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  • Rob Dixon of Lewistown, PA writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey _ To all of you who are against the Elites and FLW Tour not having co-anglers, I only have one question for you: Do the B.A.S.S. Opens and Rayovacs not still allow co-anglers? Do the BFLs, ABA and many other lower-level circuits not also allow co-anglers?

    These are supposed to be the professional divisions. Many of these guys started at the club level or BFL division and won many tournaments on their way to becoming a pro (although some simply began in Opens in boats their parents bought and had their entry fees paid by parents and only had to concentrate on fishing until they qualified, but that's a whole different post) and if the only thing that changed by becoming a pro was a higher entry fee then we can hardly consider it a pro sport.

    Co-anglers are not pros and there are hundreds, if not thousands of tournaments all over the country that allow co-anglers to compete. I've done dozens of tournaments as a co-angler, yet I'm 100 percent against them being allowed to compete on the FLW Tour or Elite Series.

  • Johnny McLean of LIttle Rock, AR writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey – Interesting and fun.

  • John Henning of Landale,PA writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey – I think the people surveyed have a lot of valid points on many issues. I do think there should be an organized group for the sport of bass fishing that regulates tournaments, participants and sponsors as well as protects and promotes the sport and industry.

    The statement of "No co-anglers" really irritates me. My son is a Boy Scout. He doesn't like hanging with the younger Cub Scouts once or twice a year. I tell him you have to pay forward what others paid to you when you were young. These Pros complain about money, sponsors, not enough publicity, representation, retirement. Why are they trying to cut their own grassroots supporters and those who aren't quite as financially set as they are? What a God complex; worship me, pay me lots of money, limit my competitors, pay my expenses in a sport that is basically nonexistent to 99 percent of the population of the United States.

    There are less than 1,000 TBF members in Pennsylvania. Maryland TBF bring in their wives to meet the yearly quota for membership; about 56 I've heard. One of the great fishing states of the East Coast. With those kinds of demographics, they should be lucky to get a free happy meal at McDonald's.

    The sport needs help to grow, and the pros have to contribute to their future. The two cases of product I just got from my sponsor have to be sold for me to get my money. That's the deal. Buy at 50%, promote/sell product, you keep the profits.

    MLF has the perfect format to gain new fans and viewership. It doesn't have to be live – yet. Right now it's a real reality show that works. People are willing to wait for the next episode, and they do wait, too.

    Hopefully things will get better with this sport and it will grow in a positive manner for all. We do have to ask ourselves a question: How many more bass anglers do we want on the water when we don't like pleasure boaters, jet skis, sail boats, trollers, and co-anglers?

  • Jamie Jacobus of Johnstown, PA writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey – I'm a co angler on the FLW side. It's been a great learning experience but I hate being a co. Do away with us! Throw us out! Stop our self inflicted-pain.

    Actually I would suggest a 3-year max on co-anglerss. It is a great way to step up, but that's what it should be – a stepping stone. No more professional co-anglers.

  • Ruben Arnett of Salyersville, KY writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey – It sounds like the touring pros need to organize a union. It is great to belong to one and has worked great for most other sports.

  • Steven Rockweiler of Luling, GA writes:

    RE: Balog on fish smarts – I always wondered just how far a bass would travel on this immense (Louisiana) Delta of over 200 square miles. This wonder led to a lifetime of studying the bass movement and life cycle. I agree with Joe, human activity can have sudden and long-term effects on these bass.

    I started tagging bass back in the '70s and collected more than just a little info on their movements and habits. One thing I started to notice around 15 years ago was their spawning habits in relation to the fishing pressure exerted on the area. Bass here on the Delta spawn in various places, but the majority spawn in oilfield dead-end canals. These dead-ends have good water, food and cover. The bass will move from the major waterways around the end of December, and start to migrate to go into these dead-ends that are connected to the larger waterways.

    I would set up at the mouth of the intersecting waterways and catch them coming in, and then going out. The bass used to stay in these dead-ends until February, some until March. There, the spawning would take place. As fishing pressure mounted, the number of boats fishing these dead-ends started to really increase in the late '90s ... and it was not unusual to find a few dozen boats in these canals each and every day. The oldest bass changed the quickest and started to spend less and less time in the dead-ends. Now, I will catch a bass coming into a dead-end in late January, tag and release her, and catch her coming out in 2 to 4 days. She will go in, find a male, spawn and leave the male for the main waterway.

    This just astounded me to see how they changed their life cycle due to the immense pressure of the fishermen.

  • Tony Holzer of East Palestine, OH writes:

    The February Classic took the kids away and it also stopped any northern Classic. The water is a little hard that time of the year.

  • Chad Hill of Goreville, IL writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey: I understand the real pros wanting more guaranteed money in the sport, but it is what it is. Tournament bass fishing can't be artificially made bigger. ESPN just about ruined it when they owned it. It is fast becoming a rich person's sport.

    I agree that pros shouldn't compete in lower-level events, but totally get it. I fished two Illini BFL tournaments this year that Dan Morehead fished in. I assume he was practicing for the Rayovac Championship, but still, really. I don't fault him.

    The age of 21-foot boats with 250-hp outboards has made it difficult. And I don't know how they could enforce the rules much better. I agree that they should be, but it's a tough task.

