FLW canceled the second day of their season-opening Costa event on Lake Okeechobee when one of the angler pairs did not return safely to the Day One check-in. I’m not there, and I don’t know all of the pertinent facts, except that at the time of this writing (9am eastern on Friday morning) the boater has been found and the non-boater has not.
Based on what little I know, I give FLW a lot of credit for taking this bold step, but I also really want to speak out about the quality of character that the fishing community has shown in this time of crisis. I’ve often contended – in public and in private – that we have a large number of complainers among our ranks. If you start a tournament at 6:30am, there will always be a contingent who loudly assert that safe light was at 6. If you make a certain area off limits, or don’t make it off limits, there is invariably grumbling that the decision should have gone the opposite way. But in the case of this potential tragedy at Okeechobee, I have not heard one iota of complaint. Social media has been filled with anglers offering information or help and commending FLW for making the decision to alter the tournament schedule.
Perhaps there is some dissent behind the scenes – competitors saying that they traveled a long way, spent a lot of money, and aren’t likely to help the rescue effort – but I haven’t seen or heard of any. That’s encouraging, a sign that most if not all of us see the big picture over the need to catch little green fish, and that sometimes the right decision, even if difficult, can also be popular.