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Pete Weighs In - A Blog

By Pete Robbins

Pulling the Drain Plug

May 14, 2009

[The first in what may become an occasional series of blog entries with random thoughts about miscellaneous topics – none of which merits a full piece of their own]

• What does the “Custom” stand for in Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits?

• Malcolm Gladwell penned a piece in the May 12th issue of The New Yorker entitled “How David Beats Goliath: When Underdogs Break the Rules” which addresses how unorthodox techniques can improve one’s chances of overcoming more experienced and/or talented opponents: (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/11/090511fa_fact_gladwell). His prime example is a basketball team of 12 year-old girls whose coach decided they couldn’t compete on skills and athleticism alone, so he employed a full court press to break down the other teams’ rhythms. I was surprised that he didn’t invoke the so-called “Princeton Offense,” developed by legendary basketball coach Pete Carril, which operated under a similar premise to overcome the competition’s far greater athleticism and beat them with a combination of backdoor passes and motion aimed at creating open shots for (typically undersized) sharpshooters. With such techniques, he should’ve beaten Georgetown in the NCAA tournament (they wuz robbed!) and several years later did beat a heavily-favored UCLA team. Carril even provided one of my all-time favorite quotes: “The strong take from the weak but the smart take from the strong.” I don’t know if there’s a corollary in fishing. Can you outmaneuver KVD and beat him with the strategic equivalent of the back-door pass and full court press or is the analogy inapplicable?

• Just for the hell of it (fishing edition): Tony Christian

• Just for the hell of it (pop culture edition): Tony Clifton

• If they ever invented a Hall of Fame for fishing tackle, the old green Shimano Curado would be a first-ballot shoo-in.

• I think I suffered the most embarrassing injury in the history of industrialized man last week. I’m almost embarrassed to disclose it here, but in the interest of journalistic integrity I’ll do so – I reached into the microwave to grab my Hot Pocket and didn’t notice that a lot of the molten cheese had oozed out and I burned the crap out of my hand. Those things are supposed to hurt you after you eat them, not before.

• I’d love to see a fishing version of golf’s “Skins Game.” Here’s how I imagine it: Get four or more anglers – for example, KVD, Skeet, Todd Faircloth and Alton Jones – and at each Elite Series event the top finisher gets all of the others’ checks. So if KVD wins, Skeet finishes 2nd, Faircloth 3rd and Jones 50th, KVD takes home all of their prize money. If Faircloth is the top finisher among the group but Skeet is the only other one in the top 50, Todd takes home a lesser sum. It would make for great reality TV – an angler having a stellar season but banking zero dollars because someone else always had a slightly better tournament.

• I know a lot of smart people through fishing: Battisti, the “nuke-you-lar” engineer; my friend Brian Thompson, who is in fact a rocket scientist, although his decision to move to Detroit next month calls his intelligence into some question; and my friend Bill the Federal judge, aka “College.” But perhaps the smartest of all my friends is my childhood friend Joseph Neimat who is a neurosurgeon at Vanderbilt. He was recently feted on multiple national news programs for fixing a tremor that had developed in the hand of legendary bluegrass banjo player Eddie Adcock, which had prevented the musician from practicing his craft. Adcock stayed awake throughout the procedure, banjo in hand, as Joseph looked for the right switch to fix what ailed him. Check out this report about the miracle operation: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqWBDHRvHrQ&feature=related)/

Now if only we could get him to apply his talents to building a bulletproof trolling motor, the world would be a better place.

• Two products I’ve learned to love this year: Aaron Martens Scrounger Heads, Toray braided line (worth every penny). Goal by the end of the year is to become proficient swimming a jig.

• If I ever use the term “bromance” in a non-ironic fashion, any and all of you are welcome to shoot me and put us all out of our misery.

Retro In Moneta

May 5, 2009

Last Sunday morning, while covering the BASS Blue Ridge Brawl at Smith Mountain Lake, I filed my morning story and rather than take my typical nap, I decided that the great weather merited a drive through the countryside.  Even though SML is only about 4 hours from my house, I hadn't been there in four or five years and wanted to see what had changed since my last visit.
On my way back to the condo in Huddleston, I passed the Mayberry Diner in Moneta and decided to stop in for a bite to eat.  After a very good sandwich and some average fries, I noticed that there was a big screen in the field next to the diner, and then realized that in addition to being an eating establishment, it was also a drive-in theater.
The double feature the night before had been "Hannah Montana" and "Race to Witch Mountain" (starring Dwayne Johnson, aka "The Rock"). 
Somehow I doubt that Zell Rowland and Tommy Biffle, both of whom missed the top fifty cut, decided to stay around and catch the flicks...but I could be wrong.

Slick Wheels

April 27, 2009

With all apologies to Britt Myers and CS Motorsports, the coolest tow vehicle on the Elite Series trail this year does not belong to Skeet Reese, Ish Monroe or any of the other remaining ninety-plus anglers.  That honor would go to the sweet ride pictured here belonging to renowned worm-dragger Harold Allen, AKA "The Legend," AKA "Dirty Harry."
It's just not fair -- first he claimed the title of coolest facial hair out there, now this.
But just one correction, Harold.  The license plate has to go. Those of us who know you are pretty certain that there are a few more skeletons in your closet.









