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FLW DQs Florida Pro from FLW Tour Opener

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A third professional bass angler has been disqualified from the FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee starting Thursday, Feb. 5. Brandon McMillan  of Clewiston, Fla. was DQed for violating Rule 5 of the FLW Tour rules (read the full rule below).

The rule violation was said to be inadvertent. McMillan practiced with a co-angler he thought was on the waiting list.  It was first reported that the co-angler was on the waiting list. That is NOT TRUE. The co-angler Cal Clark never signed up to fish the FLW Tour event. McMillan fished with him for three days during the official practice. Clark should have known he was not a legal contestant in the event. Practicing with an unapproved person in the official practice period has been a rule violation for a long time in the FLW Tour.

Here is the full account from FLW as of Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014:

Yesterday FLW announced that  Brandon McMillan  of Clewiston, Fla. was disqualified from the 2014 FLW Tour season opener on Lake Okeechobee. McMillan was disqualified for violating FLW Tour rule No. 5, which contains provisions restricting who pros and co-anglers can practice with. Specifically McMillan practiced with Cal Clark of Pulaski, Tenn., during the tournament’s three-day practice period. While Clark fished the FLW Tour as a co-angler in 2013 and had earned priority entry for the 2014 season, he never entered the 2014 FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee or any other 2014 FLW Tour event.

“Some people have speculated that Clark was on the waiting list for the Lake Okeechobee tournament, but the truth is he never entered,†said FLW Tour tournament director Bill Taylor. “He never registered for the event, never paid a deposit, and never received a confirmation.â€

Clark was a competitor in the Rayovac FLW Series Southeastern Division season opener on Lake Okeechobee in January.

“This is tragic for the McMillan family, just as it was for other pros who inadvertently violated the rule,†said Kathy Fennel, FLW president of operations. “In Anthony Gagliardi and Frank Clark’s case, they inadvertently ran afoul of a new provision in the rule that restricts who pros can fish with 30 days prior to the first practice day. In McMillan’s case, the violation, while inadvertent, is the result of a longstanding provision that limits who pros can practice with during the official practice period leading up to the tournament.â€

Here is the complete text of FLW Tour Rule No. 5:

5. RESTRICTED ACCESS, OFF-LIMITS, PRACTICE AND COMPETITION •  Thirty days prior to the first practice day pros are only permitted on tournament waters alone or accompanied by a contestant in the tournament, a member of their immediate family (mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild or spouse), approved sponsor representatives, approved youth age 18 or younger or approved media representatives. With prior approval from the tournament director, pros may participate in FLW, B.A.S.S. Elite Series, B.A.S.S. Opens, PAA and other pro/am tournaments featuring random partner draws within the 30-day window. Tournament waters will go off-limits to all contestants 13 days prior to the first practice day in all tournaments. Contestants, including pros and co-anglers on the waiting list, may not enter tournament waters to fish, test equipment, sightsee, or for any reason without FLW permission, during the off-limits period. During the off-limits period, practice and competition days, pros may not solicit and/or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except pros confirmed in the tournament and through publicly available sources (quasi-public websites, blogs and/or social media pages set up for the specific purpose of sharing information with individuals or a small group of individuals are NOT publicly available sources). Beginning with practice and extending through competition, pros may not obtain information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from co-anglers or information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from noncontestants or follow a noncontestant’s boat or participate in the placing of markers by noncontestants or the practice of “hole sitting†by anyone. Anglers eliminated after each round of competition are considered noncontestants. Pros in the top-20 cut after the close of weigh-in on day 2 may not solicit or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except other top-20 pros. Pros in the top-10 cut after the close of weigh-in on day 3 may not solicit or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except other top-10 pros. Co-angler contestants who share information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters with pro or co-angler contestants will be disqualified from the entire tournament along with the pro or co-angler requesting and/or using the information. Tournament waters will reopen for practice three days (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) prior to registration day (Wednesday). Pros and co-anglers may practice alone, with another contestant or with a member of their immediate family (mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild or spouse), approved sponsor representatives or an approved youth age 18 or younger, provided the practice companion has also observed the off-limits period and procedures. Pros and co-anglers may also practice with an approved media representative. Flights over tournament waters are not permitted beginning with the start of the off-limits period, extending through practice and competition days. Tournament waters will be closed to all contestants on registration day (Wednesday).

Tournament ———— Restricted Access Begins ———– Off-limits

1. Lake Okeechobee ——— Jan 3, 2014 ———-Jan 20–Feb 1 & Feb 5, 2014

2. Lake Hartwell ————— Jan 31, 2014 ———Feb 17–Mar 1 & Mar 5, 2014

3. Sam Rayburn Reservoir – Feb 21, 2014 ———Mar 10–22 & Mar 26, 2014

4. Beaver Lake —————– Mar 7, 2014 ———-Mar 24–Apr 5 & Apr 9, 2014

5. Pickwick Lake ————— May 2, 2014 ———May 19–31 & Jun 4, 2014

6. Kentucky Lake ————– May 23, 2014 ——–Jun 9–21 & Jun 25, 2014

7. Lake Murray —————– Jul 11, 2014 ———-Jul 28–Aug 9 & Aug 13, 2014

“I feel for the McMillans, Gagliardis and Clarks. Nobody likes to see someone disqualified when there is no evidence of ill intent. The fact remains, however, that rules must be enforced without prejudice,†Fennel said. “There is no room for judgment calls on an angler’s intent. That is a slippery slope that we will not go down. Our goal is to make the rules as black and white as possible and then strictly enforce them, which is what we have done.â€

In light of his disqualification at Lake Okeechobee, McMillan has withdrawn completely from the 2014 FLW Tour.

McMillan posted the following on his Facebook page:

“I’m disappointed to say I have been disqualified from the FLW Tour event on Okeechobee. I fished with my practice partner of 2 years who drove down from Tennessee thinking he was confirmed as a co-angler only to find out at registration that he was not confirmed in the tournament. I’m sorry to disappoint my friends and family.”