Just enough tourneys

I got a phone call just the other day from my cousin Brian Bown as he was driving home from fishing two bass tournaments at Logan Martin Lake in central Alabama. Not one after another, but two at the same time.

That’s happening a lot these days.

With so many tournaments going on simultaneously, many anglers are paying double and sometimes even triple their entry fees to have a chance at more winnings for a single five-bass limit.

Of course, the number of tournaments happening, coupled with the ease of complaining online, has fueled the 21st century illusion of controversy. “Too many bass tournaments,” the online preachers are screaming. 

But that’s hogwash — and more than that, heavy tournament activity is not even a new occurrence.

When I worked in Columbus, Ga., during the late 1990s and early 2000s, you could fish a Monday-nighter at Lake Harding, a Tuesday-nighter at Lake Oliver and a Wednesday-nighter at Goat Rock Lake. Then for the weekend stretch, you could go back to Lake Oliver on Thursday, back to Lake Harding on Friday and have your pick of tournaments Saturday and Sunday at larger nearby fisheries like West Point Lake and Lake Eufaula.

It was literally a seven-day-a-week pursuit — and this was 20 years ago.

People didn’t complain about it. They loved it. I’m sure if the option had been available to enter multiple tournaments at one time back then, anglers would have been forking over two and three times the money without hesitation.

Truth is, most people love it now. 

But since it’s so easy to log on to a Facebook page or Twitter account and make a self-righteous post condemning the masses, the vocal minority sings louder and more off-key than ever before.

My advice: ignore it.

Or better yet, counter with a question they’ll almost certainly have trouble answering.

Of all the tournaments they’re planning to fish this year, which 10 are they willing to skip?

The most ironic thing about the majority of the complaints I hear is that they come from tournament bass anglers themselves. 

Are those people really worried about the health of bass in public fisheries? Or are they worried about other anglers being in their way when they arrive at their first spot on a tournament morning? 

There’s probably some of both mixed in. But if you fish two tournaments a week and then complain about there being “too many tournaments,” it shouldn’t take you long to find one of the guys responsible for this so-called problem.

He watches you shave in your mirror every morning.

For years, those of us in the fishing community have preached that more people should learn to enjoy the sport we love — and with pandemic closures, there has in fact been an outdoors awakening.

In response to it, we should preach proper fish care. We should sing the praises of catch and release.

One thing we shouldn’t do is tell someone their tournament is the one that makes one too many.