I’ve been at this professional fishing thing for quite a few years now, and I’ve been very blessed to witness many historical changes, and advancements over the years. Coming off of ICAST 2016 a month ago, and the Triton Boats dealer conference last week, I've noticed a positive shift in the energy of the industry, and I wanted to talk about that.
We all recall the economy crisis seven to eight years ago, when the fishing and boating industries took a massive hit. In fact, many estimated that it would take at least a decade to recover; fortunately we’re ahead of that estimation. ICAST was full of new innovative products, manufacturer enthusiasm was high and the overall mood was indicative of an industry that has recovered.
I've never seen so many enthusiastic young anglers at the show this year. We heard so many cool stories and saw so many big fish pictures from kayak fishing in skinny water. It honestly made me feel like we were missing out on something.
Robin and I ordered some custom Wilderness kayaks for our family, and hopefully we will have some cool videos coming your way this fall. The enthusiasm from these kids was so contagious that it made me want to get involved with what they're all doing. I've heard that several of the best college anglers started in kayaks, and moved up to big Triton bass boats a few years later. A kayak is a great learning tool and angling method for a serious fisherman!
B.A.S.S. has also embraced the growing excitement with the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops and the Costa Bassmaster High School series. B.A.S.S. realized that there was a need to start a planter program that could not only feed the future classes of Bassmaster Elite Series’, but to also feed the industry with lifetime consumers.
Another thing I’ve noticed is how many young anglers have taken to social media platforms like YouTube to engage other young, passionate anglers. Many of these kids have gained impressive followings by posting cool short videos of fish catches. They've also learned how to critique new products for sponsors and sell them on the same video! It's just another indicator that this generation of anglers is very computer savvy. It’s how they consume information, and I feel it is important to serve and invest in this new generation of fisherman.
Robin and I are excited to be at the ground level so we can do our part to cultivate this generation’s passions, and learn how to help make it the best it can be. Our boys could be fishing at college in the years to come, so it'll be cool watching the sport evolve as they get to that age.
We've got to remember that these young anglers are going to grow up, and eventually buy a boat and fish tournaments. These kids will become an important part of the economy one day, and will represent the next generation to inherit America’s fishing.
I want us all to encourage them to pursue their dreams, and help educate them on conservation and ethics, and to be a resource to help them along the way. My goal is to grow my social presence, with more entertainment and education, and hopefully encourage these kids to follow our lead, that's what legacy is all about!
As pro anglers, we have a huge opportunity right now to invest in the future of the sport. I think it’s our obligation to make sure there is an abundance of healthy fisheries to pass on, but to also cultivate the passion of the next generation of anglers. Are you ready for the challenge?
Good luck and God bless!