To Bring or Not to Bring
Anglers battle with decisions on the water everyday. Where to fish, how far to run, how much to practice. However, one of the hardest decisions to make is when a team has a good fish that is pushing the maximum length line or has a questionable tail.
The general consensus is, during a one day tournament it's a shoot out, bring in whatever, if it passes, you win, if it doesn't you don't, not a whole lot lost. When fishing multiple day events, 2 and 3 day tournaments, there is a saying
among the anglers, you can't win it on day one but you can sure lose it. Fish too big?
Did it stress on the ride back in and lengthen or did it relax and lengthen, perhaps it was stressed and shortened or maybe by relaxing it shortened.
There is no real science to why a fish grows or shrinks but from the look on some faces, it sure seems evident to them, at times, that the fish they put in their live well at 11 o'clock in the morning is not the same as the one they brought to the scales at 3.
With HT3 Outdoors hands off measuring system, at least the anglers know that no one will be manipulating their fish during the process. Each fish is laid in the measuring station which is built to have have the fish lay on an approximate 30 degree angle letting gravity hold it's nose against the bend in the Check-It measuring board, and a very slight angle forward allowing for the belly of the fish to rest against the front edge of the same measuring device.
See the video (and others) of Phil and Kevin Broussard battling with the decision to bring a fish in with a less than perfect tail here... Videos Here
Once stable and laying relaxed a 3 sided device approximately 3" wide x 1.5" tall is placed over the tail end of the fish just prior to where it's tail starts and is then slid to within 1/2" of the legal, tournament limit for the fish. In Louisiana and Florida the device is slid to the 26.5" mark and in Texas it is slid to the 27.5" mark reflecting Texas' 28" slot limit.
Each fish will only be measured on one side and that will always be done with the fish's belly facing the measuring official's belly. After all if a fish measures on one side but not the other, is the fish a legal fish with a long side or an illegal fish with a short side, HT3 Outdoors removes that questionable factor by only measuring the fish on a singular side and does so by measuring with the head of the fish always to the left of the measuring official and the fish's tail to the right of the same official. In determining if the fish is a good fish or not, the measurement is just 1 of the determining factors.
According to rule 13.01: HT officials reserve the right to refuse any red fish deemed to have been altered, (accidentally or intentionally) and/or damaged sufficiently to make determining the exact length of the fish's overall tail non conclusive. If HT3 Outdoors has to refuse a fish, in accordance to rule 13.01, (as we did twice in the first event of the season) whether or not an angler altered a fish's tail is not the question the question of the fish's tail is strictly, according to the rule, has to be such where determining the exact length of the fish's overall length is conclusive.
Even an angler offering to take a polygraph is not a remedy for a damaged tail, due to the fact the polygraph agent would not ask if that angler themselves altered the tail, he would only ask did you present a fish outside the scope of the rules for weighing, at which point the angler would have to agree, according to the rules, he did present a fish outside the scope of rule 13.01 whether or not he intentionally did anything to the fish.
The anglers fishing the HT3 Outdoors tour have one more remedy when a fish is in question, as Kevin Shaw did in an event in 2011. Kevin caught an awesome fish but had questions when a porpoise or other creature had damaged part of the tail of a good fish off. Kevin took a picture on his cell phone and texted it to tour officials for a ruling. It was determined that the fish would not pass inspection and he released it and kept fishing. Had he brought that fish in it would of been kicked out and his team would of failed to qualify for the 2012 season.
It is hard to look at good guys and have to kick a fish out for being too big, after all how can you have a fish too big? That's like saying you have too much money or a wife that's too pretty, what is this craziness, a fish too big??? But to quote a tour angler, it is what it is and we have to abide by the law and rules.
So know this, when you see anglers holding up big checks and driving off in newly won boats and trucks, a lot goes into it. It isn't as easy as just catching some fish and getting paid. They play by a very strict set of rules and code of conduct and we are proud to provide for all anglers a level playing field on which to compete for cash, prizes and promotion week in, week out.
~The TourNote: The tour also limits the amount of ice a team can put in their live well in an attempt to cool their water and as well inspects the nose of each fish to make sure there is no damage due to dropping a fish on it's nose which could result in a reduction to the fish's overall length.