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Remedial Reading

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July 15, 2011

Words matter.

They have the power to convince and explain. They can also mislead.

Few things bother me more than looking back on something I’ve written, after it’s published, and seeing that it could have been written better. This fear is particularly acute with my blog here at Pete Weighs In – most of the pieces are written in a stream of consciousness fashion, given a quick proofreading and put up on the web.

By my subjective judgment, most of the time my blog entries are reasonably clear. If they are not, I
expect that my readers will point out their problems, especially if those problems are with the substance of what I’ve written rather than the syntax. Unfortunately, it appears that some of my readers need me to dumb down my columns going forward.

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Last Updated on Friday, 15 July 2011 14:23
 

Who Likes Ike?

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July 11, 2011

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From my position next to the BASS trailer, right in front of Bass Pro Shops, I guesstimated that there were 600 people at Saturday's final day weigh-in for the Bassmaster Northern Open on the James River. Of those 600, I'd further guess that:

  • 198 were there to cheer on friends and family competing in the event;
  • 77 were local anglers looking to pick up some info on their home fishery on the sly:
  • 52 were there to buy something in the “sexy shad” pattern;
  • 2 were there to purchase the latest “Girls Gone Noodling” DVD;
  • 1 was lost; and
  • 270 were there specifically to see Mike Iaconelli.

Say what you want about Ike – love him or hate him – but he puts fannies in the seats. Actually, in this case, since there were only 5 or 6 seats, reserved for injured soldiers, it would be more apt to say he brings fans to the event. If you’re BASS, or Bass Pro Shops, or any of Mike’s sponsors, you have to be happy any time he makes a final day cut.

Included among group number six, the Ike-o-philes, was the blue-faced Mensa member pictured here. All he’s missing is the rainbow wig. Hey, his money (assuming he didn’t spend the last of it on a permanent marker and a Larry the Cable Guy Signature Series t-shirt), is worth the same as yours and mine, and Ike’s sponsors (and, of course, Mike himself) are pretty damn good at turning blue face paint into green currency.

 

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Battisti Week: One and Done?

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July 7, 2011

blog-battistiheadOn Tuesday I wrote about the stellar 2011 season enjoyed by the five anglers who came over from the FLW Tour this year to fish the Elite Series. Contrary to the impression I may have left, things weren’t rosy for all of the ES virgins. In fact, if you look at the rest of the first-timers, you’ll see a very different picture.

After the Fab Five – Defoe, Combs, Montgomery, Walker and Wellman – there were ten “true rookies” on the Elites this year. They were, in alphabetical order:

 


  • Dean Alexander
  • Travis Manson
  • Brandon Palaniuk
  • Ben Parker
  • Russell Parrish
  • Ryan Said
  • Craig Schuff
  • Lee Sisson
  • James Stricklin
  • Jonathon VanDam

With the exception of Palaniuk, who finished 4th in the New Orleans Classic and then earned six checks this year en route to a 37th place in the AOY race, no one else did worth a damn. There were flashes of glory here and there, to be sure, but on the whole they lost their shirts.

In fact, other than Palaniuk, who netted $27,075 in tournament winnings and AOY bonuses (subtracting out entry fees only), no one else ended up right side up. Stricklin was the best of them, I suppose, because he suffered a net loss of “only” $8,500. Everyone else lost more, including Manson, Parrish and Said, who each earned one check in eight tries, for a net loss of thirty grand before expenses.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 07 July 2011 08:57
 

Battisti Week – Tilly’s Touch

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July 6, 2011

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In response to Monday’s column about possible BASS point system revisions, I got a message from Tilly Davis, of the Mt. Ida Davises (if you don’t know who they are, you obviously don’t follow the sport). She wondered whether it would be possible to earn a check in all eight Elite Series events and still miss the Classic.

The answer is “yes.”

Currently, rookie Brandon Palaniuk is the last man in the field with a total of 1548 points. That’s an average of 193.5 points per event. All finishes from 41st to 50th earn fewer than 193.5 points, so an angler who is consistently in that range would earn some pocket money each time but fail to make it to the big dance. An angler could even do better than 41st on occasion if he had a poorer (42nd to 50th) finish to balance it out, and still be “perfect” without making the post-season.

