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  • Jim Liner of Pintlala, AL writes:

    RE: Sonar says thanks Good job, Miles. Keep up the good work and attitude.

  • Remi DeMatteo of Poydras, LA writes:

    RE: Balog on circuits Great article, which brings me to, hands down, my favorite T.V. fishing show Major League Fishing. Very much the competition the article speaks of and informative at the same time. I'm still all in with FLW and BASS competition, but it's not presented on TV with the same direction and I can't travel to events like I would like to; plus some of the "personalities" are overbearing and take away from the event, just MHO.

  • Dave Shellhaas of Frostproof, FL writes:

    RE: Balog on Istokpoga One of the big problems at 'Poga and most of the other lakes, in my opinion, is the FWC needs to have better control over the spray boats. They keep saying that they need to spray to help control waterways and navigation. Would like to know how spraying every living thing on all the banks affects navigation. Not sure the FWC and the actual sprayers are on the same page. Now they want to establish native plants in 'Poga. Pretty sure they would not have to do that if they would not have sprayed all the native plants that were already there. Need some accountability on the spray boats that will make sure that what is getting sprayed is not EVERYTHING!

  • Andy Williamson of Lake Andes, SD writes:

    After talking with the FLW tour tournament director, June 12, 2017, I learned that they regard the Guadalupe bass as a spotted bass, thus making them legal to weigh in!

    What made me curious about this was the article on Stephen Patek in the May/June 2017 issue of FLW Bass Fishing, where he said about his day 3 in the Lake Travis event, that he needed to cull "one little Guadalupe bass". FLW Tour tournament rules say only largemouth, spotted, redeye or smallmouth bass are accepted. If they want to include Guadalupe bass in there, they should have it written in the rules. Spotted bass and Guadalupe bass are two entirely different species.

  • Michael Bedenbaugh of Lakeland, FL writes:

    RE: Balog on Istokpoga This story is just one of the many that has happened in our state. For years our lake managers have felt that our lakes didn't need the management other states have put in place because we are the "bass capital." The state of our fisheries is now proving otherwise.

    Another example of a fishing tragedy right down the road from Istokpoga is lake Walk in the Water once one of the best lakes in the country and now it's the shell of what it used to be. Once the hydrilla was gone, 2 years after, so are the fish. This lake once supported many guides and was an incredible fishery. Now other than a few days during the spawn it is almost impossible for an average angler to catch a limit. With all the year-round pressure and the countless new people moving into our state, we need to be on the cutting edge of fish management, but I think the total decline in almost all fisheries in our state prove we are anything but.

  • Johnny McLean of Little Rock, AR writes:

    RE: Balog on Istokpoga As usual, good article, Joe. I would not be too optimistic about the future since the lake is up against probably the most powerful lobby in D.C., big agriculture. Usually all water-quality problems can be tracked back to sediment, nitrogen or phosphorus.

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Kissimmee, FL writes:

    RE: Balog on Istokpoga Florida lake levels remain constant? Lake Toho and the Kissimmee chain have the water level dropped very early in the year. This is supposedly in preparation for the rainy season. Add in the ridiculous amount of hydrilla and you have a significantly smaller lake, much of it unnavigable. This is the case for a good part of the year. Most docks and canals are unreachable.

  • Dustin Daggett of Twin Lake, MI writes:

    RE: Balog on Istokpoga When the real estate bubble burst, I moved from Michigan to Florida with the company I worked for. I spent many weekends (far too many, if you ask my wife) fishing Okechobee, Istokpoga and the Kissimmee Chain. I saw firsthand the destruction U.S. Sugar and other special interest groups did (and continue to do) to these fisheries.

    Thanks for writing this article and letting the bass fishing masses know!

  • Bryan Heaberlin of Lake Helen, FL writes:

    Istokpoga has always been my favorite lake in Florida Even as nasty as they have allowed it to become, it still has been giving up awesome weights this season. We have huge problems here in Florida. The machine that controls the herbicide sprayboats is completely and utterly out of control ... it needs to be rolled back. Yes, control and access is necessary, so they are needed for this, but they spray so much and so often that they are killing all these lakes. They spot-spray around the natives so much that they end up killing the natives back so much that the exotics take their place. It's called chasing your tail.

    Spraying leads to more spraying, all the breakdown releases even more nutrients into the system and we end up with algae blooms and nasty water. We as citizens need to stand up to this and demand they stop this level of application. It isn't going to stop unless we get together and demand that it does.

    Anyone ever wonder why FWC always trots someone out to speak about this with about 5 years to go before retirement? Folks, it will always be someone else's fault the farmers, the lakefront property owners, high water, low water, you name it ... they take zero responsibility.

