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  • Jason Haney of Spruce Creek, PA writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers I completely agree with a majority of your points. A reduction to 150 hp will limit fuel expenses, drop insurance rates and likely reduce boat size, making towing a boat for 4 hours more economical. My only concern is that new boat owners, like myself, who just spent years of savings to purchase a mid-2000s model 20-fot boat with a 225-hp outboard won't be able to use it in state tournaments.

    Yes, smaller boats are cheaper, but if bigger boats are outlawed, I'm stuck with a boat that I can't sell or use in tournaments. If downsizing horsepower limits is in our future, I support the move. I just hope that we're given a couple years notice so that the average angler has time to adjust.

  • Jim Barclay of Acworth, GA writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers I agree. As with all competitive sports, it's all about the money and who you know. I've been there and done it for years. I just fish for fun mostly these days maybe one big tournament a year. It's a lot less stress and money and a lot more fun.

    I guess me getting past 60 years old, the competitive spirit is not there like it was.

  • Tim Brown of Ridge Top, TN writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers I couldn't agree more with the prices of bass fishing rigs. Heck, you can get a new Corvette with a V-8 engine that will get 23 mpg for $70,000. What do you get with a new 20- or 21-foot top-of-the-line bass boat? Not to mention the engine in the 'Vette will last a heck of a lot longer than the uutboard will!

  • Tom Baldwin of Cedar Hill, TN writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers I read the article and it hits home. Boat prices are out of this world! FLW is increasing the BFL entry fees. Seems that everything goes up, but never decreases in price/cost.

    Good thing we can still fish clubs, and they still can provide you a way to the next level if your club is federated through B.A.S.S. or FLW. Club fishing has not changed still fun, still cheap and you can still compete!

  • Tim Feller of Coral Springs, FL writes:

    RE: Yelas' rough year He doesn't get too excited about minor league championships? If it's your only way into the Cup you should be! You lost your passion for the sport time to give it up.

  • Trait Crist of Fort Worth, TX writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers Joe, keep writing stuff like this. Hands down you have the best articles on any website. The honesty, truth and raw info is a necessity if the sport is going to move remotely in a positive direction. Thank you for doing what you do.

  • Chad Keogh of Nanaimo, BC writes:

    RE: Classic exemptions Look at all other professional sports. They don't allow quarterbacks from past winning teams to just walk onto the field and start throwing. If they want an event for past Classic champions, they should have a Legends event or something like that.

  • John Orchard of Winston-Salem, NC writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers Mr. Balog has been on the front lines. I am glad to see someone speak out about this sport and how out of control the finances are. More influential leaders should use some common sense and speak out. Good luck to all the wannabes.

  • Marc Devine of Agoura, CA writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers Great view on this subject. Put it this way, most of those so-called pros are members of the Lucky Sperm Club. I know guys who can out-fish any of those guys, but we're never a member of the club so we work just to fish weekends.

  • Rick Wolfe of San Mateo, CA writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers The next crop of pro anglers will come from the colleges; so many of them are getting involved in competitive angling that they will feed the pro ranks.

    That's the model that all pro sports thrive on NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. But to supplement that you need a minor league low entry fee, only rookies, etc.

  • Jeff Sullivan of Frostproof, FL writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers I am sorry to see that FLW is also going to do away with co-anglers. It was disappointing when B.A.S.S. did that, but I do understand it. It does take the dream away from many. For some, it is just the dream to fish with a pro and the hope of drawing a favorite to fish with. For some, the dream is to win that rig and give it a go it as a boater.

    I will never forget it as I lived those dreams. My first event I went to meet the pros and just have some fun. My first meeting I spent 15 minutes chatting with Roland and Judy Martin and I could not believe the openness of them and all the pros. When the draw came I drew an unknown guy (at the time) named Jason Quinn, who developed into a friend who supplied me with cherished memories talking and practicing through the years I was active until, for family reasons, I couldn't do it anymore.

    But the dream part, except the last step, came as I finally achieved what I was after when everything aligned right and I won that rig in 2009. Family was more important though, as I needed to help my dad, who passed in 2010, and my Mom in 2013, so I never got to finish my dream off. But the point is I got there the only way I could do it financially and now those avenues are closing to others.

    I have said it before and it still holds true It is their game and if you want to play, you have to play by their rules. It is still sad to see. But I will forever be grateful to all the wonderful guys I had the pleasure to fish with. I will also say to all who dream, keep dreaming and working and you can find a way.

  • David Morgan of Rutledge, TN writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers I totally agree with the comments about the impending and certain demise of the bass fishing industry. In today's times, even at the local levels, the cost to play has become insane. Not so much from an entry-fee standpoint, as we are blessed to have trails in the Southeast that pay out $10,000 for 1st with $125 entry fees, but the cost associated with all of it just to be able to compete at any level.

    I have a great job and a wife who lets me spend without question on my addiction to bass fishing, but there are so many talented anglers out there who simply cannot afford all the things that are required just to compete. Remember the days of $20,000 (or even less) 150-hp bass boats? Now the engine costs $20,000 for a 250-hp four-stroke. And if you're not running the down- and side-scan graphs, the 70-mph boat, fluoro line that costs $20 for 125 yards, lures in excess of $10 a piece, etc., etc., etc., the deck is stacked against you. I'm not saying you can't win, but good luck because you're gonna need it!