    I think all outside information should be illegal. It's amazing when you watch on TV you see these guys sitting in the middle of nowhere fishing two big stumps in 20 feet of water. In most cases, they sure didn't find those on their own. Outside help de-legitimizes the sport.

    Personally, I like the MLF format. I was a skeptic at first, but I think it's the best.

  • Robert Vogelsang of Jessup, MD writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey – The only way sponsorship money is going to find its way into purses is for anglers to demand it, not ask for it. Why should tour promoters put money into purses if they can fill fields without doing so? Anglers have to understand that they put on the show, now more than ever because of onboard cameras.

    Every professional sport put money into the pockets of performers only when it had to. Bass fishermen have to understand this and stand up for themselves, or they will always be on the outside looking in when it comes to money.

  • William Burrows of Yorba Linda, CA writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey _ I think that B.A.S.S. should allow catch-and-release-type landing nets in tournaments (I believe FLW already does). It's proven that they do not harm the fish and I think if a professional angler hooks a crucial fish, he or she should have the option to flip it in or net it.

  • Tom Heintz of Waterloo, IL writes:

    RE: Angler survey – Any sport is as profitable as supply and demand allow it to be. Too small of a fan base to upgrade all these financial things the comments reflect. If there was money in it, ESPN would have kept it. No money in this sport comparatively speaking, so unless that changes this will never be golf or NASCAR.

  • David A. Hopkins of Dillsburg, PA writes:

    RE: Lefebre's options _ Glad to see Dave come over to the Elite Series. I'm sure there's more to follow. Would love to see Scott Martin make the move as well.

  • Jeff Lira of Roaonke, VA writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey – I thought the professional angler who answered that there are many on the tours who'll "do anything for a bag of worms" is clearly part of his very own "unity" problem. What's more, anyone fishing at that level stepped up the rungs of the professional fishing ladder. Additionally, his issue with the shallow sponsor pool is easily rectified by winning more tournaments or opening a business that allows him to fish with fewer financial concerns.

    Finally, the overwhelming agreement to unionize is surprising, considering most every angler on tour, realistically, depends upon themselves to fish. Their sponsors, or the like, are not making tournament-day decisions for them.

  • Steve Boyd of Orlando, FL writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey _ Not just the pros, but everyone who competes and has a vested interest needs to get on the same page regarding information sharing, liberal use of sponsorship claims and forming a union that forces B.A.S.S. and FLW to be transparent in what they are doing with the money that comes in.

    There are only 200 or so true traveling pros, which leaves them weak in terms of a voice for change that benefits them and the sport. Pros shouldn't have to poach lower-level tournaments to support themselves but as it stands now, they don't have much of a choice.

    Tennis would be a good business model to follow, but again, it requires more than just the few at the highest level to make it a reality.

  • Rico Riles of Lafayette, LA writes:

    In my opinion, FLW has been the minor leagues for years now. I'm happy to see the pros who can see the light try and qualify. The question is will the Elites create a way to let the up and coming young pros (who no doubt want to make the switch, but don't qualify) cross over and further decimate FLW legitimacy?

  • Terry Bonsell of Keyser writes:

    RE: Pro angler survey – Great article. Regarding scales, Wesley Strader asked for and received a re-weigh of his fish when he couldn't believe the announced weight at the Toho FLW. They re-weighed the same. That wasn't shown on the TV show. I was at the weigh-in and saw this.

  • Charlie Hartley of Grove City, OH writes:

    RE: Balog on Bass smarts – I agree, in our lifetime we have witnessed a change in fish behavior due to tournament/fishing pressure. As far as how smart is our prey? I always laugh about what a saltwater guide told me years ago: "You are worried about them seeing your line ... they swim into nets."

  • Troy Lawson of Austin, TX writes:

    RE: Kayak bassers – I wanted to point out that the Kayak Angler Tournament Series, aka KATS is having its 10th aniversary this year. It was started by Dennis Hermes in 2006. In no way am I suggesting it wad the first ever. I just want to point out that KBF started 3 years later.

  • Rick Pierce of Mountain Home, AR writes:

    In response to the survey: The Bassmaster Classic win got diluted when ESPN moved the event to February. Imagine any World Series, SuperBowl or other championship starting a season. The winners have no time or opportunity to prosper for their accomplishment. They can not equitably advance endorsements and it reduced the value of a Classic win. There is no "show tour" as they go from winner to competitor within weeks, as the next Elite event starts. This comes from a perspective of someone who has attended many Classics.

    The February Classic also took families out of the equation on tourism with the event during a school year. This was done to get media attention before Daytona and post football, during dead media space. It conflicts momentum and involvement of youth, high school and college anglers in our sport. It basically has taken over a decade of youth away from engaging anglers and realizing the fun of celebration at a Classic event – something that goes well to promote youngsters' involvement in fishing. The lakeside youth fishing days at a Classic once drew kids from all over the USA. A return to that end-of-season format would better allow a clear following of the sports season, improve promotion and endorsement of the anglers, engage a generational loss we have experienced and expand the diversity and crowds from other farther away areas.

    The Classic is less a family vacation choice than it ever was. It is an enthusiast's destination goal and we have seen enthusiasm spike with the youth events.

  • Terry Bonsell of Keyser, WV writes:

    FLW has become the minor league of tour bass fishing.

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