• Tom Billings

When is enough, enough? Billings asks

Like many of you I am already looking forward to the next year of fishing. This year came to an

abrupt end, one weekend it was 60, the next snow and below zero. Oh well that how it happens

here in the region. This is the time of year when many fishheads start their planning for next year,

it keeps us busy and gives us something to look forward to. This is what I have been doing and

getting my schedule put together for USA BASSIN. Last year I did not fish as many tournaments

and I have to admit it was really enjoyable to just go where I wanted and when I wanted. Well, let

me re-phrase that; go where there wasn’t a bass tournament, when there wasn’t a bass


I guess I haven’t really realized just how many tournaments there are on our local lakes in the

region, and by region I mean from southern Michigan all the way to central Indiana. The Indiana

bass federation has a website that is up-dated with all the club and money tournaments

that people want to put on the schedule. This past year I had to look at that schedule to decide

what lake I wanted to go to. These are just the tournaments that people send into the IBF; I am

sure there are many more going on as well. When does this end? Maybe there should be a

governing body that regulates how many and where bass tournaments can be held. Now I am

not a guy that’s for more government regulations but I have to wonder how much damage is

being done to our lakes. Things like delayed mortality, transporting fish from home areas to weigh

in site, increased pressure and substandard weigh procedures and releasing have me wondering

if enough is enough. Looking at the IBF schedule Lake Palestine has 7 tournaments just in the

month of April! 7 tournaments on one little 290 acre lake! That is excessive to me. Lake Maxi is

another lake that is scheduled for an overwhelming amount of tournaments, as is Wawasee.

I understand that many of these tournaments are small with only a handful of boats but that’s still a

lot of fish that are being put in a live well for hours at a time. From my experience most of the

tournament participants are extremely good at taking care of fish but there are not a lot of

clubs/directors who are good at weighing fish and releasing. Case in point, I went to a smaller

Michigan lake last year to fish crappie with my son. As always, when making my plans, I checked

on the IBF schedule and saw that no tournaments were scheduled on this lake. When I got to the

ramp there was 10 Indiana trailers in the lot so I knew there was a tournament. Sure enough after

getting on the water I found out a club had moved their tournament from a local Indiana lake to this

one. No worries for me I was crappie fishing and did well. At the end of the day when I returned to

the launch I witnessed the releasing of the bass for the day. Several bass were floating belly up at

the ramp and more were just under the surface. I understand fish die, and its happened to me, but

don’t dump them in the lake to be wasted and float around. I scooped several up with my net and

put the ones that weren’t dead yet in my live well with rejuvenate chemicals. Surprisingly, several

perked up and I was able to release them in deeper water. The point is no effort was made to

release these fish back into deeper water (the ramp area is extremely shallow) no effort was made

not to throw a dead fish in the water. I wonder how many times this happens on our area lakes?

Does anyone think that maybe there should be some guide lines and rules to follow for bass

tournaments instead of the free for all it is now? Maybe organizations should have to register their

schedules with the DNR before an event can be held. Would it be a good idea to have a limit on

the amount of tournaments a body of water can have in a given time frame?

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