I’m sitting in my son’s johnboat on Lake Guntersville this morning thinking about things in between bites. I can’t help but look at the sport of fishing, where we started and where we’re headed. It’s incredible to me.
From where I’m at, it looks like fishing is really growing. I see the evidence of that everywhere I go and in everything I do.
Putting aside the professional aspect of things for a moment, let’s look at the efforts that are going on at the grassroots level. We now have a ton of high schools around the country with fishing clubs and programs underway. Most of the youngsters who are involved with them will be fans and supporters all of their lives even if they don’t fish much as adults.
College is doing the same thing. Just a few short years ago the idea of formal college competition, and even scholarships in some cases, was a dream. A few guys talked about it but there wasn’t much happening beyond that. Now, it’s getting media coverage worthy of a true sport. Some of the college guys are turning pro right out of school.
On another level, we have a lot of individual clubs and fruit jar circuits out there. Those provide the foundation for everything. It makes a fan base and it also makes for an economic base. (You don’t read this site unless you’re interested in bass fishing, and you don’t buy stuff from our sponsors unless you fish and want to get better.)
In large measure, we have B.A.S.S.to thank for all this. They are the one organization with the drive and the money to make it happen. Their efforts aren’t all in the area of serious, organized bass fishing competition, either. If you aren’t familiar with the Big Bass Splash presented by Sealy Outdoors and B.A.S.S., check it out under Tournaments. It’s a joint project with Sealy Outdoors and it’s definitely worth a look.
At the same time, we have several companies wanting to get involved with our sport. Just look at the number of them — local and national — who support fishing camps, kids fishing days and other things like that.
There are a whole bunch of reasons for this change over the years. I suppose it all started with Ray Scott and his dream. That said, however, a lot of other people have made it happen. We have countless early and present day professional anglers to thank for that as well as the sponsors and businesses who have gotten involved over the years.
Another thing that’s really helped us is that bass fishing is a wholesome activity that can be enjoyed by all members of a family and all members of a community. What we do is suitable for everyone regardless of their age or their gender.
I don’t want to be accused of looking at things through rose-colored glasses. There are things that need to be improved. Everything isn’t perfect. It’s darn good, though. And it’ll stay that way so long as we all work together for the good of the sport.