As you read this, we're in the second day of the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series opener on the Harris Chain of Lakes in central Florida. Hopefully, I'm catching 'em!
But whether I'm having a good tournament or not, I want to tell you that I'm really excited about this year, this season and the way things are shaping up for our sport and our industry.
We had an unbelievable Bassmaster Classic and Expo in New Orleans. Attendance was great and the crowds were upbeat and enthusiastic.
The fishing on the Delta — even after Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill — was nothing short of outstanding! All sorts of records were broken, and we proved beyond any doubt that the Delta is alive and very well.
If you haven't seen the television coverage of the Classic on ESPN2, you missed a great show — six hours of show, in fact. It really put you out on the water and let you see what the anglers were doing in amazing detail.
One of the coolest things about this year's Classic was the coverage here on Bassmaster.com. It seemed like we had it from every angle online — with daily columns from the regular columnists who were competing, to live blogs from the water during competition, to up-to-the-minute videos behind the scenes and on the water, to the live streaming weigh-in and leaderboard.
You could actually "watch" the Classic better from your computer screen than you could from the water!
It might be easy to lose a little momentum after such an exciting Classic, but it's not happening. From the Elite anglers to the sponsors to the fans, the excitement is still there and building. Part of the reason is B.A.S.S.'s new ownership.
Jim Copeland, Don Logan and Jerry McKinnis have a plan for B.A.S.S., and we're all optimistic about the direction they've chosen. In them, I think we have partners who will help to grow the sport and build the industry. That's important. In today's world, if you're not moving ahead, you're falling behind, and no one wants that.
The economy is looking up, too. I know that everyone is cautious about our economic recovery, but I'm absolutely optimistic about it. If you saw the Classic Expo or attended any of the big tackle shows around the country, you would be, too. Not only were they crowded, but the people there were buying things, and that means a lot to all of us.
If you looked at the Day 1 standings from this event, you probably saw a lot of names that were new to you. That's because we have 15 anglers who are new to the Elite Series, and that says great things about our league and our future. If there are 15 guys out there ready to make the commitment to compete at this level — and it's a huge personal, family and financial commitment — then things are definitely looking up. I hope they all have a lot of success, and I welcome them to the Elites.
Maybe the biggest thing that has me excited about the new season is something that's hard to put your finger on — the "buzz." It's everywhere and coming from everyone! You can definitely feel new life in our sport and our industry.
I hope you feel it, too.
It's just another reminder that it's all about the attitude.