What Happened to Mentoring?

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There are two good articles about spinnerbaiting in the March 2019 issue of Bassmaster, the first by Mark Hicks and featuring Rick Clunn and the second by Steve Price and featuring Matt Herren. They both discuss the same type of lure, but what really caught my attention was the fact that both successful pros had spinnerbait mentors:

Hicks explains that “Clunn’s spinnerbait tutelage began when he met Texan Elroy Krueger in 1974. Krueger qualified for the Bassmaster Classic in 1974 and 1975. He passed away in September 2015. Clunn stated that Krueger was one of his most influential bass fishing mentors. ‘Elroy was the best spinnerbait fisherman I have ever known,’ Clunn says. ‘I have known no others that are even half as good. I include myself in the lesser group, even though he tried to teach me it all.’”

Similarly, Price writes: “Many years ago, one of Alabama’s greatest spinnerbait anglers, the late Paul Chapple (a Tournament Trail competitor who fished in the 1980 Bassmaster Classic) taught Herren the basics of spinnerbaiting, and Herren has turned those lessons into his own fishing specialty.”

Stories about the pros’ fishing mentors don’t show up in print frequently. That may be because most readers don’t care about them the way I do, but I suspect that part of it is because high-level mentoring is a dying phenomenon. As stakes have risen on both the local and national levels, there’s less incentive for the best-of-the-best in a particular region to take a young gun under his wing. I may be wrong, and this may be occurring with more frequency than I perceive, but somehow there seems to be less intergenerational mixing than there was in the past. As bass club participation dwindles in many areas, so too does the natural conduit for old and young to mix and share information.

That’s a shame, because many of my fellow old(er) curmudgeons spend lots of time talking about how the high school kids, college anglers and young pros don’t do things “the right way.” Maybe rather than cursing that darkness, we should all light a candle. Maybe then when I’m the same age as Hicks or Price I’ll be writing about how today’s young pro stars or regional hammers influenced and contributed to the next generation’s success.