No help is real help, part 1

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Steve Bowman

We’ve got this “no help” rule in place now, and I think it’s great. There are lots of questions that have to be answered about how it’ll work in practice and a number of decisions that’ll need to be made in the future, but in the end it’ll make us better anglers and our sport will have more credibility.

The thing about it is that it’s really just a natural progression of the sport of professional bass fishing with B.A.S.S. Back when the Bassmaster Elite Series first started I think you could prefish with just about anybody. At least that’s the way I remember it. I know my dad went with me whenever he could. We had some really great trips to some of the best bass lakes in the country. I enjoyed it and wouldn’t trade some of those days for anything.

But that went away, and so did co-anglers and guides and a lot of the other things we did before our tournaments. Over time our individual skills became more and more important. We got less help. In general, B.A.S.S. has made a series of good decisions.

The thing we all need to keep in mind is that this is a sport of professionals. We’re not fishing for fun, even though we may enjoy what we do, and we’re not living the dream, even though the Bassmaster Elite Series may have been our dream long before it happened.

I think I mentioned once before, or maybe it was someone else, that the places we fish seem to fish smaller and smaller every time we visit them. Part of that is because we learn how to fish them but another part of that is that a lot of the guys are getting local information. That local information eliminates a lot of water. There are only so many good spots and good patterns no matter how big the lake or river is we’re fishing.

While we’re on the subject of local information I’d like to say that in many cases it doesn’t help. Why worry about it? I’ve gotten to the point over the years where I don’t ask anybody much of anything.

I did get information back in the day — within the rules — but I’m not sure it helped much. It’s hard to catch somebody else’s fish. Besides that, it sure didn’t help me develop my skills and instincts. That happens when you learn, not when you do what someone else tells you what you should do.

There’s no doubt that there are exceptions to what I just said. I’m sure somebody along the way won a tournament with waypoints and techniques or patterns they were told about. Don’t misunderstand what I just said. I’m not talking about cheating. I’m talking about competing within the rules. But did that make them better fishermen, or more professional? I don’t think that it did. In my mind any information you get cheapens the tournament and our sport in general.

So, as you can tell I’m really a strong supporter of this new rule and I hope it’s enforced to the letter. In the short run it might hurt some of the guys but in the long run it’ll make the sport better, and we’ll all become better anglers out of necessity.

We’ll talk some more about this next week.