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  • Mike Guerra of Las Vegas, NV writes:

    RE: Balog on displacement – Great article. Informative, with factual basis. Balog is spot-on. I'm seeing the same thing happening on the Colorado River lakes – Mead, Mojave and Havasu. Keep up the great job, Mr. Balog.

  • Steven C. Rockweiler of Luling, LA writes:

    RE: Gerald Blanchard dies – He is on the big guy's circuit now ...he is tearing 'em up. I hope he holds a spot for me till I get there! Condolences to the family.

  • Bill Howland of Isle La Motte, VT writes:

    RE: Balog on displacement – Joe, Thanks for your thoughtful review and comments. I appreciate the good use of this report.

  • Matt Mahle of Sunbury, OH writes:

    RE: Balog on displacement – This article hits close to home for my father and I. For years we have looked forward to fishing Ruggles. My father's fishing days are dwindling fast – tournament fishing is something that is getting harder and harder for him to do – but no matter how our season goes I have always taken him up to Ruggles late in the season .. and it has long been the "cherry on top." For years,Thanksgiving weekend has been about giving thanks, family and Ruggles Reef!

    My father and I have logged more trips to Ruggles when we questioned our own sanity than I can count, only to be rewarded with more 5- to 7-pound smallmouth than anyone should be allowed to catch. That, however, has changed dramatically in the last 5 years.

    My father is going to be 68 in a couple weeks and he cannot take the pounding boat rides that Erie dishes out, and Ruggles was the one place I could always take him and he could just enjoy a day of fishing. But for several years now it has been a ghost town, devoid of smallmouth, and unfortunately, now devoid of dad and I.

  • Joe Smith of Lorain, OH writes:

    RE: Balog on displacement – I'm sure there is science to displacement with bass. The real problem with Lake Erie bass is walleye trollers keeping them. For example, if you had to name some of the best remaining areas of Lake Erie, they would be Canadian waters or Pennsylvania east to Buffalo. The amount of walleye shoreline trolling that goes on in these areas is very small compared to the U.S. western basin and central basin. St. Clair is another good example – hardly any trolling compared to one good weather day back in Ohio.

    Using oversized cranks like Reef Runners allows for one set of hooks to flail around, damaging fish boat-side or in a net, which every walleye angler uses. So many fish running around with 1 eye near Ruggles or Lorain. Canadians can only keep two walleye, so their rate of fishing Lake Erie is not that great compared to the U.S. That's why the North Shore, Pelee and Hen islands all still have fish, but right across the border it sucks.

  • Steven C. Rockweiler of Luling, LA writes:

    The heyday of modern bass fishing may well be behind us. I remember in the '80's, the Louisiana Association of Bass Clubs (ALBC) had 600 clubs. They now have under 100. I see in numerous publications, such as the Louisiana Sportsmen, several clubs advertising for members. Some clubs are down to just a few guys.

    I own a 15-year-old Triton and still fish regional tournaments. It isn't cheap by any means. I've been doing it since 1970. I see young fellas all the time at the launch with a $40,000 truck and a $65,000 rig. They have a young family and fairly new house, but are riding the edge of sensibility. I asked some this past year why they did not compete in any tournaments and they actually told me they had little money for gas after all the notes and insurance.

    We used to regularly draw 200 boats or better 20 years ago in these tournaments, now they are lucky to draw 30-40 boats. These guys don't comprehend yet that you do not have to have the same rig and equipment that KVD does to be a bass fisherman.
    erous publications... such as the La. Sportsmen, several clubs advertising for members. Some clubs are down to just a few guys. I own a 15 year old Triton and still fish regional tournaments. It isn't cheap by any means...been doing it since 1970. I see young fellas all the time at the launch with a $40,000 truck and a 65,000 rig. They have a young family and fairly new house, but are riding the edge of sensibility. I asked some this past year why they did not compete in any tournaments.... and they actually told me they had little money for gas after all the notes and insurances. We used to regularly draw 200 boats or better 20 years ago in these tournaments... now they are lucky to draw 30-40 boats. These guys don't comprehend yet that you do not have to have the same rig and equipment that KVD does to be a bass fisherman.

