MONROE, La. — The B.A.S.S. Federation Nation has expanded into one of the most renowned bass fishing countries in Europe.
Spain has been accepted as the newest member of the Federation Nation, as was announced during the 2011 Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter.
“I am happy to see us spread the B.A.S.S. brand into Europe,” said Don Corkran, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation director. “I am excited to have another European Federation. It gives us two [international Federation Nations] in Europe, two in Africa, one in Canada, one in Japan and one in Mexico.”
Spain has long been considered a potential hotspot for B.A.S.S.’s expansion into the Old World. “Some of the best bass fishing in Europe is in Spain,” said Corkran. “When I was there [in 1989], it was thought of as the best bass fishing area in Europe.”
Corkran noted that B.A.S.S. has been trying throughout the years to establish a Federation Nation in Spain. “The first time I had a conversation with somebody from Spain probably was 15 years ago,” he said. “We tried to get a Spain Federation Nation established way before Italy came on board. We just didn’t have the right person leading the initiative to see it through to completion.”
Spain now has the right person in Xavier Gonzalez-Mestre M.D., a member of the A.D. Caspe club. Gonzalez-Mestre caught his first bass on a Hula Popper in 1968 and has been bass fishing ever since.
Gonzalez-Mestre describes Spain’s movement to join the Federation Nation as a cooperative effort. “In the AEBass forum back in 2009, Juan Palma ‘sounded the bugle,’ Rafa Repiso pointed to Sergio Longas, and Sergio got in touch with Don Corkran, who sent an old roster of Spanish bass fishermen,” said Gonzalez-Mestre. “From there on, Sergio got Lincoln Laborda and Jesus Asin to cooperate, but their efforts were hindered by their jobs, and at the end of 2010, Sergio thought of me. What I did was gather the information, put some order in it and sent it to Florida where Don, Jon Stewart and Deb Wilkinson made the dream come true.”
Gonzalez-Mestre needed a minimum of 60 anglers to start a Spain Federation Nation. “When he got to 60, he asked if they could be a Federation Nation, but I said I wanted them to get into the 80 to 100 range because I didn’t want them to be in a situation where they would lose two or three members and immediately lose their status,” said Corkran.
Spain now has 78 prospective members and rising, according to Gonzalez-Mestre. “It is snowballing.”
The Spanish Fisheries Office of the National Parks Government Department introduced bass from the USA in 1955-’56 to increase sportfishing into fisheries that became too hot to support trout in the summertime. “In Spain, there are 240 dams of different sizes where you can find bass,” said Gonzalez-Mestre. “The five best are big lakes [Cijara, Garcia Sola, Navallana, Mequinenza and Riba-roja] and as the spawning season is protected, the fishing is pretty good.” One national tournament and 19 regional events are held in the country every year.
The newest Federation Nation should have a strong recruiting base. “There are more than 70 bass clubs in Spain,” said Gonzalez-Mestre. “My idea is to get them all to join the Federation Nation, and I know that many of their members want to be able to participate in the Federation Nation tournaments in the States.”
Lincoln Laborda will serve as the Spain Federation Nation youth director. He noted many of his country’s bass anglers fish from the bank, but more bass boats are starting to show up on the lakes. Spain also has several anglers who have been longtime B.A.S.S. members, according to Laborda.