  • Mark Zona of Sturgis, MI writes:

    RE: All-American winner Way to go, Marshall Deakins! You are one of the best I've ever met .. on and off the water. Well-deserved on your win.

  • Troy Dodd of Lawrenceburg, TN writes:

    Why is Mark Zona not on Bassmaster shows?

    BassFan says: He's working a more limited schedule with B.A.S.S. this year and devoting additional time to his own TV show. He'll be back on Bassmaster Live! later this summer.

  • Mark Romanack of Tustin, MI writes:

    RE: New Bass Cat sales chief Congratulations, Dallas. All the best at Bass Cat.

  • Bryan Heaberlin of Lake Helen, FL writes:

    RE: Balog on exotics I no longer believe that it is the fisheries biologists that have issues with the invasive vegetation in the lakes. In my own opinion, it is instead the invasive plant biologists because one would have to be a fool as a fisheries guy and try and do a good job when you support the ridiculous amounts of herbicide application that is occurring all over. It just doesn't make sense.

    If you care to view this, all are welcome to come to Florida and put in on most any lake in the state and view it firsthand. I wonder where it all went wrong? I mean when these biologists signed up for classes, did they hand them a spray bottle of Roundup and tell them to have it, or what?

  • Jackie Carroll of Graysville, AL writes:

    Fred Bland was much loved by his family and friends. His quick wit and competitive spirit made any time spent with him special. He has moved to the top of the leaderboard for eternity. Rest in peace, Fred. You are truly healed!

  • Charles Bowman of Kernersville, NC writes:

    I wanted to share a quick story about Fred Bland. I drew Fred as my boater in a BASS Top 100 tournament at Lake Gaston back in the mid '90s. At that time, I had not been exposed to the shaky-head. Fred had two shaky-heads tied on, one for docks and one for deep water. Half the day he skipped the shaky-head under docks and half the day we traveled to the dam and he used the shaky-head in 40 feet of water. Fred caught fish both ways.

    Having never been exposed to this method of bass fishing, it was very interesting to see him work. In my neck of the woods, power-fishing with baitcasters, spinnerbaits and jigs was the name of the game. Fred's use of spinning rods and a shaky-head changed my mindset. It's easy to forget that not that many years ago, the spinning rod and shaky-head was not the staple of tournament fishing that it is today.

    In my opinion, Fred was innovative and used his spinning rod technique in the headwind of baitcasters and power-fishing. I know worms and weights have been used for decades, but Fred's specific technique, with a spinning rod, in North Carolina was an exception at the time, not the rule. Super-nice guy and made a great impact on the sport.

  • William Heitzman of Hills, IA writes:

    Joe Balog's articles are my first read. Keep up the good work.

  • Dave Krantz of Albany, GA writes:

    RE: Balog on exotics You have to wonder how much of this spraying of invasive plant species is being driven by the chemical industry as a way of selling chemicals. Keep in mind that likely the majority of plants, shrubs and trees in your neighborhood are foreign species and there is no great outcry to spray them because they are beneficial in most cases.

    Hydrilla might choke off a small pond and ruin the fishing, but be a godsend in a large and aging reservoir to provide cover for the entire chain of life in that body of water. Look no further than what happened to the fishing in the numerous reservoirs where they killed the grass and ruined the fishing. Hyacinth is another invasive plant that provides valuable cover along the banks and fish love it, but the biologists still mistakenly claim that it is poor habitat because it reportedly deprives the area of oxygen. Ask any fisherman how good the fishing is under hyacinths.

    The problem is two-fold for the fishermen. We've got people who live on the lake and want all vegetation killed so they have a pristine and sterile body of water to wakeboard, jetski and cruise around. The other influence to kill grass is the chemical companies, which will make campaign contributions and channel money to biologists through scholarships and handouts disguised as research studies.

    I fault the fisheries biologists for not recognizing the tremendous benefit of hydrilla and its huge effect on the bass population in our reservoirs ... and the equally devastating effect when the grass is killed with poison, grass carp or both.

  • Randy Blaukat of Joplin, MO writes:

    The topic of co-anglers will draw a lot of feedback from pros. Most Elite Series pros will tell you that one of the best things they like about B.A.S.S. is .not having the distraction of a co-angler in the boat. I've fished with hundreds and hundreds of co-anglers over the years, and have seen it all in terms of the great ones to fish with, and the nightmares. What I can tell you is the co-anglers I've fished with who do the best, and the ones who have won with me, are the ones I don't even know are in the boat. They fish their own water and many times behind the boat.

