Elite Series anglers must now be wary of the publicly available websites they visit during a tournament week as a result of the expansion of an existing rule regarding cell phone use issued by B.A.S.S.
According to multiple sources who shared details of the update with BassFan on the condition they remain anonymous because they were not authorized to disseminate the information, competitors were informed last week that a broader version of Rule C3(xvi) was being instituted and would be discussed further at the pre-tournament meeting for the Sabine River Elite Series on Wednesday.
Rule C3(xvi) currently states:
(xiv) During the official competition days of the tournament a competitor may not make cell calls for the purpose of locating or catching fish on tournament waters. Cell phones may be used for emergency situations. Under the direction of B.A.S.S. officials, competitors may use smart phones for BASSTrakk purposes to include obtaining unofficial scores during the tournament day. Competitors are allowed to call lockmasters for locking purposes only. Competitors are allowed to use smart phones for global maps, weather, power generation, tidal charts, notes, etc.; however, using smart phones during competition to log into daily tournament blogs or participate in social media is not permitted.
Included in the explanation was new language pertaining to the phrase “during competition days,” which some competitors had interpreted to mean during the hours encompassing blast off to check in. A B.A.S.S. official indicated the phrase was originally intended to cover all hours of all competition days until an angler has been eliminated from said competition.
The expanded version of the rule now expressly prohibits angler use of online content related to coverage of the tournament (social media, videos, photo galleries, website coverage) in an effort to gain a competitive advantage. What was originally meant to target cell phone use now ostensibly extends to laptop and tablet use while off the water.
“Until you are eliminated from competition of an event, you must not be looking at any photo gallery, video, web site, Facebook, Instagram, etc., that might show what other anglers are doing in that event,” a message from B.A.S.S. to Elite Series anglers stated.
The message went on to say questions regarding cell phone and Internet use during official competition days will now be included during polygraph examinations.
“You should treat the situation just as you would a guy walking up to you at a gas station and trying to give you information: simply shut off the conversation immediately,” the message from B.A.S.S. also said. “If you see a message, website (sic) or other medium contains information about finding and catching fish in that event, shut it off then and there.”
The rule, which will be spelled out fully in the 2019 Elite Series rules, does not prohibit anglers from posting new content to their social media channels during a tournament, but those who do will likely be more cautious about what they view while scrolling through feeds on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
This change comes on the heels of the significant tightening of the “no-information rule” B.A.S.S. announced last year for the 2018 season. Once the Elite Series schedule was announced, anglers were not permitted to solicit information about venues that wasn’t publicly available.