  • Ronald Fithen Sr. of Rayland, OH writes:

    RE: Classic exemptions – Yes, but only the last year's winner. Nobody else should get a free ride.

  • Harold Sharp of Hixson, TN writes:

    Another B.A.S.S. champion passes. Ray Scott received a call from Gerald Blanchard's son that Gerald had passed away. Gerald won the Dixie Invitational Bass Tournament on Smith Lake in Alabama in October 1967.

  • Dennis Pentecost of Milford, IL writes:

    Please, bass fishermen, open your eyes. Ground beef is near $10 a pound. Everyone is having a hard time making it unless they are rich. The pros who have the money are the only ones making it. It is going to get worse! I know local bass club guys that are not going to be able to fish this year!

  • Joe Armold of Yantis, TX writes:

    RE: Classic exemptions – Yes, I think the winner deserves a spot.

  • Bill Horne of Penhook, VA writes:

    RE: Gray makes Classic – Brandon is a class act and a great fisherman, and a longtime friend. Congrats and good luck in the Classic.

  • Richard J .Moses of Charleston, SC writes:

    RE: Team Championship DQ – I heard they have filed a defamation lawsuit against B.A.S.S. According to the source I have the rig was in the locker but they never used it. Rules say you cant fish with it, doesn't say you can't carry one around. I would say they are pretty serious about the lawsuit considering how quick they filed it.

  • Darrell Reach of Kansas City, MO writes:

    RE: Team Championship DQ – Would like to see more info on this. How were they caught? Were they fishing the bait or just have the bait in the boat? Need more info to clear it up. I hope it was just an honest mistake with no intention of really cheating.

  • Harold Sharp of Hixson, TN writes:

    Recently Joe Balog asked the question, "So what is it about pro bass that seems to be lacking?" Several comments later it's pointed out that pro bass is much different than other sports that are played before a crowd that watches the action. That's true and here's a little history that may have changed that.

    Pro bass started in 1967. B.A.S.S. was organized in 1968 with pro events and $100 entry fees. Each year after, the events increased and also the entry fees and payout increased. In 1983, we decided to test the waters to see if the anglers wanted a larger payout, which would also increase the entry fees, and we announced Super B.A.S.S. in March. It had both larger fees and payouts and it got good response, so we added another in November, Super BASS II, followed by Super BASS III in 1984 and Super BASS IV in 1985. The response was good, so we decided to test the waters again with MegaBucks in April 1986.

    MegaBucks had an entry-fee increase and much larger payout. It was also designed to offer the public a chance to view the final Top 10 fishing a 10-hole course for some serious money.
    That period also had some big changes taking place at B.A.S.S. – Ray Scott sold the organization to Helen Sevier in 1986. In 1987, Harold Sharp left B.A.S.S., followed by Bob Cobb. Eventually B.A.S.S. was sold to ESPN and moved to Florida, but MegaBucks was still part of the picture until 2001. After 16 years, it was dropped by B.A.S.S.

    Ray Scott, Bob Cobb and I had plans for MegaBucks that would involve the public on the shoreline around a 10-hole course watching all the action up close. The first one would have been at Disney World in Florida. We had a large fish farm in Texas in our plans, plus several golf courses with good bass lakes, plus plans to build event lakes like the ones that Ray Scott has today.

    All these plans went away when B.A.S.S. was sold to ESPN and moved into the TV version of pro bass events. TV people do not think the same way bass people do. They want to dictate what happens so they can make a TV show. Bass people think about protecting and advancing the sport of pro bass fishing.

  • John Gaulke of Ithaca, NY writes:

    Sadly, I have to agree with most of the comments regarding bass fishing as a professional sport. There isn't a lot in it for us as spectators. Even the television coverage is seriously lacking.

