Conservation at the 2009 Classic

For the past two days, BASS Times has covered the BASS Conservation Workshop, an event that was put together by Chris Horton, BASS national conservation director. You won't see any of this stuff televised on ESPN because, quite frankly, resource conservation is not a glamorous endeavor.

 It's boring for the most part. But it's an absolutely essential part of the Bassmaster Classic.

 The movers and shakers of our sport assemble here each year to discuss the issues of greatest concern. Among the topics addressed during this year's conference have been tournament fish care, resource management issues and upcoming political battles that promise to impact anglers nationwide. You'll read more about these in upcoming issues of BASS Times.

 As boring as they sometimes are, though, these meetings can be compelling. But the mind wanders at times. I looked around the room yesterday and was reminded of one of Edward Abbey's characters in the Monkeywrench Gang.

 No, not because anyone in attendance was the kind to torch billboards along Interstate 40 or blow up Glen Canyon Dam but strictly because of the name. Seldom Seen.

 These men and women operate in the shadows, preferring a good crusade over a public parade. And, fortunately, they apparently don't mind the anonymity.

 PowerPoint presentations. Paperwork. Uncomfortable chairs behind rows of tables. Agenda items. Deserving causes. Losing battles. This blog is about the Seldom Seen at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.

 When their day is done, they break for lunch. Eat buffet food and bad brownies. And later they melt into the weigh-in crowd in Shreveport, unnoticed and unappreciated.

 But their crusade is far more important than the day's hottest lure or the $500,000 winner's check. While the ESPN cameras focus on the glitz and glamour of bass fishing, the Seldom Seen are focused on the future of the sport.

 Collectively, they are a mixed lot. Successful businessmen from your communities. Your friends and neighbors. The guy down the street or the fellow you might meet at the launch ramp that's willing to lend a helping hand just because he's a good guy. All are driven by the unselfish belief that they can and will make a difference.

 They are the leaders of the BASS Federation Nation.

 The word "hero" is subject to interpretation in this sport. Whoever wins the Classic will be called a hero.

 But for me, the real heroes are always going to be the Seldom Seen. Those who leave this sport better because they were there.