An Industry Diagnosis

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

I just returned from the boat show at Richmond and was it ever an uplifting experience. The crowds were good and the interest in competitive fishing was high. I think that says something about our sport.

You know, despite all the gloom and doom we hear in the news, interest in fishing is strong. There were scores of guys congratulating me on my Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title last year and asking about the upcoming Classic as well as how to catch bass. What that says is that they are following our sport. They're interested in what's going on in competitive bass fishing.

And they're buying, too. I can't begin to estimate how many Sexy Shad crankbaits I signed or how many Bronzeye Frogs Dean Rojas signed. That's a good thing because it demonstrates that despite some of our country's economic issues, demand for fishing products is still good.

I also saw the same thing at a show near Detroit this year. Detroit is one of the hardest hit areas of the nation. Despite that, the crowds were big and sales were good. This industry and sport isn't in as bad a shape as many people would have you believe.

And another thing: I had at least a dozen guys come up to me in Richmond and talk about the Marshal Program. They were registered for the Smith Mountain event in April. It was obvious they were excited about the learning opportunity that was headed their way. That tells me that we're on the right track there, too.

All in all, I believe we're in fairly good shape. I'm not saying that there aren't problems. I am saying, however, that things are better than the naysayers would have you believe.

Another example of all this is tournament registration. Every tournament trail I know about is full. Many of them have a waiting list. Again, that says something. Guys want to fish. That's not a figment of my imagination. It's a fact. If they didn't want to fish — or they couldn't fish for economic or other reasons — they wouldn't sign up.

Besides an interest in fishing, there's something else pushing us forward — the information age. Years ago if I wanted information on the Red River, or any other place or fishing topic, I'd have to know someone or call around and talk to tackle shops or maybe guides. (And I'd have to hope they knew what they were talking about.)

But I don't do that now. Instead, I Google "Red River" and search my way through 21 million hits. Of course, I can't use all that info, but it's available. And if I want I can go to Bassmaster.com and get the tournament records of nearly every angler who ever fished a BASS tournament.

Add to that the excellent fishing information available in Bassmaster Magazine, Bassmaster.com and BASS Insider and you have a complete information system.

We're doing just fine. Don't let anyone tell you different.

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