Hackney: College fishing needs coaches

You know, I’ve been thinking about something for a while now. Maybe the holiday season is the time to bring it up. Not much else is happening in fishing, anyway.

This college bass fishing thing is really taking off. I credit B.A.S.S. with that. They’ve done a good job of tapping into the interest that a lot of us always thought was out there. As college bass fishing continues to develop, however, the programs are going to need full-time, professional level coaches.

I’m a huge college football fan. The great teams are characterized by great coaches. Sure, they have super good players but that’s because the coaches recruit them. They spot talent and develop it. And, they put the best of the best players in a position to have a professional career. The players know that, too. That’s why they go to a particular school. Traffic runs both ways on that street. You know what I’m sayin’?

That’s what I want us (pros) to do for bass fishing. Before I get into that, though, I want to take a look at what I see developing in the sport right now.

There’s a first generation of anglers who are still fishing in their 60s and, in some cases, their 70s. That’s fine for now but it’s not going to last. Those of us in the second generation won’t fish that long. Modern professional bass fishing won’t allow it. It’s just too tough.

Experience matters, and so does financial backing, but it doesn’t make up for the wear and tear on your body or the mental exhaustion that comes after years of professional fishing. I can tell you from personal experience that I can’t fish as many tournaments back-to-back as I once did. As hard as it is for me to admit, things aren’t going to get any better.

When the day comes that retirement looks better than competing on the trail, and it will come, I want something else to do. But I don’t want to leave the fishing industry. Coaching fits the bill.

I guess I have enough confidence in myself to think that I could spot and recruit up-and-coming anglers who have what it takes to compete at the highest levels. I could help them develop their natural talents by showing them things they can do to get better and warning them about things that won’t do that.

I’m not the only one that could do that, either. I’ll not mention anyone by name. They can tell us when they’re too old to compete. That’s not for me to say. Nevertheless, we could all put the list together. The names on it would be pretty much the same.

That’s a real talent pool. It’s one that shouldn’t be wasted. Can you imagine Ohio State, Michigan State, Alabama, UCLA or USC being coached by former Classic Champions and Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title holders?

You’ll notice I didn’t mention LSU. I’m hoping that position will be filled in a few years.

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