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  • Randy Brandenburg of Frisco, TX writes:

    RE: Balog on marketing – If I am fishing from a boat, then I am fishing with a guide. So, whatever we are using of his that are catching them, then you know what happens next – that's what I go buy. Don't underestimate the selling power of a really good guide.

  • Johnny McLean of Little Rock, ARkansas writes:

    RE: Balog on marketing – Good article, Joe. I tend to pick a couple of pros who I think are authentic and will buy what they recommend. These pros will usually even recommend some baits from companies that do not sponsor them. I agree with you on the Dude Wipes and some of the pros like Shaw Grigsby are just over the top with plugging their sponsors on their TV shows. Also, I tend to look at how often a guy changes sponsors over the years – if you are touting X brand as the best and then a year or two year later you are touting Y brand, I don't put too much stock in your touting.

  • Zach Maisch of Lima, OH writes:

    RE: Balog on marketing – Joe, I think one of the most important things in advertising that you missed are the way websites like BassFan, Bassmaste, and FLW cover tournament results. Each go in depth with the winner and top 5 finishers of each major tournament about lures, gear, and techniques. These articles are then online and searchable years later. I think this has honestly become the largest means of advertising for bass anglers that can be attributed to the purchase of specific items.

  • W.M. Oppelt of Frankfort, IN writes:

    RE: Legend exemptions – No, I am not in favor of adding two slots to the Classic. I understand that some folks would like to see this, time marches on. The Classic has now been opened up way beyond what it was intended to be. It was always the best of the best each year. This appears to not be the case. The cost alone for the Elite folks to try and get to the Classic is an overwhelming burden to bear. A free pass out of fondness is not what is needed at this time. If anything, less should be the choice.

  • Hal McCullough of Pell City, AL writes:

    RE: Balog on top-tour debate – I have fished both sides of the fence. B.A.S.S. wont do anything unless you are in the clique. FLW helped me quite a bit with sponsors and few cliques. Bottom line, you have to sell yourself to get anywhere!

  • Ben Clark of Smithfield, VA writes:

    RE: Horton's determination – We are pulling for you, Tim! Good luck in 2017 and War Eagle!

  • Rob Dixon of Lewistown, PA writes:

    Bass fishing and auto racing are the only two sports where one can literally buy their way into the pros. Entry fee's for one division of the Opens is almost 5 grand for three tournaments, then you figure a low-ball estimate on travel and expenses is another 2 grand (probably more for most) and that's just to try for one season to qualify for the Elites. That's out of reach for 90 percent of the anglers out there. Then you have several guys in their early 20s who are spending loads of family money to have new boats, new trucks, entry into all three Open divisions, and a week or more of pre-fishing for each event and they feel like they've accomplished some major task when they qualify for the Elite Series. Most of the guys who regularly get Top 30s in BFLs would qualify too if they had the same opportunity.

    There needs to be some sort of intermediate division with two-day tournaments and $500 entry fees that offers a path to the Elites, or free entry into the Opens the next season along with a cash payout for winning a tournament or something along those lines. We might as well start calling it the Bassmaster Financially Elite Series if it continues to go the way it's been going the past 10 years.

  • Dean Coleman of Humble, TX writes:

    RE: B.A.S.S. Nation Championship – Ryan Lavigne ... amazing! Congrats on an incredible win on a notoriously tough fishery. Go win the Classic, man!

  • Steven Rockweiler of Luling, LA writes:

    RE: B.A.S.S. Nation Championship – Congrats to fellow Ascension Area Anglers club member Ryan Lavigne! What a tournament at Conroe, winning the co-angler side out the back of the boat, and then winning the tournament on the third day out of his boat. This makes three members to qualify for the Elites this coming year, with Gerald Spohrer and Robbie Latuso. We also had another member go to the Classic a few years ago, Jamie Laiche ... and several state champs.

    A fisherman has to get up early to try and beat this crowd. Wishing them all great success in the coming year!

  • David James Gibson of Greensboro, NC writes:

    RE: Grigsby's special opportunity – I met Shaw Grigsby several years ago when he came to High Rock Lake and Greensboro, N.C. He was so down to earth and friendly. He and Gary Klein (who was with him) are awesome ambassadors for the sport of fishing.

  • Jon Acree of Hawthorne, FL writes:

    RE: B.A.S.S. Nation Championship – I feel the same way about the Opens. The no-name boaters and non-boaters get herded through the weigh-in like cattle while the big-name pro gets plenty of air time. Seems like the tournament directors forget where B.A.S.S. came from.

  • Dennis Pentecost of Milford, IL writes:

    RE: B.A.S.S. Nation Championship – All B.A.S.S. Nation and B.A.S.S. members should be upset about the lack of coverage and updates of this grassroots tournament! They did not even bring the other two guys who made the Classic up on stage after the weigh-in. We are not bass fishermen to them anymore, just customers.

