A peek at pro bass fishing [video]
Anyone who is willing to tie up tens of thousands of dollars in a boat simply to fish bass tournaments is obviously quite serious about bass fishing. For the average evening or weekend angler, a canoe, kayak, johnboat or even a small motorboat will do. But not for these anglers.
Professional bass fishing, or perhaps better put as “tournament angling,” is an institution all its own. So much so that it’s considered a sport. Just like any professional sport, anglers start at the local level, move on to their state federation, and if they do well, fish some pretty serious regional tournaments. Call it the minor leagues, if you will.
At this point they’re not just tying up a pile of money in a bass boat, but also investing in fishing gear and tournament fees.
Winning, or at least consistently doing well at tournaments, is paramount. Not just for getting your name, and your brand, established but for obtaining sponsors. That’s what helps pay the bills. If you do well at the scales and in marketing yourself, you may just make it to the top circuits of FLW and B.A.S.S.
The hierarchy is getting some serious help these days thanks to high school and collegiate fishing fishing programs, and even kayak fishing tournaments. It seems, at least to this writer, that there are more opportunities than ever to get involved and pursue your dream.
This was on display at all levels at the two Bassmasters Elite Series events recently held in New York. A week after they put on quite a show on the St. Lawrence River, I dropped in on the event at Plattsburgh on Day 3 of the Lake Champlain event.
New York native Jamie Hartman was leading the way entering that day and when I got there I found out he had experienced some mechanical issues on his boat. Despite the fact that no fans were allowed, as a member of the media I was able to secure a slot in a media boat and hoped to catch Hartman and some other anglers in action.
I was paired with New Hampshire angler Garry Woodruff, who is exactly the type of guy mentioned above. By weekday, he runs a computer business, and obviously in his spare time he’s involved with fishing tournaments; particularly New York The Bass Federation (http://www.nytbf.org), where he manages the website.
Woodruff’s bass boat is the epitome of that of a modern competitor. Having not been in a bass boat in over a decade, I was amazed at how far things have come with electronics.
It was a gorgeous day on Lake Champlain; uncharacteristically calm, and Woodruff used B.A.S.S.’ Basstracker software to put me on Hartman, where I was able to take dozens of photographs. We also checked out a few other anglers.
The only other possible way to get closer to the tournament action is to actually be in a boat with a pro angler. I had that experience in 2005 when I attended the Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh and was a media judge for veteran angler Gary Klein of Texas.
On this day I was just grateful that these two tournaments were able to happen in New York, as others have been cancelled. On the way home I shared the Adirondack Northway (I-87) with a couple of anglers who didn’t make the cut to fish Sunday, and were headed back to their families after two-plus weeks in New York.
I thought about their lifestyle, guys like Woodruff and the commitment it takes to partake in tournament bass fishing. They sure are a dedicated and knowledgeable bunch.