Last Wednesday I received a call from my friend Terry Segraves telling me about an open tournament — a local evening event — on Toho out of Richardson’s Marina. Naturally, I had to go there and fish it. I couldn’t fish it with him, though. He has a regular partner.
It reminded me of our Tuesday night tournaments in Ohio, except that the fish were a lot bigger and that they fish well past dark. There were lots of guys entered, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I finished third, fishing by myself. The two teams who beat me had big kicker fish and they had two men fishing. I’m pretty happy about my performance.
It was a lot of fun, and it made me think about the state of our sport.
Over the past few weeks, before Tracey and I came down here to Florida, I’d been fishing a lot of small local lakes around central Ohio on the weekends. I was amazed at all the local tournaments that were being held. Every lake I fished had some sort of year-end championship or Classic going on. The action was nonstop no matter where I fished or what day I fished.
The truth is that there are a lot of bass fishermen around these days. I’ve been doing this for decades and I’ll tell you that there’s more activity now than there ever was. I can remember being on the water in the fall 20 years ago. I’d be the only boat out there. Not anymore.
I’m seeing the same thing on Okeechobee. I called Roland Martin’s place the other day to reserve a room for my own fishing. I was surprised to find out that it wasn’t as easy as I thought it’d be. There was some kind of regional event going on and there was a big Halloween tournament going out of his place at the same time. (Do you think they fish in costumes?) I got in but it was close.
What all this tells me is that we’re in pretty good shape, overall anyway.
I know that things are a little tough at the professional level. The Great Recession hurt us and, like most of the economy, we’re still climbing out of the hole. Things aren’t as good as they once were. Nobody I know will tell you any differently.
At the same time, though, I think it’s important that we realize what’s happening out there that’s positive. It would be a mistake to think that just because things aren’t as good as we’d like that they’re terrible, or hopeless, or that we’re somehow doomed. We aren’t. This is a vibrant and growing sport.
Huge numbers of people like to bass fish, and they like to belong to clubs and organizations that help them do it. Maybe they aren’t buying the newest and best equipment but they’re fishing. That’s one heck of a lot more important for our future.
The glass is half full. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.