This week we're going to pay tribute to the Tuesday night tournaments here in Columbus. What I have to say about them can be repeated around the country a thousand times. They really are the backbone of our sport.
I fished the first one when I was 14 years old. I had a tournament-ready fishing boat but not a driver's license. My mother was an alcoholism counselor. She would take her recovering alcoholics who had an interest in the outdoors and let them fish with me. It was a kind of reward for staying sober. It was perfect. I had the boat; they had the truck to tow it with. Nowadays I suppose no one would do that, what with all the weirdoes running around. But back then it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. No one thought anything of it.
Anyway, I've been fishing them for decades now. They are truly one of the fun things I do on the water. I don't always win — the idea that Elite Series anglers can dominate a fruit jar circuit is a myth — but I always have fun. And, contrary to popular belief, the guys welcome me with open arms. In fact, they passed a special rule so that I could compete in the point's race during the year. If I can't fish because I'm off somewhere else competing in a tournament, I still get the show-up points. How cool is that?
The reason I'm talking about this is because I want all you guys who read my blog to think about joining a local tournament circuit. It doesn't have to be big or fancy. Just join a club or a group and go somewhere so you can fish competitively on a regular basis. It'll make you a better angler. You'll have a chance to watch the fish move during the different seasons of the year. That's invaluable information. That movement will also force you to fish different types of cover and structure with different lures and different techniques. You won't be able to throw the same bait every time you go fishing, at least not if you expect to win anything. At the same time you'll be able to spend time with good bass fishermen.
Don't kid yourself: There's are a lot of great anglers out there who never get to fish professionally, but that doesn't mean you can't learn from them. You can. Most of all, however, you should fish a local circuit because it's fun. Over the years you'll develop friendships and relationships that will mean the world to you. Your good times and good memories will multiply like you can't believe. The longer you do it the better it'll get. I know. I've been fishing the local stuff here on Tuesday nights for about 34 years. I hope to be fishing it for another 34. It's the highlight of my week.