Faces of the ECBC | Steve Levi, Video Judge
May 29, 2013 | Sam White
Making the call on whether a billfish be scored as a release during a tournament is a tough and often thankless job. But despite the stress levels, it’s also intensely rewarding for those judges who have dedicated themselves to the concept of catch-and-release billfishing.
When points differ between species and tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars could be on the line, it’s good to know the person doing the judging has the experience and qualifications to make an accurate ruling.
We spoke with Steve Levi recently who, along with Dewey Blaylock, does the release video judging for the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. Here’s what he had to say about his background, his experience with being an observer and release verification judge, along with tips for release videos:
How long have you been fishing and judging releases?
“I started my saltwater fishing career with my father in Dauphin Island, Alabama and it escalated to chasing marlin and sailfish in the Gulf of Mexico and internationally after that. I started as an observer in 1995 in the Boy Scout tournament on St. Thomas—this was before the IGFA started their official observer certification program where I later served as an instructor. I’m the video verification judge for several of the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club tournaments and have been with the ECBC almost every year since it started. Over the years I’ve reviewed hundreds of videos that have been worth tens of thousands of dollars.”
What makes for the perfect release video review?
“For Dewey and me it only takes about five minutes to review a video if it’s set up correctly and the video is rewound to the start of the action. We need to have a good look at the fish, and that means getting the pectoral and anal fins in case we need to tell if it’s a white marlin from a blue marlin. We also need to see the angler, the tournament designator, the official release where the mate touches the leader or the knot hits the rod tip, and the GPS with the date and time of release, all in one clip. That would be the perfect video review. We call it video verifying, not disqualifying—we want everyone to get their points for a release, so if it takes a little extra time that’s fine with us.”
What are some common mistakes people can avoid when they’re shooting release videos?
“Some problem areas are things like an unclear shot due to water spots or condensation on the camera lens—always keep it clean! Then there are having different shots on different cameras: the release is on one, the tournament designator on another one and the GPS on the third camera. Try to get everything you need on one camera and in one shot without turning it off and on again. Over-zooming and moving the camera around too much is another issue. You’re a lot better off to keep it on a wide angle and stay in one place to make sure you get the shot.”
A Note from the Writer…
I wrote an article last year called Video Verification – Shoot to Win. Now would be the perfect time to give it a review!
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• For more information about the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic visit our website: www.fishecbc.com.
• To contact the Tournament Director email Shawna Harris or call 850-267-6168.
• Use the following link to download an entry form: 2013 Entry Form.
The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic is hosted by Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and presented by Mojo Sportfishing Gear.