Life's Essentials

April 24, 2009

had a break today in between the morning blastoff and the afternoon weigh-in here at Smith Mountain Lake, so as soon as I filed my story I hopped in the Avalanche and drove up to Lynchburg to meet up with my friend Bryant Copley for lunch.  He gets away from work once or twice a week to eat at the Tackle Box -- that's right, a combo tackle store and eating establishment. Why can't we have something like that where I live?
Just be sure to specify which kind of pork rinds you want.

Sunshine On My Pillow

April 24, 2009

I've occasionally railed against the typical accomodations found at most tournament lakes, but occasionally I'm pleasantly surprised.  This week is one of those exceptions.  I'm covering the BASS Elite Series event at Smith Mountain Lake (technically the Advance Auto Parts Blue Ridge Brawl), and BASS has us at Mariner's Landing on the lower end of the lake.
I'm sharing a two bedroom, two bathroom condo with photographer James Overstreet.  We've got a big tv in the living room, smaller flat screens in each bedroom, a full kitchen and, perhaps most ikmportantly, a balcony directly overlooking the lake.  Yesterday we sat on the balcony and bs'ed as one angler after another ran into the cove looking for bedding bass.  Downstairs there's a bar/restaurant where we watched the BassZone broadcast live last night, then had dinner with Don Barone and Harold Allen.  Tonight's the seafood buffet and Overstreet and I are gonna make them regret the "all-you-can-eat" promise.

Death and Taxes

April 24, 2009

What Lure Does Your Dog Resemble?

April, 14, 2009

Maybe we should have named her Scrounger instead of Cookie.

All the News No Longer Fit To Print

April 6, 2009

Alan Clemons, one of the deans of the bass writers’ fraternity, formally announced last week that he has accepted a buyout from the Huntsville Times and will, as they say in the world of business and sports, leave to “pursue other interests.”

I don’t claim to be impartial about this development.  Clemons has been a role model to me for quite a while and a friend and sometimes mentor now for the better part of a year. If I can read between the lines, my sense is that the paper forced his hand.  It’s no secret that many print news sources are hurting as more and more content is available online and the economy struggles to climb out of the toilet.  But while it may be a sound short-term business plan on their part, I still think it sucks, and I’m sure the good sportsmen of Alabama are likely to agree.

Without Clemons there, I’m guessing that the outdoors coverage that until now has consisted largely but not exclusively of hook-and-bullet material will now become more “all-encompassing” – in other words, we can expect to see mushroom hunting, ultimate Frisbee, canine agility and power walking in the place of the bass material we’ve come to enjoy.

I don’t think the folks around Huntsville are going to be too happy about that.  Last year, I remember hearing a joke (it might have been Alan who told it to me) that said that every Wal-Mart in the state of Alabama was sold out of ammunition.  The punchline was that “when we heard that the Russians invaded Georgia, we figured they were coming here next.”  Alabama is fishing and hunting country.  If an outdoors page can’t survive there, where can it last?

What other papers still have good coverage of bass fishing, and especially of the tournament scene? If you know of any, please forward the names here.  I’m on the computer what seems like 30 hours a day and could use some more links to add to my favorites.  The two papers here in DC have largely discounted serious bass fishermen.  One never gives us anything at all to chew on and the other is predictable in its lack of newsworthiness and originality.  Anything I get from them I can usually get elsewhere faster, more completely and with a more original spin.  I don’t want to call out the particular writers – I’ve long assumed that they just don’t give a damn about my favorite sport or that they’re lazy, but as I’ve inferred from Alan’s case, maybe there are instructions from the higher-ups that dictate the content and mandate the brevity. 

And as long as I’m on the topic of newspapers, what is the point of a weekly fishing report? Does anyone’s local paper ever say anything useful?  Typically, a July report about the Potomac River will say something along the lines of “anglers are catching fish in the grassbeds from Mattawoman Creek down to Aquia Creek.” That’s a distance of about 15 miles.  With respect to techniques, it’s usually something like “Topwaters will fool them in low light conditions, but you’ll have to switch to soft plastics when the sun comes up.”  You could write it two or three Julys in advance and more likely than not you’ll be on target.  It reminds me of the old Steve Martin movie “LA Story,” where he plays a Los Angeles TV weather reporter who unerringly records his segments days in advance: “It’s gonna be 75 and sunny tomorrow.” 

If the newspapers are only going to give limited space to fishing material, can we get rid of the reports and add one more column a week about something newsworthy?

If not, enjoy the list of jogging trails and wineries….your newest sports afield.


No Natural Fibers Were Killed To Create This Blog Entry

March 19, 2009

Field and Stream magazine has a cool online feature this month – 15 fishing ads from the past, along with a bit of snarky commentary (this coming from a big fan of snarky commentary)..

Check it out at: www.fieldandstream.com/photos/gallery/fishing/bass/2009/03/vintage-fishing-ads-weve-come-long-way-water.

Some of them date back to the 50s, but the one I like best is from 1987.  The hair, the mustache, the prices….I’ll take a 3XL and a 4XL for those days when I want an extra biscuit in the morning.