Dave Lefebre – Dead Fish Disagreement

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I really think the dead fish penalty should go away, and not just because it has cost me personally thousands of dollars and an AOY title. I absolutely commend Ray Scott for creating it, let there be zero doubt that it was needed back in those days. The penalty has also been responsible for many great inventions over the years to help protect our tournament fish. But in 2011, I think it’s time that we move on. Professional bass fishing has been stuck in a rut for so long and the 8 ounce dead fish penalty is simply unfair to everyone and too steep, especially on lakes where 8 pounds is a good bag.

I understand the reasons it still exists today, but only one of those I except as legitimate, and that has to do with the animal rights activists. The pro tournament organizations must demonstrate to those ridiculous activists that they are serious about keeping fish unharmed and thus must penalize competitors for dead fish, I get that. But my point is that most every time I have a dead fish, it has nothing to do with something I did wrong. Most of the time I know before I even put the fish in the live-well that its chances are not good for survival. If leveling the playing field is our goal, then this penalty obviously needs to be changed. Should a great fisherman be penalized because he made his lure look so real that a bass choked on it and died? …May sound funny or even ridiculous, but it happens.

You may say that the dead fish penalty is ok because it’s the same for everyone, but that would be inaccurate. It’s not the same when your factory installed live-well pumps quit working in the middle of the Forrest Wood Cup or BFL All-American, but Billy’s happens to work fine all day. Oh, too bad, you caught more weight than Billy, almost 2 pounds more, but Billy didn’t have 4 dead fish…Billy wins! And you just lost $500,000. Ooops, did I say $500,000, I meant $550,000, because a couple other guys passed you up too.

Of all people as a whole, bass professionals care more about the bass than anyone on the planet. We are not trying to kill our fish. If the need to demonstrate discipline must exist, I think there are many other directions bass tournament organizations could move.

I’ve talked to a lot of other fisherman over the years about this topic and I’m not alone. Unfortunate things happen in every tournament, things that are completely out of our control, equipment fails, fish swallow baits… that should say it all. If you catch a 3 pounder, you should get 3 pounds for it…simple. Maybe a small fine could be instituted for dead fish? That could be a positive thing for everyone involved, it would satisfy the activists (if that’s even possible), give the pro his proper points, and give the tournament organizations some bonus bucks.

My opinion.

Other than all that, I finished 30th in the 2011 Cup on Ouachita. I had higher hopes than I’ve ever had in a tournament, so I’m extremely disappointed in my outcome. But I believe that God has a plan for my life and I trust Him and follow Him. He knows what He is doing, sometimes we just don’t understand or have difficulty accepting things and I’m guilty of that. We need Him, He is real!