Schooled on bass

Lots of things to talk about today and my tennis shoes haven't hit the ground since the holidays. Most of my time has been spent on business things. But I did slow down long enough to put a day's worth of work in Shreveport at one of Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek's Bass University seminars.

These are pretty intense teaching seminars that are certainly worth the time and money for someone who's trying to step up their level in bass fishing. It was a pleasure talking to this group about something other than memberships, tournament formats, traveling schedule, etc. ... I talked about the thing that interests me the most — bass and how to fool those little suckers.

I use to participate in teaching events lots back in the '70s and '80s and as I looked at the crowd in Shreveport, I realized it was the same group of people that I talked to 30 and 40 years ago. They were 99 percent male, 2 percent youngsters and 100 percent looking for the same thing, something that would give them an edge when it came time to catch one more green fish.

Kevin Short and Randy Howell were up before me talking about several very interesting subjects, and I sat in the back of the crowd concentrating on every word that was said. You see, I'm 74 years old, but whenever I get the chance, I want to learn more about bass fishing and become better at it myself. I'm kind of proud of that fact. I'm proud that I've had that desire since I was 10 years old and it has never changed. Are some of you in that same boat?

Then, it was my turn. I have to tell you I really enjoyed looking in those faces, especially several high school kids and some college anglers. I talked about how I thought they should use the info that Kevin and Randy had just laid on them. How it could possibly take a year's worth of hard work to benefit from any one or two subjects that they had just been exposed to.

You always have to remember a true professional angler puts in maybe 300 days or more on the water sharpening their (most likely) natural ability, and you are not going to duplicate what they do over the next two weekends. But that's all right. You've got the right information and plenty of time to perfect it.

I also talked about there being no shortcuts to becoming a better bass fisherman. If anyone thinks they've got that secret lure or seldom used method that might allow you to pay no attention to Kevin Short, Randy Howell or any of the truly great anglers, you need to cut and run. Run fast!

Here's a good example — we have several young rookie pros in the Bassmaster Elite Series mix this year (Jonathon Van Dam, Brandon Palaniuk, etc.). What they will learn this coming season will probably take a full year to start benefiting them. Now these guys are truly good bass fishermen, but quite honestly, they'll probably get beat up in their first year. My point here is, regardless of your level, no shortcut in the world will enable you to skip a step. It's going to take some time.

Speaking of "getting to the point," I need to do that, and here we go.

Bass fishing is something we all put lots of time and effort into. Just look at the business side of it. Look at how the industry has several major boat companies with large staffs and budgets towards manufacturing bass boats. Not boats, but a boat about one species of fish.

There's trailer and tow vehicles, electronics, rods and reels and so on and so on, all because of one species of fish. Then there are articles, books, seminars, television shows, instructional videos, magazines, e-mails, conference calls and so on and so on, all because of one species of fish. One species of fish that makes you compete, makes you calculate, frustrates the heck out of you and gives you peace and satisfaction.

All this coming from a green bass that normally doesn't weigh but one and a half pounds, travels around the world and lives exactly like he did 40 years ago when I was talking to groups of anglers as if I knew exactly how to catch him.

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