Changes show how many bend the rules
Winter isn’t over but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The spring equinox is a little over a month away and with it will come warming and, hopefully, more fish. Even now, it is obvious that the days are getting longer and that has to be viewed as a positive.
The offshore scene continues to be spotty; the fluctuating weather doesn’t help, but when boats do get out they usually manage to come up with something worthwhile.
Trolling is the technique and as this is effective on pretty much all species it also allows more area to be covered. Wahoo remain the mainstay although there have been very few yellowfin caught. Some of the wahoo have been quite nice, with 50-pounders and better being the norm. Numbers tend to be small, but at that size not too many are required to make the effort worth it.
Well, it seems there is no end to the lengths that some people will go to cheat or, if not quite that extreme, bend the rules. The International Game Fish Association, which is the governing body for angling, has had to add a modification to the rules.
The rule basically stated that anyone other than the angler touching the rod, reel or line once the fish has been hooked up was grounds for disqualification. Nowhere in the current rules is there anything said about anyone else touching the angler. People were allowed to hand things to the angler and so forth so long as the gear was not touched.
The IGFA has now found it necessary to add the following: “Holding or touching an angler in a manner that assists them in fighting the fish or takes pressure off the angler. Touching or briefly holding the angler to prevent them from falling does not constitute a disqualification”.
The mere fact that such an amendment is required strongly suggests that there have been cases where an angler may have received significant help without anyone else actually touching the gear. Someone must have been pretty creative to come up with something that helped the angler to the extent that it had to be outlawed.
Obviously, the powers that be are not going to tell the masses, lest everyone start looking for ways around the rules. But possibilities may include something like “heaving and hoping” the angler in a chair when he or she was too tired to pump the rod on their own. Not the most comfortable way of accomplishing that which must be done, but one that might be effective. Doubtless, other such forms of assistance may be thought of, but it really does say something about the mindset of some people.
Another change to the rules which many will view as positive has to do with the use of backing. While this really only applies to true big-game fishing and fly-fishing, where the line presented to the fish will be attached to something different, the intention is to make the weakest part of the line that which defines the line test category.
The minimum eligible weights for fish have also been changed. This is as much a conservation measure as it is to enhance sporting ethics. The new requirement is that for line classes up to 20lb test, the minimum weight is one-half the line test.
For heavier line classes, the minimum eligible weight is equal to the line class. Any existing records will remain even if they do not comply with these new rules. It is interesting enough to note that most local tournaments have long had similar requirements for fish to be eligible. Another example of Bermuda practice leading the way.
The final set of changes announced by IGFA this past week has to do with species eligibility. Although all-tackle records will continue to be held for all species, nine saltwater species will no longer be eligible for line class, line tippet (fly-fishing) or junior records. None of the affected species are caught locally with the Florida pompano being the only thing that may ever occur here although it is normally limited to waters along the East Coast of the United States down into the Gulf of Mexico. This species is different from what is called “pompano”, locally which are actually palometa. What occurs here is a relative but not the species affected by the rule change.
All these changes to the rules that govern angling and world records will come into effect on 1st April 2017. As is usually the case there will probably be a couple of big disappointments for those who fail to understand or comply with the rules.
Fortunately for most local anglers, the changes have limited application to the fishing that is done here. Those who are that deeply into the finer aspects of angling will make their changes while everyone else can go along, just as they have for years, enjoying their Tight Lines!
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