It’s different, but it’s the same

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Andy Crawford

My season hasn’t started the way I wanted. I’ve had two bad first days in a row, and when you’re fishing in this group that’s all it takes — one bad day — to spell your doom. I’d like to blame it on the weather and changes in conditions but that would just be an excuse, not a reason. I’m a professional. I’m supposed to make it happen. I didn’t.

But that’s not what I want to talk about in this column.

It’s impossible for me to tell you how many times I’ve been asked about the “new” Bassmaster Elite Series — what the anglers are like, how it’s going and what I think about it now that it’s underway. 

I’m going to answer that question in an honest and straightforward way: It’s different, but it’s the same. 

It’s different

It’s different because there’s a different attitude and atmosphere. The guys who are fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series are, in many cases, younger and less experienced. They’re happy to be here. They appreciate the opportunity, and they want to perform and prove their worth. They’re willing to work hard towards that end. 

Younger and less experienced doesn’t mean less productive, however. A quick look at the overall weights in both of the events so far shows that our guys can figure them out and make whatever adjustments are necessary.

Watching them has been interesting to me. They approach fishing differently. They’ll look at a river or lake and do things that other anglers won’t or haven’t even thought about. They go to different types of places and fish with different lures. They’re less structured in how they go about things. Like I just said, though, they get it done.    

At the same time there’s more of a group feeling when it comes to what we’re doing. I see genuine happiness in their faces even when another angler catches a big sack and has obviously pulled ahead. They know that’ll help their careers in the future. 

It’s been said that some of them will learn as they go along. That’s true, no doubt. But it’s also true that some of us who’ve been around longer will learn from them — in a lot of cases the hard way. 

It’s been my pleasure to fish against them. 

It’s the same

It’s the same because it’s still a fishing tournament that’s won or lost by how big your five best bass are each day, and then your cumulative overall weight. It doesn’t matter about the name of the other anglers. They are who they are, but you still have to bring more weight to the scales than they do to win, or earn Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points, or make a check. 

This is a competitive sport. Despite all the good feelings and group mentality these guys understand that. They’ll eat your lunch if they can. 

There’s no doubt that some of the new guys will rise to the top quickly, establish themselves as great professionals and then develop a media personality. We’ll all get an opportunity to do that thanks to B.A.S.S. and the way they’re handling things.

The way I see it things are as good, or better, than they ever have been. And so I’ll answer the question I asked at the beginning a little different: It’s different, and it’s the same, and it’s great! 

Don’t blend.