It’s obvious that this season an angler who finished 51st or worse in each event (173 points each time out) could not have progressed, but an angler could earn only one check (without winning an event) and still make it to the Classic. If he came in 51st in 7 events, that would be 1211 points (7 times 173). If he led each of those events on the first day before falling out of the money, that would be an additional 35 bonus points, for a total of 1246. Add in a 2nd place finish and you have 1541. If he led for one of the competition days, that brings him up to 1546. He could finish 2nd if he led for two days and end up with 1546, or third and lead for three days and end up with 1546. These scenarios are extremely unlikely, but they give hope to anyone who has ever uttered the words “So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance.”

Ok, now my head is officially spinning. Someone please check my math.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 07:52
 

Battisti Week: The Outliers

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July 5, 2011

blog-battistiheadUntil one of the tours goes belly up, the debate over BASS vs. FLW is not going to go away.

Which tour is better? Even if you define what “better” means – the quality of the field from top to bottom, top ten anglers, schedule, promotional opportunities – you’ll still have differences of opinions. It’s the modern day version of Mantle/Mays/Snider.

But for now we do have one curious little data set, the group of anglers who’ve made the switch from FLW to BASS. In the past, they’ve included all-stars like Greg Hackney, Steve Kennedy and Bobby Lane. On the 2011 Elite Series there were five of them (listed alphabetically):

  • Keith Combs
  • Ott Defoe
  • Andy Montgomery
  • David Walker
  • Nate Wellman

That’s a pretty stout group. You can dispute the fact that they’re rookies in the truest sense of the word – all of them have tour-level experience and Walker is a veteran of six Bassmaster Classics – but they fit the qualification criteria established by BASS so give Mr. Defoe a pat on the back for his hard-fought and richly deserved Rookie of the Year title.

This is, to say the least, a talented quintet. The numbers tell a story of across-the board success this year.

Checks: Among them, they totaled 26 checks over 40 entries, an average of over five apiece. Defoe was the star in this category, earning a check in 7 of 8 tournaments, but none really faltered. Even Wellman, the low man in this category, stood in the money line four times.

Top Twelves: While Defoe was the most consistent angler in making the money, he didn’t distinguish himself in this category. All five FLW-to-BASS rookies made the final day cut at least once, with all except Combs making it twice. They had 9 total among five anglers, almost twice the number you’d expect through random distribution.

Bassmaster Classic: Montgomery, Walker and Combs have all been to the big dance before. Walker will be going back in 2012 – not only did he finish 28th in the points, but as a result of his win at Wheeler he double-qualified. Combs, who finished 15th in the AOY race will make it back-to-back Classics. Defoe, by virtue of his 4th place finish in the AOY race, will not only go to Shreveport for the Classic but will also go to the BASS post-season without having to engage in any Facebook campaigning. Wellman (49th) still has a chance if he wins one of the Northern Opens and it appears that if all of the remaining Opens are won by anglers who’ve already qualified for the Classic then Montgomery (41st) might also have a shot to fish his second BASS championship.

AOY Race: Every one of these guys finished in the top half of the end-of-year standings, with a mean placement of 27th place, which is almost exactly the same as their median AOY finish (Walker’s 28th).

Earnings: in a year when over 40% of the field ended up underwater when comparing Elite Series winnings to entry fees, once again this group stands out. Every one of them ended up on the positive side of the ledger. All of them got AOY bonuses, too. Montgomery and Wellman, with net earnings of $12,100 and $11,525, respectively, were the lowest earners. After expenses, that profit almost certainly evaporated, but relative to the field it still left them in tall cotton. Combs netted $35k. Thanks to his six figure win at Wheeler, Walker was the big earner in this crew, netting $118,900. Defoe’s $65,000 is very impressive, too – among those Elite Series anglers who did not win an Elite Series event this year, only Gerald Swindle and Terry Scroggins netted more, with $90,000 and $72,000, respectively.

What does all of this mean? Not much, probably. The small sample size – five anglers over eight events during a four month period – doesn’t necessarily allow us to draw sweeping long-term conclusions, but it’s safe to say that everyone on the Elite Series will find it a bit harder to stay at the top going forward. It’s also safe to say that not all of the top talent is concentrated on one tour.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 08:04
 

Battisti Week : Wealth Redistribution

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July 4, 2011

blog-battistiheadI promised you charts and graphs – you’ll get charts and graphs. But first, a little back story.

I hate to use the word “socialism,” a term so over-applied and misused in contemporary life so as to have lost any real significance. Instead, I’ll just say that no one promised all professional anglers equal and incredible success. After all, by definition, nearly half of them have to be below average. But being below average is somewhat of a farce here. The guy who finishes in the 25th percentile doesn’t make half as much as the guy who finishes in the middle of the pack, just as the angler who finishes middle of the pack doesn’t earn half of what the Angler of the Year takes home. It’s a scale that favors those at the very top to the detriment of those from the middle on down. That’s not necessarily unfair – it’s competition and only the strong survive. The question, at least for me, is whether things are too top-heavy. In turn, it matters how you define top of the heap.