    The reason most co-anglers struggle is they don't understand angles. I try and educate them about this, but few really understand and use this to their advantage. Most of them strive to cast in front of the boat as much as they can get away with. This is their biggest mistake because they don't have the proper angle. I fished for years with two of the greatest co-anglers of all-time, Frank Divis Jr. and Rodney Chmolack, during practice. Both of them have had incredible success as co-anglers, and many times I've seen them dragging baits behind the boat and catching fish .. because they understand angles. They don't try and rush or compete with their pros.

    Being a co-angler is a great opportunity to learn if you approach it with this attitude, but I've seen a definite trend in super-aggressive co-anglers who create tension in the boat. Most have jobs they go back to, and fail to realize the pros have no other form of income and are fishing to pay bills, mortgage payments and put food on the table for their families.

    My advice to co-anglers would be let the pro know you are there to learn, back off, don't rush them, and let them have the water they are fishing to themselves. Fish what you can from the back. When most pros see you are doing this, they will go out of their way to help you learn, share secrets and tips and more. This will make your experience as a co-angler much more valuable in the long run than being aggressive trying to win a few hundred bucks.

  • Rick Pierce of Mountain Home, AR writes:

    Growing up totally in the start and in the mix of pro bass fishing, I'm not a dedicated reader of Joe Balog. I don't really know him, so nothing personal I just don't always agree with the new-vision perspective. No disrespect intended, Joe.

    However, he hit some major nail heads this week. First with the comparison of MLF and BassFest. MLF we were the original first sponsor of and it's a great television format we've continued to strongly support. People enjoy it and the success is huge. In comparison to B.A.S.S., it's an improved bracket game made for television.

    Bassmaster has to appeal to a crowd imagine NASCAR or the Indy 500 without 150,000 to 300,000 screaming fans. Things will always change, though we think Bassmaster has to figure out how while keeping the fan base growing, and it looks like they are at least trying on many formats.

    Then he hammered away at the plethora of knock-offs happening religiously with a fury since the Big O and a Tennessee Shad were the deal in the the growth of the 1970s. Fred Young did well there and so did the knock-offs. Let alone Rick Clunn learning about the Lunker Lure on we believe a Rend Lake or Shebyville event and the buzzbait phenomenon that followed. Jimmy Crisp let the world know about rippin' stick baits and everyone had one of those. Too bad Dee Thomas had nothing he could market other than his skills, and he was using those skills in the 1960s, long before anyone knew it outside California. It's been happening since those early days of bass fishing media growth.

    Next is the cancellation of events. Having been there as an angler when those first events were cancelled. it was a gasp when Dewey Kendrick first pulled the plug on one when they were Invitationals, then Top 100 events had that occur. Today it's not uncommon. While then we faced brutal days on Rayburn, Kentucky Lake, 1000 Islands, then flooding at Livingston and others when B.A.S.S. held stout to compete, today the organizers change with wind. The difference is the competitors no longer are both dedicated pro anglers, and the co-anglers or marshals often are novices.

    In the 1970s through early 1990s it was a part of the sport. Watching us search for Rick Parker and Bo Turner at Rayburn, seeing Roland's boat come back towed in barely floating with the hull belly-up. Cancellng Day 2 at Kentucky Lake to face gusts up to 60 mph on day 3. Around 25 boats towed in, as they have on 1000 Islands. We all faced 35-45 mph winds that tossed us around like bobbers back then. Necks were tweaked and backs were broken by anglers riding shotgun.

    Today's co-anglers are not paying the pro-level fees and don't have the same risks. Events have changed for safety of all parties. Are we smarter or did we just take a part of the game away?

    Those answers on events and decisions both will be decided by the spectators and fans, not us.

  • Steve Kirby of Columbus, OH writes:

    RE: Balog on regional opportunities Joe's take on the continuing dearth of local and regional tournament support from the major manufacturers is right on. I guess we really can't blame them. One of the first things on the chopping block is always the sponsorship budget. Just look at NASCAR they're going through the same sponsor cinching of the belt that B.A.S.S. and FLW did some years ago.

    From an insider's view of the importance of local events, one need look no further than one of central Ohio's circuits sponsored by a local marine dealer and Ranger Boats as well as a local Ford dealer. The number of new trucks and boats is easily quantifiable by the number of sales directly related to participants in this 60-boat field, so far in 2017; five new Ford trucks and seven brand new Rangers. When one considers the number of years this circuit has been in existence, one can imagine the impact this one example is having on sales for both firms.

    It really is time for the majors to start looking elsewhere as most of the angling public realizes that the pros, for the most part, prostitute themselves for whomever their sponsor is at the moment.

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