The Ruling Class will Continue to Rule

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On the advice of the advisory board of anglers, B.A.S.S. has changed the Elite Series “no info” rule for 2018. As soon as next year’s schedule was announced, anglers were not allowed to solicit or intentionally receive any information about the fishing on the waters on the 2018 schedule. They are still allowed to be on those waters until 28 days before the start of the official practice period.

Like the vast majority of the anglers and fans I’ve spoken to, I think it is a good rule and a step in the right direction. Is it 100 percent enforceable? Probably not, but no rule or law is airtight. Overall, to borrow the popular wording, I think it levels the playing field. It also adds an additional veneer of legitimacy to the sport.

Clearly, in the history of professional angling, there have been anglers who have gotten information legally, illegally, and in manners that adhered to the letter of the law but probably not the law’s spirit. Information gathering, both legal and illegal, has changed the outcomes of individual tournaments, and this rule may silently have that same effect, but if you expect to see a massive change in the standings you’re going to be greatly disappointed. No one is consistently at or near the top of the heap in this day and age simply because they’re good at hoarding information.

We’ve seen major changes implemented in the sport before – both the abolition of co-anglers and the rule requiring Elite anglers to use the same boat all season come to mind – and none of them have caused a major upheaval of the leaderboard. If there’s been a perennial 80th place finisher who suddenly jumped into the top 10 because of a rules change, I missed that story, and I follow this about as closely as anyone. Conversely, if anyone was a world beater before the rule changes occurred and then suddenly forgot how to catch fish when co-anglers got banned, or access to their aluminum boat got limited, I missed that one, too. This rule may impact tournament success more directly, but I still don’t expect any total surprises. It might impact an event or two, but even the most ardent waypoint bandits and gatherers are still likely to revert back to their career averages.