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Tournament Courtesy - NOT

Or “How not to be a responsible tournament angler”


Moving by the check-in boat on the way to the weigh-in dock, every boat is instructed to move single file at idle speed. My son found himself almost awash a couple of times while “idling” in that line during the recent Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament (GJKT).

We don’t run big boats – 20 to 25 feet is about it. We don’t pretend to run with the big boys – the professional anglers who “work” the SKA and other kingfish circuits. But we do fish in some of these events, and we have the same rights and obligations as every other boat. Those obligations include observing the tournament rules and boating laws.

Maybe it is because idle speed needs to be better defined. Obviously what the big three-engine Contenders and Yellowfins think is idle speed is a lot faster than what most boats consider idle. Whatever the reason, the big, sponsored center consoles with their six-man crews all decked out in matching uniforms generally have no regard for the smaller non-professional boats. You get the feeling that the little guys just get in the way of their “business”.

Every year it happens, and every year someone says they need to do something about it. But, like every other year, it slips their mind and life goes on. This year something really needs to be done.

I say business because at the launch ramp around 3 AM one of our boats could not even launch because so many pros had launched and were blocking the ramp, tied up and sitting around in their big, flashy rigs, shooting the breeze and tying rigs under their bright spreader lights. When we politely asked one to move we were told, “No, we are working here.”

Working? Does he realize that the entry fees from us little guys helps pay the bill on tournaments like this? Obviously not.

On the way out the inlet that morning, we were almost swamped as two 30 plus foot center consoles buzzed by both sides of our 23 foot boat so close that we took spray from both of them into our cockpit.

Back to the weigh-in line. It is about a four mile idle from the check-in boat to the scales, and as per tournament rules, idling single file is the order of the day – that is unless you are one of the big boys. Sponsored boat after sponsored boat idled ahead of other boats in line and cut in, trying their best to get to the scales before everyone else.

The tournament VHF channel 72 was a buzz of complaints, but those complaints went unheeded. Tournament committee boats along the way seemed to turn their heads to the obvious and blatant rule violations. Could it be they did not want to ruffle the feathers of the “pros”?

So this year, it has happened once again, and I suspect nothing will be done to correct the behavior of these “pros” who obviously never learned in grade school to wait their turn.

I will say that one boat was nailed during the two day Yamaha event that went on simultaneously with the GJKT. But, a committee boat didn’t nail him – he was nailed by a protest from another boat for a violation of the no wake zone. His forty plus pound king was disqualified that day.

Hey SKA!! Hey GJKT! Hey Jacksonville Marine Charities! Are you guys listening? When are you going to police the majority of your “pros” regarding safe and courteous boating? Lots of us are fed up with what goes on right under your noses. Are you that naïve or simply closing your eyes?

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