Here is Rick Clunn's take on this matter from BassFan.com
Clunn Thinks No-Info
Is Best For All Levels
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
No-information might be the way to go for tour pros, but what about tour rookies and anglers fishing below the tour level? They need it too, said Rick Clunn.
"A lot (of anglers who get help on tour) are young and see the older anglers doing it so they think they have to do it too," Clunn said. "That's another bad thing about (allowing help). We're teaching young anglers the wrong way (to fish tournaments).
"A lot of young anglers are getting by by the seat of their pants and are starving to death, but have talent, especially in the potential context," he said. On the other hand, "a lot of guys have their own jobs, own their own businesses, or for some other reason have the ability to spend weeks fishing before an event and hiring local help.
"Talent is not the ability to catch fish," he noted. "It's the ability to find fish on your own. That's the bottom line. I guided for 15 years, and I had clients who when you put them on fish could catch as many as I did and I fished every day. But if you said, 'Go find them,' they couldn't find them if you filled their bathtubs full of fish."
So as everyone knows, help boils down to being put on fish, an issue which Clunn said hasn't gotten any better in the nearly three decades he's been on the national scene.
"When I got into it I thought (the help issue) would get better, and it hasn't. It's kind of regressed in the last 5-6 years," he said.
"It was a dream of mine when I got into the sport (to compete on a level playing field). I was naive. I thought that eventually if I got good enough I could compete against (other top pros). I always dreamed that it (would be) my ability against yours.
"For me, every other sport had some catch to it. I wasn't as big, as fast or as strong. And in NASCAR and that kind of stuff, you might not have the backing. But fishing was the one sport, no matter what your financial or social status was, if you had the mind, the passion and would commit yourself to developing these different skills, it didn't require anything more than you learning to catch fish better than someone else. To me that was neat. It truly was the one sport that didn't discriminate against anyone."
But that wasn't true, which is why Clunn said he understands the issue of help from a young angler's point of view: He experienced it. When he arrived on the national scene, people told him "you can't compete against Roland (Martin) and Bill (Dance) because they're hiring the best guides on the lake" at each tournament stop, he said.
"So everybody was telling me I couldn't do it. And BASS was like FLW sort of is now. Finally Ray Scott put in an off-limits rule, and even Bill Dance said he couldn't compete against the other guys. What he meant was, 'If I can't go out on the water with a good angler (to practice), I can't compete with guys who are doing it on their own.'"
But competitors were still getting help. "What I realized was that the only thing I had control over was my own ability," Clunn said. "I don't have control over what these other guys are doing. The only thing I asked for was a level playing field, and that's what we're talking about here. It's the first time we've ever had a level playing field.
"That's why I'm tickled to death about the new BASS rule. It's a quantum leap forward as far as the effect it will have on the sport in the long run. If that rule stays in, you'll finally see the talent go up in the sport the way it should. It will weed out guys who are using local help as a drug. And the truly talented guys, who know how to find fish on their own, will displace them."
A "level playing field" sounds good when it comes to no help, but there's also the 30-day off-limits to think about. How do rookies feel about the combination of the two? BassFan asked two anglers who were tour rookies this year: two-tour rookie Dave Lefebre and Bassmaster Tour rookie Chad Morgenthaler. Lefebre is from Pennsylvania and Morgenthaler is from Illinois, and were picked because it was les likely that they had fished any of the tour stops.
Lefebre said the 2003 Bassmaster Tour mostly no-info rule "didn't really hurt" him. "I don't get information anyway. But the (30-day) cutoff hurt me because I was fishing both tours. I had to pick which one to practice for. In most of the BASS tournaments I either got one or two days of practice, and that hurt bad.
"I had time off (between events) where I could've hit those lakes, (but it was) during the off-limits," he noted.
"I think it hurt me. Guys who have fished those lakes before have a definite advantage. But at the same time I don't like having lakes open the whole time. I like a cutoff. I just think maybe it shouldn't be so long or something."
On the new rule, he said: "I like it a lot, but I just wish they could enforce it."
Morgenthaler said the 30-day off-limits affected him "a lot" this year. "I hadn't been to any of the lakes we fished, and just learning your way around is hard. I did try to go to some of the lakes ahead of time, when time permitted, but of course the fish weren't patterned the same (as in the competition). All you could do was look around.
"So it hurt me, but there were times when it helped, when you kind of develop a pattern while it's actually happening. And you can only do that close to the tournament days. That's when it benefits you the most."
On the new rule, Morgenthaler said: "The guys who have been doing this for a long time obviously have the upper hand going in. But if they do adhere to (the no-info) rule, that levels the playing field better. But a lot of guys who fish the tour work together, like me and Roger Boler, and when you get experienced guys together it doesn't take them long to get on something. Experience means a lot."
He added: "Personally I wish they'd go to no off-limits. That would pretty much level the playing field as far as I can see. So many guys can pick up the phone and call 20 guys to find out what's going on, and I feel like if you can get a week on the water before the tournament, you have a pretty good feel for what's going on."
To rookies who feel that they're at a disadvantage with the 30-day off-limits, Clunn said: "Anybody that tells you that doesn't understand what this sport is about. If you're doing it the right way, it doesn't matter if you've never been on that lake. If you're doing it the wrong way, you have a point."
What are the right and wrong ways? Clunn won't say. "The ones who know, know. The ones who don't will never know."
Opens, Aluminum Bats and Your Soul
Clunn also feels that the rules should apply to the Bassmaster Opens, which this year went to no off-limits.
"Opens are where all the young guys are coming from," he said. "All the rules should be consistent or we're teaching young guys to do it the wrong way and then the big leagues are a reality check. We need to start them the right way. That will weed out (the ones who can't hack it)."
What about the fact that several sports have less-difficult rules in leagues a step or two down from the pros? For example, baseball allows aluminum bats in college. Clunn said such things are "minor adjustments," not "big inconsistencies" that have "the potential to destroy your self-reliance and self-confidence.
"That's what a lack of that rule does. The worst thing about (having no-off-limits and allowing help is that it's) a thief that will eventually steal your soul, metaphorically speaking, and your self-confidence. Even if a guy puts you on a winning bag of fish, you know in your heart where it came from, and that will steal your soul."
Tim Horton, who also likes the rule change, said he thinks getting information "can hurt people" -- including himself, when he's relied on information he's received. "I'm opposed to (help), but I'm not saying I never got it because I have," he noted.
But he said that "part of the learning process of coming up through the ranks is networking and talking fishing, and there's nothing wrong with that. But when you get to the Tour and E50s, the guys on that level should be doing it on their own."
> Clunn said he doesn't even recommend sharing information between competitors. But if you do it, he suggests not talking to any of your running buddies until practice is over. "On the night of the last day of practice, which hopefully was no more than 3 days, sit down and go over the patterns you have or haven't developed," he said. Waiting until then "allows you a freedom of expression to pursue your ideas and thoughts freely without being aborted prematurely. A lot of guys -- and I'm talking from experience because I've been there -- talk on the lake. You bump into someone and say, 'You doing any good?' And he says, 'Yeah, I got 8 bites.' So you're thinking, I better establish this pattern that so-and-so is on. But you might have been on a pattern where you caught two fish, but didn't go ahead and fully develop it. That's the danger of talking to anybody. Go out and do everything you can to make it work yourself. Then, if that doesn't work, compare notes before the tournament starts. Then maybe you do or don't need to change. But anything before that never allows you to be you."
> "Roland Martin is the only person I've seen (where help) could benefit a person and not hurt him," Clunn said.