With the many Pro and Team Tournament events now available on the
West Coast, sport fishermen need to be appraised of various rules
and regulations. However, the major organizations have some rules
in common, and one of these important rules is encroachment.
(Etiquette of a Professional Bass Fisherman)
by Richard H. "Hookpoint" Thiel
Encroachment means honoring and maintaining
space. In other words, anyone violating a
specified distance in relation to another boat can be asked to
leave, in which case the fisherman will have to back off to the
organizations identified distance. Each organization has its own
distance that must be maintained between boats, and this can vary
from 25 yards to 100 yards. To determine the encroachment
distance, merely ask the attending director before the start of
an event. To avert potential problems, the attending director
will be more than happy to provide this information, believe me!
Most tournament fishermen are well disciplined
and are out for the fun of the sport. However, by not adhering to
the basic principal of encroachment some individuals can cause a
big concern to the sport, to the boats they are approaching, and
to the tournament director. They know who they are!
I've run across encroachment infringements in
conversations, seen it, and have been approached to make
judgements about it as a tournament fisherman since 1974 and past
director for 6 years. I've even been challenged about
encroachment in a tournament. A mental approach can help you
overcome the endurance of the subject, and different situations
require different solutions.
One way I have learned to help avoid encroachment
problems is to pre-fish the lake before a
tournament. I therefore should have a clue about what's going on
at the site of the event, and then I go home and set everything
up to win. The weekend of the tournament and I enter. I'm on
fish!... If my draw is boat no.1, great. I blast off and I go to
;my No.1 hole. I'm on it and catching fish, but another boat sees
me and comes over and tries to barge in on my fortune. If the
fisher is truly a sport, that person will stay within the set
distance. If not, the fisherman could be disqualified for
encroachment if the violation is reported. In reality, no one
wants to report another fisherman. Solution: ask him or her to
back off, leave, or be disqualified. If done in polite fashion,
problems may be avoided --Now, let's reverse this situation.
Let's say, for example I draw the last the last boat out. I get
to the first hole and I find that a boat is sitting on it. What
do I do? If the fisherman is someone I don't recognize, I can
first ask if they or he is in the tournament. If the answer is
yes, I can move on, because as a tournament fisherman I should
have at least 3 to 8 backup spots. The backup spots may require
different techniques, but there are few alternatives. If all else
fails, you can come back later to see if the boat is still there.
In another situation, a boat may
be sitting on my pre-selected spot, but the boat isn't part of
the tournament. I don't want to ruin his or her day, so I ask the
person in the boat first if I may fish behind them ( never pull
in front, as this is a good way to start a bad situation).
Someone who is not a part of the tournament may just let you have
the hole if they know you're in a competition. Talk to him or her
and make them feel comfortable with you there. Also, if he or she
looks new to the sport, make some suggestions about what to try
if they're not catching fish. If they're fishing for something
else, it's a judgement call and it's best to say "Oh
Well" to yourself and go on.
As a fisherman true to the sport, it is necessary to remember
( in most cases) that others may have pre-fished the lake also,
and have invested time on the water in hopes of winning. For you
to come in and encroach on their spot may cost you in the
tournament as well as down the road. Most encroachment rules are
broken during a team event, but very seldom at pro events
(although it has been known to happen).