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Last Updated on Monday, 04 July 2011 14:31
 

Battisti Week on PWI

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July 1, 2011

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Just as every action hero needs his own theme music, every media outlet needs its own theme week.

I blame those suckers at the Discovery Channel. If it wasn’t for “Shark Week,” do you really think they would’ve had the funds to come up with “Deadliest Catch” a few years later? You’ve gotta have something that puts fannies in the seats consistently and you do that through thematic programming.

We don’t have sharks here on Pete Weighs in. We don’t even have a “Real World: Guntersville” marathon. We have something better.

We have TB.

Not tuberculosis. Something more powerful. T-E-R-R-Y  B-A-T-T-I-S-T-I.

Set your TIVO because all next week we’re going to have Battisti Week. American’s favorite fishing nuclear engineer will not be holding court here. We will not have any discussion of Idaho potatoes, fly rods or World Cup matches but every day you’ll see Terry’s influence in my writing. Charts! Graphs! Tables! Algorithms!  It was mutual friend Mike Bucca who first pointed out Terry’s masterful use of illustrative tools in his writing and I’m going to follow suit. Unfortunately, my math education ended somewhere between long division and algebra, so don’t expect anything as complicated or meaningful as what Terry himself would produce, but it’ll be fun anyway.

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Last Updated on Friday, 01 July 2011 07:55
 

Scenes from the Show Me State: Another Notch on the Belt

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June 28, 2011

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As Marv Albert might say (in between bites), it was a “double bonus situation.”

I traveled to Missouri to cover the PAA event on Table Rock Lake. I knew I’d get a chance to visit the Granddaddy of Them All, the main Bass Pro Shops location in Springfield. That’s where the pre-tournament meeting was held. But I had no clue that the event would turn into a twofer. The final day weigh-in, it turns out, was held at Branson Landing, a shopping center on the banks of Lake Taneycomo featuring another BPS, just 40 miles down the road from the uncle Johnny’s main outlet.

I’m not quite sure why this tickled me so much. After all, most Bass Pro Shops locations have essentially the same products. Nevertheless, it’s still exciting to walk in the door (On an unrelated note, what ever happened to the old Uncle Buck’s calendar? If you were a male teenager in the 80s, you know the one I’m talking about).

Anyway, this rare double got me thinking about how many BPS locations I’ve visited. By my count, I’ve hit the following:

  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Springfield, Mo.
  • Branson, Mo.
  • Bossier City, La.
  • Gurnee, Ill.
  • Hanover, Md.
  • Hampton, Va.
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Orlando, Fla.

That’s an even dozen.

I’ve also hit the lame airport outlets in both Houston and Branson.

I’ve driven by BPS in both Grapevine, Texas and Harrisburg, Pa. without stopping.

Other than tour level pros, are there people who have been to 20 or more BPS locations? Is it like major league ballparks, where there’s a subculture of freaks who try to visit every outpost?


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2011 14:36
 

Double Your Pleasure?

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June 27, 2011

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Congratulations to Adrian Avena, who won $29,153 at the Lake Champlain EverStart this past weekend against a really stout field of anglers. Additionally, he set a new standard for fishing sponsorship bigamy.

Note the shirt: Triton Boats.

Note the hat: BassCat Boats.

He might’ve been wearing his lucky Cajun boxers, too (please tell me they don’t have a picture of Ricky Green across the cheeks).

What’s the story here? Can he double dip on bonus bucks or do the two logos cancel each other out, leaving him with nothing beyond his generous prize package from FLW?

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Last Updated on Monday, 27 June 2011 08:22
 

Failing at the Tour Level – Who Is to Blame?

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June 24, 2011

You may never be as good as KVD, but surely you can outwork him, right?

“Can” is the operative word here. “Won’t” better reflects the reality, because while KVD is on the road 270+ days a year, competing, working for sponsors and fulfilling various media obligations, way too many less-established and less wealthy pros are sitting on their butts at home.

He’s working harder AND smarter than them.

Who doesn’t want to make more money? Apparently most of the tour-level pros don’t. If they do, they’re simply not taking care of things as they should. “It’s a business,” they say, but they treat it more like a half-assed hobby.

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Last Updated on Monday, 27 June 2011 14:57
 


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