Some thoughts about Don Barone

I just hit publish on the last regularly scheduled Don Barone story that will be on It hit me as I was preparing it that I should write some words down about him and that I should give some others the opportunity to do the same. I reached out to some of his friends and subjects, the Editor of Jim Sexton, former Elite Series angler Kevin Short and current one Brandon Palaniuk (plus a few others!). Don (who told me never to call him Don) has left his mark on a whole bunch of people, and I think it’s worth reflecting on that here. 

Mike Suchan

JM Outdoors Writer/Editor

As db’s first editor at, I prepared his raw copy for publication. And I mean raw. He was awful on grammar and punctuation, but he was awfully adept in his ability to tell a story. He’d meet with someone for a couple hours and really dig inside their head. His articles illuminated the folks in the bass fishing industry, their stresses, struggles and successes, and most every time elicited tears.

Dave Mercer

B.A.S.S. Emcee

Unlike most of us Don did not love bass fishing before covering it. But as he covered it, he clearly fell in love with the people. One by one, the more stories Don penned the more he fell in love. Before he knew it Don was no different than all of us; he loved bass fishing & his words helped countless others fall in love with bass fishing too! 

Thanks DB 

Kevin Short

Elite Series pro

I had no idea who Barone was the first time he got into my boat. It was an eye-opening experience. We came from different worlds- I didn’t know anyone like him. Over the years we became good friends and I loved hearing his stories. 

To me, the best thing Barone did was figure out he couldn’t compete with writers like Louie Stout about the baits and techniques in fishing. He realized there were other stories out there that weren’t being told. 

Not a lot of people were asking us “why are you doing this?” and “Who are you?” 

He asked those questions.

That’s what he did at ESPN, and that’s what he did at B.A.S.S.

He brought the anglers to the fans as people. Who we are and why we do it. He has left a trail of awesome work for fans to read for the last 14 years.

Brandon Palaniuk

Elite Series pro

DB is one of a kind in this world!  

He has sat in rooms with some of the worlds top athletes across various sports but he has always stayed true to his writing.  He was never interested in the numbers, the scoreboard, or the time clock.  He is interested in what makes you tick in your heart and soul no matter what level of the sport you are at.

His writing is unorthodox in structure, but it is real and why I think it resonates.  When you read his work it feels relatable, honest and heartfelt.  I feel lucky to have gotten to know him over my career at B.A.S.S.

Jim Sexton

Editor of

When I started at in 2011 I inherited Don Barone. All I knew was that he had come from ESPN and I could use him as I saw fit. Some people loved his work, some thought it was weird. I wasn’t sure what to make of db for a while. His writing style was different from anything I had worked with. It reminded me of Hunter S. Thompson and his gonzo journalism. You might call it stream-of-conscience. That impression was reinforced when I met db in person, with his long flowing hair. 

He was allergic to bosses, and I was his new boss. 

I wasn’t comfortable editing his stories. Adding AP Style would mess up the whole vibe. And honestly, adding proper grammar meant that I’d be completely rewriting the stories. I didn’t have time for that, this being the internet and all. Yes, db was allergic to grammar too. 

So, I left db alone for about a year. I liked some of his stories a lot. Others were fine. No writer knocks it out of the park on every story. Particularly someone who writes 50-60 stories a year.  

But then I remembered that sometimes an editor just needs to step away from the keyboard and let a writer be himself. And with that decision some magic happened. Barone wrote about life and love, hard times and the human condition. Topics no one else in fishing was touching. He never wrote about how to catch a bass, he didn’t know how, but he dove deep into the story lines that make fishing meaningful. And, leaning on his ESPN experience, Barone put competitive bass fishing into the context of the broader sports world. 

He loved the anglers, he loved the fans even more, and he loved B.A.S.S. 

For all of that I’m very thankful. Db added a layer to that was different, and in the cookie cutter world of internet content, different is good.  

Thanks db. You’ve had an impact on a lot of people. Gonna miss you. Please stay in touch. 

Chris Mitchell

B.A.S.S Digital Product Manager

Don Barone is a person who does not care about spelling things properly, holds in contempt well-established rules of grammar and is an absolute menace to edit and publish.

He’s also one of my favorite human beings. Barone is eloquent, bold, caring and brave. He’s been a friend and a coworker for almost ten years. He wrote about me when I told him I was going to be a father. He was one of the first to reach out after I lost both my parents. In a world where we say we care, and we hit a like button to show it, Barone actually does. 

He’s written some things that I thought were nonsense. And he’s written some things that I think are poetry. When my email box lights up with 2000 words about…something and about 10 images to intersperse, I am filled with dread at the work, but hope at getting to read what he’s on about now. 

More times than not, he taught me something. He made me think about something differently. He made me care about something. Is there a higher praise to give a writer? 

I’m proud to have been a part of publishing his work. But more than that, I’m proud to call him a friend, and to know him like I do. You do too. If you’ve read him, you know him. 

There won’t be another Barone on Bassmaster next year. Or anywhere. There’s only one, and I’m so glad I got to meet him.

Here’s every story we have from him on Bassmaster: I know there were some on ESPN, but this should be most of his work. I suggest you pick a random one and read it. 

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