook the fact that the mate handed the rod from the cover board to the fighting chair.
One year, in the Gulf of Mexico, in an IGFA tournament, a little 10-year-old boy that had never been fishing before caught a 700-pound class blue marlin to win the tournament. I think it’s awesome for the little boy. What terrific memories were made that day, but I also think it’s highly unlikely he grabbed the eighty wide out of the cover board, moved over to the chair, crammed the rod butt in the rod gimble, and climbed in the chair to fight the fish unassisted.
If you listen closely on the dock after the tournaments, you’ll hear mates talk about the fish they fed twice before they hooked it. Things like that are not IGFA. There are a lot of crews who fish IGFA tournaments by the book. However, it’s a lot easier for your mate to hook, feed, or bait and switch a fish, then hand it to the angler already sitting in the fighting chair. Everyone out there knows what I’m talking about.
In my opinion, the tournaments should either change the rules or have observers. If no observers are used, the rules should be jungle rules; must be caught on a rod and reel! That way you can assist your young son, daughter, or wife, and not take the fun out of a good day fishing by keeping everyone honest. I could care less if it is IGFA rules. But if it is IGFA, the rules should be enforced.
—That’s my two-minute warning.