tournament fishing

Which Battles Can FLW Win?

Which Battles Can FLW Win?

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. 

You Earned Your Dream, Now What?

You Earned Your Dream, Now What?

My point in Tuesday’s blog entry was to comment on how incredibly difficult it is right now to get into the Elite Series. That’s pressuring some anglers who might otherwise be inclined to leave to stay around, because no matter how confident they are in their skill sets, they know that if they ever want back in it’s not necessarily an easy path.

Golden Handcuffs

Golden Handcuffs

I occasionally hear from Elite Series pros who profess to want out of the tour-level rat race. I’m not talking bottom feeders who regularly finish in triple digits, but rather anglers who’ve been at it a while and who are consistently competitive. Several of them make the Classic nearly every year and a few are considered stars. I think that most fans of the sport would be very surprised to learn two of the most recent ones, although in the interest of privacy and my own career longevity I don’t feel comfortable disclosing their names.

Will Fritts be the Blitzer or the Blitzee?

Will Fritts be the Blitzer or the Blitzee?

If I’d had to guess which of the non-current Elite Series pros would have accepted the “Legend” invitation to rejoin the top tour at B.A.S.S., I wouldn’t have hesitated to answer “Roland Martin.” For reasons of his own, though, Roland turned down the spot and David Fritts accepted it. That surprised the hell out of me, because while there can be no doubt that Fritts was once a tremendous tournament angler and innovator, he’s been an afterthought for many fishing fans in recent years

No Mo Co?

No Mo Co?

In 1997, I entered two regular season FLW Tour events and did well enough to qualify for the Championship (before it was called the Forrest Wood Cup) on Lake Ferguson in Mississippi. I enjoyed fishing those three tournaments, so when the 1998 schedule came out, I put in for two more….and was promptly put on the waiting list.

All Nets On Deck

All Nets On Deck

When I was fishing a lot of local tournaments, I had a little speech I’d give to my non-boating partner at the start of every day. No, it wasn’t “Don’t cast in front of the console” or the ever-popular “Don’t speak unless spoken to.” Instead, it was a rather simple and fairly polite request that at each stop he make sure that the net was not under, inside or wrapped around anything in such a way that it would hinder us from netting each other’s fish.

Finding Gold in the Toilet Water

Finding Gold in the Toilet Water

I’m certainly not going to take away any credit from Justin Lucas. He found the best spot on the river last week and figured out the best way to catch the fish. But for a late game Herculean charge by Jason Christie to pull within four and a half pounds, he would’ve won by double digits. It was the second of what many informed observers expect to be many Elite Series titles in his career.

Pardon the Disruption

Pardon the Disruption

Everyone in the world of big business seems to be obsessed with the concept of “disruption.” I’m using that term loosely, not in the narrowly defined academic sense, but rather to mean anything that upends the traditionally accepted business models and norms. For example, Uber has disrupted the taxi business, Tesla has the potential to disrupt the traditional dealer-network model for selling cars. Wikipedia and Google marked the last nail in the coffin of the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman.

Snowballing Aggression on the Pro Hawging Scene

By Pete Robbins

The last two Elite Series events have produced highly-publicized and broadcast turf battles between competitors. I wasn’t on site for either one, so I really have no clue who was in the right and who was in the wrong. I might not even have a valid opinion if I’d been there.
It used to be that the most frequently used terms in any bass writer’s vocabulary were “spinnerbait,” “worm” and, of course “parabolic action.” Today they’re “gray area,” “respect” and “unwritten rules.”

Since Winyah Bay I’ve been asked by several acquaintances whether I thought these on-the-water fracases are more common that they were in years past. My knee-jerk answer was to say that they are not. Battles over fishing areas are older than organized baseball, and they’ve existed on the pro tours since Day One, it’s just that today we have the blogosphere, the twitterverse and the all-knowing eye of BASS Live.

Upon further consideration, however, I wonder whether these publicized battles breed more of the same. If you’re a rookie, and you’ve seen another rookie get punked, does that raise your hackles more at the slightest perceived incursion? If you’re a vet, and you feel that these newcomers are willing to throw the established order out the window, do you jump down their throats a little quicker. The last battle was between two veterans, so I don’t know that it falls into either paradigm, but I think the thesis has some basis in reality – it’s not necessarily some sort of “eye for an eye” mentality, but rather an increasing awareness that the new normal feeds on itself. If you don’t stem it early, you’ve effectively turned yourself into a doormat.

