Had a great afternoon and evening with the Virginia Bass Federation Nation gang this past weekend. They were preparing for their state tournament on Kerr Reservoir, and I guess about 300 anglers were at the registration and barbecue.
As I addressed everyone gathered in a large meeting room, I saw all sizes and shapes of bass fishermen. Young and old, big and small, all with a similar dream for each and every one of them: The Bassmaster Classic.
There are thousands of Federation Nation anglers with their eyes on one of the six Classic spots handed out by B.A.S.S., and the adventure starts in rooms just like this in each state across the country.
But, the Classic spot is really not the thing on my mind today. “As I addressed everyone,” is. You see, I’ve been “addressing everyone” for about six months now, and regardless of what I’m saying, I always save some time to work in my spiel about youth fishing.
I sneak in my story about how it only takes about 5 seconds to make a forever bass fisherman out of an 8-year-old ... or anyone else for that matter. That's about how long it takes for your jig and trailer to start to sink toward the bottom, be engulfed by a bass and you set the hook. If you’re a newcomer to the sport and have this experience, there’s a good chance you‘re a bass fishermen forever.
If it happens, and the person holding the rod is not moved at all, then he or she should probably take up golf.
I think how we teach a young angler the rights and wrongs about fishing, equipment and technique is a process. Give him the 5-second experience and he'll beat your door down learning that process.
When I finish that part of my talk, I work my way into how could we develop a curriculum for high school students where they can go online and take a course, complete the course and somehow be rewarded. If they pass the exam, maybe the youngsters get to spend a week fishing with Skeet Reese; if they fail, a week with Mark Zona.
I’m kidding, of course. I would never make a youngster spend a week with Mark Zona.
But seriously, that’s how I’m thinking. I know that somewhere along the line, this student wants to go experience what he’s been studying and even compete with his new knowledge. But if he or she is cramming down some good info — maybe from a Bassmaster Elite Series pro — that’s got to be a good thing.
OK, back to my point. I talk about those things to groups all the time, and it’s just about time I start putting some things in place to get the ball rolling.
In my six months on the job, I think I can say we have a lot of things going, so it’s not like I’ve been spending my time at the beach — or worse, on the lake. But the youth thing never leaves my mind, and I’m getting close to turning a lot of things loose and focusing on this subject. Not quite time, but close.
Certainly, I have my ideas on places to start, who can help, etc., but, what if I didn’t have a clue and asked everyone for their thoughts and advice? Where would you start? And remember, in my mind, this is really important; maybe as important as the Elite Series schedule for next year or what the content will be on our website next month. Creating new, young anglers should be on the top of the list.
So, if you have something to say about it, think it through and realize what an impact they can have on bass fishing. In the meantime, be aware that I’m just about ready to attack.
By the way, in closing this occurs to me.
One of the strongest paths for bass fishing starts in Oklahoma, and then goes through Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia then continues through North and South Carolina.
That’s the same path that those horrific storms took last week.
Each and every one of us have some kind of a tie to a bass fisherman in that path, and our hearts and prayers go out to all of them and, of course, to everyone who suffered through that experience.