The Pool's In But the Patio Ain't Dry


Hope you’re not tired of my questions about the state of professional tournament fishing, because they continue to pop into my brain one after another after another. That may be because I spend a lot of time on social media, where the topic has been twisted, turned upside down and given an enema by hundreds or even thousands of fans.

I don’t know more than I did the last time I examined the issue, but it seems that every Tom, Dick and Leroy knows a tour-level pro who has given him the inside scoop on what’s really happening. Truth be told, 99+% of the would-be experts (I count myself among this noisy majority) have very little idea of what’s going on. They don’t know exactly who will be fishing which tour, nor do they have any idea of the financial or operational realities propping up any of the three organizations. In fact, I’d bet that all but a few of us couldn’t pick Chase Anderson, Kathy Fennel or Jim Wilburn out of a lineup.

Nevertheless, everyone seems to have an opinion about the state of the sport and what’s going to happen 12, 36 and 60 months from now.

Those are simply things that we cannot know. I’m not an economist, and I don’t play one on TV, but here are some things we do know:

·        By semi-official metrics, the Great Recession ended in June 2009 and we’ve enjoyed an almost unprecedented period of economic expansion since then;

·        Interest rates are rising and will likely continue to do so;

·        Consumer and business confidence are very high;

·        The stock market continues to set new records regularly;

·        Unemployment is remarkably low, but has not been accompanied by commensurate wage growth;

·        US corporations have a very high level of debt;

·        Tariffs on imports and exports, levied by the US on foreign products, as well as by other countries on US products, may lead to a trade war with China, among others; and

·        The Federal deficit is expected to top $1 trillion by the end of the year.

If the good continues, and the bad is slowed down, that rising tide may lift all boats for the foreseeable future, but if you don’t think that there will be speed bumps along the way, you may be more of a Polyanna than a realist.

There are of course a wide variety of other factors beyond those listed that worry the serious thinkers, including the flattening yield curve and the potential for geopolitical unrest. Would any of them – or any combination of them – lead to another recession? I’m not qualified to say, nor can I predict the future. In hindsight, the experts seem to think that most recessions are caused by factors that couldn’t have been predicted (which may be a statement about the complexity of the world, or it could just be a piece of CYA rationalization).

Nevertheless, take any three or four of the factoids listed above and assume that in 24 or 36 months they’ll be substantially worse. Does that change your view of which tour or tours are likely to survive and thrive? Would it change your advice to an angler pondering his future in late September 2018?

The tours, and the anglers themselves, have the power to control some of their destiny, but they cannot control everything, and the biggest factor of all will be outside of their influence. It’s the economy, stupid.