    I was psyched to see the Cayuga Lake coverage of the Elite tourney held there this past August. The program showed the same shots of Greg Hackney over and over again swinging a bass onboard.No additional footage from what we could see online – no reason to tune in! We get to hear a few snippets about what the Top 2 or 3 guys did and that's about it. Not a lot to sink my teeth into as a fan.

    There's no following the pros around unless you're in a boat, which is probably annoying to the pro. What's in it for us spectators? Yes, we see that the pros do well - they certainly can catch them, and we hear some promotional talk about lures - some of which they may have used and some of which they probably didn't. We hear a little funny stuff complements of Gerald Swindle and apart from that, not a whole lot. They gotta give me more to make me want to tune in, and I'm a fan. I think the sport is past its peak.

    Regarding the "wanna be pros", that's just the way it is. People need to deal with it. You see it in bowling leagues, too. There are different levels of sponsorship from Joe's Marina on the local lake to the big time stuff. It may be silly, but the local guy with the tourney shirt whose winnings are in the hundred(s) dollar range has every right to wear his team shirt. Just like the football fan who wears his favorite team's shirt. And that local guy in many instances probably takes home as much money at the end of the day as an Elite guy who's in the bottom third of the standings (who is losing a lot of money).

    I think the level of most pros' influence, apart from the top guys like VanDam or Ike, is pretty minimal. A lot of us are skeptical. I may be biased, but I think a good guide who can give someone a good day on the water, where the client sees and uses the product, has as much influence as anyone.

  • Bob Reinhardt of Bull Shoals, AR writes:

    RE: Ranger sale – People I know, including myself, are apprehensive about the future quality of Ranger boats. Bass Pro is the go-to store for many outdoor items, but a high-quality bass boat isn't one of them, unfortunately. I may sound biased but merging the best with one of the worst sounds like the quality will suffer due to profits in the future.

    Mr. Wood and Mr. Morris are both highly successful businessmen, but their business models are much different. Similar acquisitions have occurred in the automobile industry, few were successful (Ford/Jaguar comes to mind). I wonder when Ranger will be moved from Flippin to Clinton?

  • Bob Szymakowki of Winston-Salem, NC writes:

    RE: Lures pros love to hate – I am surprised the Carolina rig wasn't mentioned. I remember when "pros" hated it. Times change.

  • Greg Ginneberge of Hamilton, OH writes:

    RE: Balog on what pro bass fishing lacks – If you look at the sports mentioned, in fact also most all other sports, they are played in stadiums, indoor/outdoor arenas, racing tracks, etc. Even with golf, people will walk alongside there favorite golfer or stay at one hole to see them all. There is nothing like that for bass fishing. It's detached from the audience unless you own a boat and follow your favorite angler around the lake. Fifty boats following KVD around doesn't compare to 100,000 watching NASCAR at the track.

    The only time there is an audience is at the weigh-in and the best part, the catching of the bass, we are left to find out when it airs a few weeks or months later on TV. Bass fishing to most people is like watching paint dry. We need to get over the fact that bass fishing will never be a major sport. It's a niche sport that us bass addicts love, but it will never make the big time.

  • Harold Sharp of Hixson, TN writes:

    RE: Ranger sale – Ranger Boats and Bass Pro Shop – what a great combination. Johnny Morris and Forrest Wood – can't beat that combination. Two great names in bass fishing. Good things ahead.

  • John Terry of Lexington, OH writes:

    RE: Balog on BoatUS – I to was very shocked when I found out they were backing out. My first thought was along the lines of Joe's – that they captured a huge part of the angler market and the majority of us will continue to pay the $70-$100 year to keep the great service offered. So now they have us and there's no need to continue to dump cash into the program and sponsorships with anglers. I know I am thankful for what they have done and the two Northern B.A.S.S. events I fished over the last 2 years as a co-angler I received that bonus cash. So essentially, if I stay on the program for 3 years, it was all free.

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