By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
B.A.S.S. announced on Wednesday that it has upheld the disqualification of 7th-place finisher Tucker Smith's Day-2 weight in the recent Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula. The ruling will drop Smith's final standing in the event approximately 140 places.
Here is the brief three-paragraph statement issued by B.A.S.S. regarding the DQ and Smith's subsequent appeal:
B.A.S.S. officials announced today that, after an extensive investigation and appeals process, Tucker Smith’s Day 2 catch disqualification from the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula has been upheld. Smith finished in seventh place.
The disqualification was handed down based on a violation of the Angler Code of Conduct (Section 7 of the Bassmaster Opens Series rules) which lists among the examples of unacceptable behavior by competitors in B.A.S.S. events: “Interfering with a fellow angler’s ability to compete.”
Smith’s appeal was heard today by a three-person panel which included an Elite Series angler and a Bassmaster Opens angler — neither of whom competed in the 2023 Eufaula Open — and a B.A.S.S. employee who is not part of the Tournaments Department.
The 21-year-old Smith comprised half of the duo (along with Logan Parks) that claimed the $1 million top prize in the Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships in November 2021 at Table Rock Lake.
Little of the specific evidence that B.A.S.S. used for the initial DQ ruling or the upholding of it has been made public. At least some of it apparently centers around the actions of Joe Durham, an Albany, Ga. lawyer who's a friend of Smith's and has competed in team tournaments with him in the past.
Durham was on the water on Day 2 at Eufaula and verbally harassed a competitor who fished near Smith, alleging that the competitor was infringing on Smith's water. Driving a wrapped boat that appears to be one that formerly belonged to the late Aaron Martens, Durham profanely berates a competitor believed to be Hugh Cosculluela of Spring, Texas in a video that's been widely distributed on social media. Durham threatens to drive in circles around the competitor's boat if he doesn't depart, then concludes his tirade by falsely claiming to be longtime Eufaula tournament ace Ryan Ingram.
A couple of days following the conclusion of the tournament, Durham posted a 7-minute video to his Facebook page in an effort to explain and/or justify his actions, but it's since been removed. Some of the people who distributed the on-the-water video on their social media channels have claimed that Durham has threatened to sue them for defamation because the clip doesn't include the entirety of what transpired during the encounter and thus lacks full context, and a photo of a letter written on the stationery of Durham's legal practice posted by one of those people seems to back that up.
Smith caught 17-10 on Day 1 of the event and 23-05 (the weight that was DQ'd) on Day 2. The tournament was shortened from three days to two due to foul weather on what would have been the middle day.
Had he not incurred the DQ, Smith would have earned $11,250 for the finish.
To see the video of the incident, click here. Warning: the obscenities are numerous.