DFG Permits Drawn for 2004

Codified Procedures Ease Process?

(Sacramento, CA) Well, permits for 2004 bass fishing tournaments have been pulled. Seems most everyone got what they wanted or adapted rather quickly to get what they needed. However the process by which the ‘ever important’ bass tournament schedules were filled remains a troubled one.

Dennis Lee, Chief Biologist for the State of California Department of Fish & Game, realized before he started that this ‘new, improved’ method of drawing permits had already been circumvented before the process had even begun. No less than 69 applicants were there to pull Special Event permits for tournaments.

That’s not too bad. Hey, it’s a big state, right?

Only problem is there were 69 applicants to pull permits with another meeting scheduled for lakes south of Tehachapi later in the month. Why so many? Seems it wasn’t hard to figure out that if each organization pulling permits had as many bodies in the room to do so, they’d fill their schedules that much faster. American Bass, WON BASS, California B.A.S.S. Federation, Angler’s Choice, FLW, NorCal Bass, B.A.S.S National and 100% BASS all had multiple agents in attendance, each with a valid pick in each of the rounds of drawing.

Every applicant was given a number and then those numbers were randomly assigned a draft position that changed with each subsequent round. So essentially each applicant had 1 pick in 69. But it was humbling to watch nearly every organization picking multiples dates in each round.

Unless of course if you were Vince Harris, selecting dates by himself for the Future Pro Tournament Trails or Gene Buchholz, there by himself to pick his Hook, Line and Sinker Tournament dates. Folks like Vince and Gene got to sit back and watch anxiously as hundreds of dates went down and they were fearing they’d not have many dates left to fill their schedules.

“Obviously some people have figured out how to work the system again, “ Said Lee.

The FLW guys were there, with local support to make up for body count, to pick a limited amount of dates but were able to do so very quickly because they had multiple people picking those few dates they needed to fill their schedule in the state.

But it doesn’t end there. Dennis explained that, “Each applicant was looked at by DFG as being an individual. You’re the person, if something goes wrong, we go look for.” Oh really! Someone needed to point out that the folks pulling many of these permits were merely placeholders and not true officers of the organizations they represent. If enforced literally I suppose that means that a DFG agent looking in on a 2004 permit should go and directly ask for the specific person named on the permit.

As example, if Bob Peebles, who was there pulling permits for 100% BASS, is the applicant for say a permit for a Lake Shasta team event, does this mean that Bob will be present during the event and recognized as the responsible party? If Bob pulled the permit is he also responsible for the insurances and other formalities to carry off the event? If something goes wrong or there is a need to talk with the responsible party, shouldn’t DFG officials look for Bob? My guess is you’ll find a Bob to talk to but his last name won’t be Peebles.

As an extention of the same example and using the same organization to do so, sorry Korny, what happened when two people are pulling dates for the same region in the same round. Pete Skarda and his wife were both late arriving applicants. Each was pulling permits for the same 100% Coast Region. That kind of made Dennis’ own words fly right back in his face.

Here is his quote, tell me what you think. “The system is pretty straight forward,” says Lee, “It’s based on the concept like the National Basketball Association. The NBA does a system of draws about his time of year. You all became registered and received a number.’

Hold on a second. Don’t NBA teams draw as an organization? Not as individuals. If the DFG were running an NBA draft the Warriors Head Coach would make a pick and then two picks later, in the same round, the Warrior trainer steps up and make his pick for the team and then ten picks later, in the same round still, the Warrior point guard gets to make yet another pick for the team.

Add in that DFG ‘stand-ins’ were picking permits for those that sent their applications in early but couldn't physically attend the meeting. Problem was that it was apparent that the ABA had people in the crowd picking dates so why was it necessary for the DFG stand-ins to also be picking dates for someone in the ABA. Wow, now you can send a half dozen people in to pick dates and you can get a state employee to help you out also.