Carpet Burns

By Pete Robbins

One of the most controversial aspects of Major League Fishing is the rule assessing a penalty each time a landed fish touches the floor of the boat. If your fish even brushes the carpet, you’re forced to sit there and do nothing – can’t cast, can’t work on tackle, can’t even drink a Sqwinchers. Some people love it, thinking it promotes conservation. Others hate it, believing that it doesn’t serve any purpose.

Normally, I’d be pretty much agnostic on the topic. If all of the MLF owners-slash-participants want to keep the rule intact, that’s their business, and if they want to scrap it or replace it with something else, that’d be fine, too, but upon further consideration, I kind of like the drama of it. It’s not so much the time out, although I guess that affects strategy and efficiency, but rather the way that the competitors react.

Every time a fish hits the carpet, whether it’s a full-on belly flop or just a glance that might escape the judge’s eyes, you can see the wheels inside the angler’s head start to spin. Did that really happen? Am I going to get penalized? Why now? Should I have grabbed the line? And then, after a painful wait, just as he thinks he might get away with it, the judge says “Fish landing violation. Two minute penalty.” I’ve never seen an angler contest the call, claiming that the official was wrong or had an obstructed view (the occasional retort of “if you had one more eye you’d be a Cyclops,” would be nice), but every last time the chastened angler looks like he wants to throat punch the dude who just delivered the bad news.

Someday an angler will be on the mother of all schools of fish, a few pounds out of the cut with just minutes to go, and his fish is going to flop to the carpet and he’ll end up sitting the rest of the period on his butt. I don’t know how long you have to sit out the next round for punching an official, but I have a feeling we’ll find out.

Circular Logic

By Pete Robbins

B.A.S.S. doesn’t consult me or even preliminary inform me about any of their significant decisions, but like many of you I’m constantly riding the fishing world’s rumor merry-go-round. They’ve yet to announce the location of any Classics for 2017 or beyond, but I’ve heard of a variety of possibilities.

First it was the California Delta, then Shreveport, then Texoma and then Toho. While the rumors had various amounts of traction, each was conveyed to me by someone who had a vested interest (local water, ability to sleep in his own bed, or $$$$) in having the tournament at that particular location.

The latest possibility to light up the Google machine is Lake Conroe. That would be fine with me. I’m unlikely to drive to Houston, but it’s an easy, direct flight from home. The lake isn’t far from a decent-sized arena, it has big fish, and I’ve worked an event there previously – the TTBC in 2009 – so I know that it sets up well for spectators and visiting media.

Perhaps equally importantly, for my purposes, it’s where Rick Clunn guided early in his career.

Due to changes in the rules, Clunn’s win on the St. Johns last week no longer provides him with an automatic berth in the 2017 Classic, but it puts him a damn good position to make a run at qualifying for his 33rd championship, and his first since 2009. I somehow doubt that he would call it a career after that, even if he were to win his 5th title (thereby passing KVD), as he seems to have too much invested in the process to leave while he’s still able to compete. Nevertheless, it would be an awesome opportunity to showcase him, and an oddly symmetrical stop in his lengthy and accomplished career. While I love the idea of driving to Alabama or South Carolina, or seeing records broken on the Cal Delta, for now I’m rooting for a Conroe announcement and a spot in it for Mr. Clunn.

Twice as Much, Half the Battle?

By Pete Robbins

Today marks the first day of the Elite Series event on the St. Johns River, the first day of the 2016 Elite Series season. It’s also the first day of the FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell, the second event of the FLW season.

That’s disappointing.

By the time you add in the Classic, the TTBC and other postseason shenanigans, we’re looking at about 20 tour-level events per year. There are 52 weeks in the year. It would be nice if they could be spread out a little.

I don’t blame B.A.S.S. or FLW for this overlap. For all I know, they had their reasons and their limitations that forced them into this particular week, but for those of us who live and die with the outcomes of these tournaments, it’s too bad that we’re doubling up.

I’m sure it’ll hurt the feelings of some of the anglers, too. There exists a possibility that some pro will earn the crowning achievement of his career this weekend and when he wakes up on Monday he’ll be the second story on BassFan or, worse yet, placed in the “Dock Talk” section. Unless you’re A-Mart or Andy Morgan or KVD, titles and trophies don’t come around every year, so when you finally get a big break or even a moderate breakthrough, you want to see your name up in lights.