Frequently Asked Questions
What is the IGFTO?
The International Game Fish Tournament Observers Organization is a 503 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is made up of approximately 200 active members, most of whom are experienced Captains, Mates, and Anglers. The Directors and Board Members of the IGFTO are elected every two years and serve on a volunteer basis.
How do I become an Observer?
Tournament Directors require that each Observer take an Observer Training Course (OTC). The IGFTO is the only organization regularly conducting this course.
Where can I take the Observer Training Course?
We conduct OTCs in various locations both in the U.S. and abroad. We post the schedule and location for OTCs on our website (igfto.org). Visit our training schedule calendar here:
What are the requirements to become an Observer?
We do not have any "cast in stone" requirements for membership other than offshore fishing experience. We like to see a history of bill fishing.
What will I learn from taking the OTC?
The course includes the following content:
IGFA angling rules for saltwater fishing;
What is the IGFTO;
Best practices for Observers;
Photos and videos of Sailfish and various species of Marlin; and
Insigtful / helpful information from other Directors, Observers and / or Guest Speakers that [may] be in attendance.
Is there a fee to take the Observer Training Course?
Yes, the fee is $250. For this fee you receive the following:
IGFTO membership for the year;
One Observer dress shirt (to be worn at dinner);
One Observer work shirt (to be worn when observing);
One Observer log book (to record releases);
One Observer buff (facemask to protect you from the sun);
One Observer lapel pin;
Internet access to Billfish Identification and IGFA Rules downloads; and
The total value of these items is $500. You save $250-half off.
Is there a waiting period after taking the course before I become an official Observer?
No. You are an official Observer the moment the course has concluded.
Is there a test I have to pass?
Yes. There is a brief test on the key parts of the course to make sure you were awake throughout the program. The test is self-graded.
Are there any other requirements to becoming an Observer?
Yes. You must be physically capable of observing on a boat. This means the ability to stay alert throughout the entire fishing day; and the ability to quickly transit from the bridge to the cockpit and back when it is necessary in order to call a release. You must have enough boating experience to be confident that you will not become sea sick under rough sea conditions. You must have enough fishing experience to know the difference between a Sailfish and a Marlin.
Once certified, how do I get chosen to observe in a tournament?
The Tournament Director contacts the IGFTO and specifies the number of observers needed. An IGFTO Coordinator emails a “Call for Observers” to the entire IGFTO active membership. Observers sign-up on a first-come first-served basis.
How do I know what’s expected of me if I sign up for a tournament?
The tournament Observer Package will be posted on our website in the Member's Only area. It will include information regarding the tournament schedule, housing, food and drink, compensation/offsets, and any other details to help you get back and forth from the tournament.
Do Observers get paid? If so, how much?
We provide our own expenses for airfare, and in some cases local transportation, to the various locales. Some tournaments provide housing and others provide offset monies for housing expenses. As an example, the Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Billfish Tournament supplements an Observer $500 for three consecutive days of observing.
The majority of tournaments include observers in all tournament activities such as kickoff parties, dock parties, and awards banquets. Many observers make arrangements to fish in the pre, post, and lay-days of the tournaments.
What does a typical day of observing consist of?
5:00 a.m. boat assignment and breakfast provided by the tournament
5:30 a.m. report to your boat
6:30 a.m. boat departs the dock to fishing grounds
8:00 a.m. lines in
12:00 p.m. lunch provided by boat
4:00 p.m. lines out
5:00 p.m. boat docks, turn in your scorecard
Who decides which boat I observe on?
The tournament director makes that decision.