  • Tim Farruggio of Long Branch, NJ writes:

    I've been saying for years that B.A.S.S. and FLW honchos should be paying a salary of sorts or some kind of compensation to their players. I bet there is plenty of money at the top to do this. Randy Blaukat is spot-on that this sport's costs are out of control. B.A.S.S. and FLW know this, but really don't care. It's dog eat dog.

    Maybe the pros get together and go on strike – stick together on this. I would be perfectly happy to not see any TV fishing for awhile if this is what it takes to make these big shots listen. No players, no game.

    BassFan says: Professional bass fishermen are not a labor force – they're all independent contractors, and it's mostly dog-eat-dog among their ranks as well. A tournament boycott would not benefit the sport's top performers whatsoever and therefore is extremely unlikely to occur. No game, no tournament winnings, no sponsorship exposure ... no good.

  • George Foster of Pineville, NC writes:

    RE: Hamilton to run tin rig – This is great! I have been fishing out of an Xpress since 2003 and love everything about it. I have never had the pleasure of fishing out of their biggest top-of-the-line boats, but have been in one and love the layout of the boat and all the storage. They are second to none.

    I hope this young fellow is good enough to hang around a few years and show the world the greatness of Xpress boats!

  • Lewis R. Lolley of Geneva, AL writes:

    RE: Owens plays at Zebco – I read your article on Shane – as you got to see him, that is his everyday appearance. I have known him most of my life and he is always smiling, happy, and helps anyone he can. Watching him growing up and being able to listen to him sing on the back of trailers on a riverbank to now seeing his music being loved by millions, he hasn't changed any. Thank you guys for allowing him to sing for you.

  • Austin Spain of Bedford, IN writes:

    RE: KY Lake DQ dispute – This is such a sad story and it really brings out the worst in people. I hate what has happened to Kevin and Kenny, but that being said, here is the bottom line: Rules cannot be broken and ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    I truly believe that Kenny, Kevin and Mark Dove were ignorant of the rule – they had no clue it was a rule. But John Devries did. He said he knew it was a rule violation before they did it and he knew that they should've called the director. John is a stickler on the Anglers Dream rules. He has fished the Anglers Dream every year and has protested other people almost every year. Even this year he protested and got another team DQd from fishing the event over a minor rule violation.

    No one is above the rules and it sucks, but they knew what happened and Mark is trying to pull a fast one by playing the victim. Very, very sad.

  • Mike Thompson of Orleans, IN writes:

    RE: KY Lake DQ dispute – Looks like they broke the rules and the tournament director did the right thing. If the rules say you have to fish blindfolded all day and you sign and agree to that, then you have to do that. And if you don't, you will be disqualified.

  • Tim Farruggio of Long Branch, NJ writes:

    RE: Balog on top-tour debate – B.A.S.S. Elite anglers are absolutely not better fishermen than the FLW pros. Probably the reason guys have been switching to B.A.S.S. is they don't have to contend with the co-angler situation. Like you said, FLW pros have more lines in the water, plus they visit the same waters and that makes it hard to compete – less fish for everyone. B.A.S.S. does not share that problem.

    I would venture to say it would be a tie as far as the talent level on both tours. I do admire the pros on both – it's a hard way to make a living! I could fish 365 days a year, but I would not want to fish for a living.

  • Steven Kirby of Columbus, GA writes:

    The results of the Anglers Dream tourney and its subsequent DQs are a sad outcome and a lesson for TDs who fail to weigh angler safety against the eventual outcome. The "better" trails and circuits provide for breakdowns and they never require abandonment of a competitor's vessel. Some, such as AD, do provide for tows but few, if any, provide for a delayed outcome for these same broken down teams to weigh-in. In other words, they tell you to get a tow but fail to provide for a reasonable opportunity to succeed.

    The AD rules also cited a mandatory phone call alerting the fact that they were broken down - why? The fact of the matter is that this requirement depends solely on the premise that all competitors have a cell carrier which has coverage at all venues fished, including KY Lake – not! It's not the competitors' fault that this conclusion was reached, it rests solely in the hands of the TD and whatever control/ruling group is in place.

  • Paul Wallace of Cambridge City, IN writes:

    RE: Balog on top-tour debate – The difference between TV coverage of B.A.S.S. and FLW is like the difference between a live/exciting event and a documentary on something that happened a long time ago. I enjoy watching B.A.S.S. with Sanders and Zona. I can't even find the new FLW with my DVR set to record everything they have on.

    Both have great fishermen ... it's just at this point B.A.S.S. makes them look more professional on TV than FLW does.

    Is Bob Cobb still alive? FLW, hire him quick!!

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