Home > FLW, Opinion > Safety should have been the Pros’ Responsibility at the FLW Red River Event

Safety should have been the Pros’ Responsibility at the FLW Red River Event

David Dudley strongly believed conditions were unsafe to fish. (Photo courtesy of Rob Newell, FLW Outdoors)

Two articles this morning from the Shreveport Times indicate that canceling the Red River event was hardly a “no-brainer” decision.  The articles indicate that Chad Mogenthaler and David Dudley led a group of about 100 anglers that were in favor of canceling the event.  Apparently the group was so adamant and vocal that they left Charlie Evans with no choice but to cancel.  Here are links to the articles:

Part of the allure of the sport is that it pits man against nature.  Anglers are challenged to catch fish in conditions that the typical recreational angler would never fish in.  Anyone who has fished a tournament in less than perfect conditions recognizes the extremes these anglers go through to catch those little green fish.  We admire their grit.  We admire their determination.

For the real fan of the sport, tournaments with tough conditions are the most exciting to watch.

David Dudley and company put the FLW leadership on the spot and left them with no choice but to cancel the event due to liability reasons.  The FLW’s hand was forced due to co-angler safety.  It is a shame.

Apparently those in favor of canceling were able to successfully argue that tournament conditions would be totally different than practice conditions.  They argued that they were able to practice for three days in the same high water, but once the tournament starts it would mystically become unsafe.

The truth is that if the conditions became unsafe it would be because the pros made it unsafe.

PROBLEM: Hitting an object and losing power to outboard motor.

SOLUTION: Drive slower and more cautious.

PROBLEM: Falling in cold water causes hypothermia.

SOLUTION: Wear life jacket while fishing.  Don’t fall in cold water.

PROBLEM: Swift water might pull boat over dam.

SOLUTION: Don’t go near dam.

PROBLEM: Other ramps are closed on river.

SOLUTION: Stay close to ramp that is open.

PROBLEM: Swift current on main river unsafe.

SOLUTION: Don’t enter main river.

PROBLEM: Channel Buoys are under water.

SOLUTION: Drive idle speed only.  Be careful.

If the conditions are unsafe it is up the boater to take responsibility for the safety of the co angler.  If that means staying in the marina and never cranking the big motor—then so be it.

This is a problem that effects the sport from top to bottom.  You have all seen the examples.  There are mornings when the fog is thick and running conditions are not safe.  People with common sense could fish the bank until the fog lifts.  But the Tournament Director has to delay the tournament because there is that one hot shot that will take off through the fog and jeopardize his safety, the co angler’s safety, as well as any innocent bystanders that happen to be in his way.

In the era of Gortex anglers can fish through just about anything.  Every pro should have a cell phone, VHF Radio, flare gun, and first aid kit in their boat.  Tournament officials know what time the angler is supposed to return.  With these safety protocols, the odds of spending the night in harsh conditions are minimal.

Hopefully one day someone will develop a way to referee competitors that doesn’t require a co-angler or marshal to physically be in every boat.  If that ever happens bad weather cancellations and postponements will become even more rare.

One thing is for certain though—you can’t question the competitive drive of these anglers.  200 anglers were willing to go brave the harsh conditions and tough bite.  The remaining 100  showed a different type of competitiveness.  Those 100 stood up and said that if you put them on the water they are going to play all out regardless of conditions.  Sacrificing fish for safety is not an option for that group.

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