I recently returned from the 2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. I was up there for a day doing some public relations work, answering questions and hanging out with the anglers. I’m sure they got something out of it, but maybe not as much as me.
They were in Kentucky and fished the Green River Lake. It’s been hot and dry up there for a while, and it was supposed to rain pretty much all day on Thursday. I got a lot of questions about how extreme weather changes like that affect the fish. The only answer I could give them was based on my home lake, Lake Guntersville.
I’ve seen days here when it was hot and dry, and you couldn’t find a bass out deep. I’d motor over place after place and see nothing on my Garmin units, and believe me if they don’t show something it’s not there. But then, it would start raining or the wind would start blowing real hard, and I’d go back to the same places and the bass were stacked up all over the place.
My theory is that even deep bass are sensitive to weather changes. I don’t have any scientific evidence to back that statement up, but my experience tells me it’s true. So, I was sure that despite the tough practice most of the college anglers had that they’d catch them when the tournament started and the weather changed.
But that’s not all we talked about. A surprising number of them want to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series. As you might expect, most of the questions they asked me were about qualifying. I answered those questions, but I also explained to them that professional bass fishing isn’t college bass fishing.
In college a lot of us knew each other, we were all about the same age and most of us did the same things. Very few of us had any real money. It was kind of like a fraternity. Professional fishing is nothing like that.
The professional level is all about serious. True, we all get along and some of us are friends, but it’s not the same. My life and my goals are very different from those of an angler looking to retire or one who has years of experience under his belt as well as several prestigious titles on his mantle.
The other thing I talked about was money. I impressed on them that qualifying for the Elites was about more than having a successful year in the Opens. Catching bass is just the first step. Shortly after that happens, you’ll receive an email wanting the first deposit for the entry fees into the Elites. That’s when things get serious, and you realize the importance of having some cash in the bank and some sponsors to back your career.
I’m not complaining. I love what I do, and I feel blessed to be able to do it. At the same time, though, I have to admit to feeling a longing for my college days. I had a heck of a lot of fun back then.