We’ve reached peak velocity in the professional fishing world, with all three major tours holding events this week on three distinctly different venues – a TVA grass lake full of monsters, a southern smallmouth impoundment, and a massive river system that demands game day strategy as much as fishing skill.
In November of 1997, I was a third-year associate at a law firm, spending ridiculous hours working on a financially substantial ratemaking matter before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The case was reaching a boiling point that fall, which was not a problem for my ledger of billable hours, but nevertheless caused me great angst because I had qualified to fish as a co-angler at the FLW Championship (before its name had been changed to the Forrest Wood Cup) on Lake Ferguson in Greenville, Mississippi.
In 2001, just after OMC (then-manufacturer of Johnson and Evinrude outboards) went belly-up, I was scheduled to spend a tournament practice day with Missouri pro Chad Brauer. As we trolling-motored away from the Jolly Roger Marina on the upper end of stumpy Toledo Bend, his father Denny yelled out, “Try not to break anything.”
Last Thursday, the New York Times published a lengthy (approximately 3,000 words) feature on the state of bass fishing titled “This Is the Most Lucrative Moment in History to Catch Bass.” The writer, Haley Cohen Gilliland, previously of mega-serious and prestigious publications like The Economist and Vanity Fair, did a fantastic job with what is likely a difficult topic for people outside of our orbit to understand.
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.
FLW canceled the second day of their season-opening Costa event on Lake Okeechobee when one of the angler pairs did not return safely to the Day One check-in. I’m not there, and I don’t know all of the pertinent facts, except that at the time of this writing (9am eastern on Friday morning) the boater has been found and the non-boater has not.
While some portion of pro anglers are likely to find problems in any changes to tournament rules or procedure, one of the recent FLW developments that I really think is smart is the addition of the Wednesday “off day” to the tournament schedule. They practice Sunday-Monday-Tuesday, take care of off-the-water business on Wednesday, and start the tournament on the normal Thursday.
In December, FLW Tour tournament director Bill Taylor put up the following post on Facebook:
I've been looking very closely at the 2017 FLW Tour Pro Roster. It amazes me of the talent levels of these pros! I then pulled up the BASS Elite Pro list and see that 80-90% of those anglers started fishing within the FLW family of tournaments. This tells me our programs are perfect for any angler that wants to develop their fishing skills with the best out there! So whether you fish as a beginner at the High School or as a 40 year old beginner we have a place you can fish and gain huge amounts of knowledge.