Because I have a serious want to pick on more than just one element of a flawed system let us also look at who is pulling these permits. Who’s wisdom was it to make the process so that every organization are viewed as equals? Why should a major company be viewed the same as a 15 member bass club? Surely there are major differences in the economic impacts brought forth by these two very different organizations. Not to mention that most of the tournaments that these clubs will hold are carried out under Annual Permits and not the Special Event Permits, which is what the draft was to cover. The annual permits are filled out and sent in the DFG. No one monitors them so it is the norm to see three bass clubs show up at one launch ramp on the same day. Even if there is a Special Event permit pulled, these clubs can show up, unannounced and rain on the more important events day. The holder of the Special Event permit doesn’t have any recourse either.

I’ve seen this happen more than once on Lake Oroville. When the Spillway facilities were closed a while back everyone was limited to where they could launch but there were still a couple of locations to do so. One of the ‘Team Circuits’ was trying to get their people on the water but were crippled by the no less the three bass clubs who showed up to do their club tourney’s all on the same ramps. No one knew they were going to be there, although the club members sure knew it. And there was some sort of pride surging through these guys that they had impacted a tournament organization. Wonderful accomplishment fellas.

Why is it that clubs need special event permits that are carbon copies to what the ‘major player’ organizations are required to use? Why should an organization that makes its living doing tournaments and employs people to do so have to compete with a bass club trying to make it’s memberships expenses in some ‘club fund raiser’ type of event? The two are completely separate concerns, fill separate needs and should be viewed and regulated separately. Government makes such separations all the time. As an individual I’m not viewed the same as Exxon Corporation come tax time. What makes this permit deal any different? Or maybe better put, a Class A drivers license is much different than the other classes of licenses and the two are treated differently, yet all classes of license are monitored in some way. In California, truckers and vehicles with trailers have to abide by a different speed limit than the remaining vehicles on the road. The two are treated differently.

Let’s not even get started on the clubs that are running monthly tournaments without any form of permit at all.

So aside from assuring that no two major events are running on the same body of water at the same time, the ‘complete ‘permit process, both Annual and Special Event Permit, really serves little purpose as it exists right now.

But wait a moment, that is true unless you get a Special Event Permit for the Delta. For some reason it’s okay to run up to three Special Event Permits on the Delta simultaneously. Reasoning being that the permits are pulled for three separate counties,; Sacramento, Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties.

Now if you think like me you have to wonder when River’s End Marina will kick up a fuss and make the claim that they are in Alameda County and that they too should get a shot at a fourth valid area from which to run a tournament on the Delta. Keep in mind, as I’m sure the DFG officials did, that bass boats launching from Ladd’s in Stockton NEVER run to Big Break and vice versa. Naw, that never happens. I still can’t figure out why, just because it touches several counties, someone decided the Delta was safer than other lakes and made it okay to run that many boats out there at the same time.

Oh that’s right, if you have three tournaments on the Delta on the same day it usually means that one tournament had 20 boats, another 25 and the last, if they were lucky had 30-60 boats. Course if one pulls 60 boats one of the others had to pull 15. Or Maybe even less. Since there are normally a finite number of active tournament fishermen on any given weekend, issuing multiple permits for any single body of water does not actually help the different organizations. The end result is usually they feed particpants off of each other thereby reducing the over all experience of all of the events, rather than helping to build the sport.

“The opportunity to change the process always exists”, according to Dennis Lee. Of course to do so means dealing with the Fish & Game Commission and not the DFG. Our state government, being the tightly wadded ball of bureaucratic red tape that it is, can’t just have a Fish & Game Department; you have to have a commission to oversee them as well. And of course there are others over seeing the commission too.

These guys are so lucky I wasn’t responsible to pull permits for a larger organization. It was pretty easy to figure out that all you had to do was have a person in the room for each date you wanted to have an event on and you could pull your entire schedule in the first round.

Nasty person that I am I’d have done it too, just to make a point. The whole process, annual and special event permits, and how they are drawn and monitored, needs a complete overhaul. Codified or not what is in place now doesn’t work.