Resolved: I will join a bass club

New Year's means resolutions, and no resolutions are quite as important as fishing resolutions. Sure, you can vow to lose weight, get to work earlier and spend more "quality" time with the wife, but the truth is those kind of resolutions rarely make it to the end of the month.

In our "Resolved" series, we're going to help you keep the resolutions that really matter. This installment is one of the biggest — joining a bass club.

Jon Stewart is the B.A.S.S. Nation senior manager and a veteran in all things about bass clubs. Before coming to B.A.S.S., Jon was a leader in the Kansas B.A.S.S. Nation and served as that state's president. He'll tell us how to find the right club for you. Here are Jon's five reasons to join a B.A.S.S. club.

1. The camaraderie

"For some bass anglers out there, it might be tough to find others who are just as passionate about the sport as you are," Stewart says. "That's where a bass club comes in. Join and you'll soon have lots of friends who love it as much as you do and who want to go out and spend time on the water."

2. The education

"Bass clubs are great resources for learning more about your local fisheries and the best techniques in your area," Stewart notes. "Through tournaments or just fun fishing, you'll get a real education on area waters and the methods that work best there."

3. The competition

"If you enjoy competition, bass clubs are a great outlet," according to Stewart. "Most hold tournaments at least once a month or so, and the members are usually some of the very best sticks on local waters, so you can learn while you're out there competing."

4. The Classic

"One of the most exciting reasons to join a B.A.S.S. Nation club is the chance to compete in BN tournaments and earn a berth in the Bassmaster Classic," says Stewart. "The Classic is the Super Bowl of bass fishing, and every year six Nation anglers have the chance to win half a million dollars and a place in history."

5. The future

"B.A.S.S. Nation anglers give back to the sport through their conservation and youth efforts," says Stewart. "These programs are the future of bass fishing, and no group does as much to ensure a bright future as the BN. If you're interested in making a real contribution to bass fishing in the coming years, you need to join a bass club."

Now you're up to speed on why you need to join a B.A.S.S. Nation club, but you're only halfway there. You want to join the "right" club. Two clubs can be equally great, but they might not be equally great for you. Here are some tips for finding the right "fit."

The next steps

1. Get in touch

"Call the state B.A.S.S. Nation president for your state," Stewart says. "He can give you the contact information for the clubs in your area and can probably answer questions you may have about certain clubs, like how active they are in the state, how many members they typically carry on their roster and things like that."

2. What do you want?

"To make the right decision and join the right club, you have to decide what you personally would like out of your club membership," says Stewart. "Do you want to be active in conservation, youth and charity, or do you just want to fish?"

3. Call the club prez

"After you've decided what you want, call the club president and ask questions about how active they are in conservation, youth and charity events," Stewart suggests. "Ask for specifics on what they do or support. Ask what lakes they fish and how the club is toward teaching or sharing information with new members."

4. Room for one more?

"Find out how many members the club has and ask if they're taking new members," Stewart says. "If they are, ask them if there is a membership cap. Sometimes you'll run across a club that only has six or eight members, and they aren't really looking for new members. This type of club is usually just for guys that want to compete and advance up through the tournaments. It may not be the best situation for a new member just starting out. This club would be for the more experienced angler that just wants to fish. If you find a club that has 15 to 20 members that does all of the things mentioned above, such as conservation, youth, charity and competition, you're more apt to run into members that are willing to teach and share information with you."

5. Budget wisely

"Try to pick a club close to where you live," Stewart says. "If you're far away from the home base of your club, you'll be driving to every club event or tournament. If you live near the home base, you can share expenses with your fellow club members. Also, be sure to find out how much the club, state and national dues are. Find out if the club has tournament entry fees and how members typically share expenses. The club president should be able to give you a realistic estimate of what you'll spend per year and per tournament."

Originally published Jan. 2011.

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