On every Major League Fishing boat, there’s a professional angler who’s rushing to reel in the most bass, there’s a videographer capturing the action, and there’s an MLF official who’s making sure the anglers follow the rules.
MLF Officials are much different than the marshals that you see in other bass fishing tournaments. Their work begins long before the lines go in the water, and doesn’t stop after the final fish is weighed.
Competition Crew Chief Dan Hayes said, “First and foremost, it’s important that the boat official knows the rules and that he calls the game accurately and consistently. Our role is to weigh the fish and record them accurately.”
Once there’s a fish in the boat, Hayes says the boat official will call out the weight for the angler. Then, the MLF official will record it on a manual score tracking sheet. Finally, the MLF official will enter the score into the SCORETRACKER™, which is the live in-boat scoring system.
He says there will be 15-18 officials at every competition because there is so much happening on the sidelines while the anglers are fishing. If a boat official isn’t weighing fish and calling out penalties for an angler, they may be in a backup boat ready to jump in if there’s a mechanical problem. Hayes says other boat officials will work with television production crews to shoot promotional videos.
However, Hayes says one of the most important roles of an MLF official is taking care of the MLF boats. Boat officials are in charge of towing the boats to and from the MLF Headquarters in Tulsa, Okla., where the boats are stored. After the day’s competition, boat officials are in charge of preparing the boats for the next day of fishing.
“It’s the boat official’s responsibility to clean those boats, to make sure they’re fueled, make sure they have oil,” Hayes explained, “And more importantly, make sure those graphs are cleared off. All the waypoints, all the trails that the angler might have put on there during that day of competition.”
Professional anglers have Lowrance units on board that they use to mark waypoints during their ride-thru. They can return to their waypoints dropped during the ride-thru during a competition or chose entirely new areas to fish. At the end of the day, Hayes says the MLF officials have to clear all data from the Lowrance units so it isn’t available to the angler who uses that boat the next day.
Naturally, Hayes says the most rewarding part of being a boat official is working alongside some of the best anglers in the world.
“Being in the boat with them, being able to watch what they do, is very, very important,” Hayes said.
He says he’s even become good friends with some of the pros. But when he’s on the water as an official, Hayes says it’s all business and he has to call any penalties when he sees them.
“When we’re in the boat, we are the official,” Hayes said, “We’re calling the game. Even though we’re friends with the anglers, it’s important that we hold them to the same standards, regardless of which angler we’re in the boat with.”
Do you think you can handle the responsibility of being an MLF official? MLF officials must live near the MLF Headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma because they use their own vehicles to haul the competition boats to each event, and they go through regular training at the main office. If you are within 100 miles of Tulsa, you can contact us to get in touch with MLF and express interest in joining our team of officials.