    It literally makes me sick to put a figure to all of it and most have no shot of ever being a pro as they can't quit their job because we have to pay to play. I respect all the pros they have an intestinal fortitiude that should be commended, no doubt about it but like you I feel the sport it at a tipping point and unfortunately, I feel it tipping the wrong way to a world of the haves and have-nots. I'm not sure what or how to fix this, but I would think that nothing will really change until the rising costs start hitting the manufacturers in their pocketbooks.

    When it all started I thought it was a great thing for the sport and for the people who made their living from it. Now with private equity firms, investors, multi-million dollar companies, etc., It's all about the revenue and profit each company can generate.

    I guess I need to quit rambling on now as I sound like a dinosaur even though I'm only 46 years old. Keep writing and provoking thoughts in this industry!

  • Bill Wolf of Center, MO writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers I agree with Mr. Balog, I think that BASS and FLW have forgotten who keeps them in business. And I think certain pros have forgotten where they came from.

    So go ahead, industry, and eliminate the co-angler. And in a few years when your business falls apart, do not blame the "co-angler. Remember, you did it to yourself.

  • Harold Sharp of Hixson, TN writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers Joe is getting closer to hitting the nail on the head with his statement: "The industry has gotten out of hand with the accepted model." Then he states: "I believe we are at the tipping point of a potential collapse." I agree with Joe; we are close to a collapse in professional bass fishing.

    I was there at the beginning in 1967, here's my view of what happened:

    Ray Scott announced the organization of B.A.S.S. in January 1968. In his first issue of BassMaster Magazine he listed the eight purposes of B.A.S.S.:

    > To organize the Bass Anglers of America.
    > To stimulate public awareness of bass fishing as a major participation sport.
    > To improve our skills as bass anglers through the exchange of expert bass-catching techniques and ideas.
    > To offer our states' conservation departments our organized support.
    > To demand adequate water standards and enforcement of existing standards.
    > To encourage private and governmental study into why fishing on our streams goes bad.
    > To promote and encourage youth fishing.
    > To present national championship bASS fishing tournaments.

    Notice that Ray listed tournaments last.

    For the next 18 years, B.A.S.S. set the pace for professional bass fishing with close ties to everyone in the industry and the membership went from Don Butler's first entry to over 600,000 worldwide members.

    What changed the professional bass Fishing direction? Here's my view as tournament director during that period:

    First Ray Scott sold BASS and at that point pro bass fishing lost its leader. Next Forrest Wood sold Ranger Boats and one of the leaders in the industry was missing. Then FLW entered the tournament picture and gave bass anglers another schedule of events, but it also developed into a contest between B.A.S.S. and FLW for control of the sport.

    Next came a move that began to change everything B.A.S.S. did away with the 150-hp limits. This move sparked the industry's race for larger products that cost more money, resulting in tournament rigs costing over $50,000. It also boiled over into tackle prices going out of sight.

    Next came the co-anglers and marshals who were paying less into the payout, resulting in an increase in the pros' entry fees. It also provided the co-anglers and marshals a boat and driver and no much need for tackle as they did not control the fishing. They also did not learn much as the pro did not share info with them as they had with other pro partners.

    The entry fees went up, the payout went up and the industry went out of sight.

    The next move that changed everything was the sale of B.A.S.S. to ESPN. This put the control of professional bass fishing in the hands of TV people who could care less about the eight B.A.S.S. purposes. They are only interested in promoting themselves and making a TV show where they direct all the action, as they do in all major sports, once they take control.

    In quick order the following changes happened:

    > B.A.S.S. changed the direction of the B.A.S.S. Federation and half the chapters left and formed their own Federation.

    > ESPN sold BASS and suddenly everyone was excited about high school and college team fishing. Remember that B.A.S.S. purpose No. 7 was to encourage youth fishing. Kids don't go fishing, they are carried fishing. This is what the B.A.S.S. Federation was involved in. High school and college anglers should belong to a bass club.

    > The worldwide membership in B.A.S.S. was over 600,000 when Ray sold it, but is way below that today. The entry fees were less than $500 a few years ago. B.A.S.S. just announced a $6,000 entry fee for the 2015 BASSFest amateurs.

    B.A.S.S. and FLW both are reducing the available entries and increasing the entry fees for 2015. This encourages bass anglers to look for other ways to enjoy bass fishing without going broke.
    How can this potential collapse be changed?

    Pro bass fishing has no leadership, so maybe it's time to form a commission that would control the direction of the sport. All other major sports have done that to control the owners and players and advance the sport. B.A.S.S., FLW and the industry leaders who are still around should think about that.

    Do away with co-anglers and marshals, go back to the rule that had two pros in the boat, paying the same amount, sharing the boat control time and exchanging fishing ideas. It worked at B.A.S.S. for 20 years without problems.

    Go back to horsepower controls that will reduce the cost of rigs. Change the scoring so you count every bass that's caught this will keep anglers fishing instead of boat-racing around looking for five bass.
    B.A.S.S. and FLW should look at dividing the USA into divisions North, South, East, West and Central. This would provide events with less travel cost. It would also provide more events to qualify anglers for the world championships events that could be conducted in large cities with sports shows like the Classic and Forrest Wood Cup. This would boost the industry and promote the sport across America and around the world. But it must not be controlled by TV people, it must be in control of bass fishing people, such as a pro bass fishing commission board of directors.

    Today the sport of professional bass fishing in being controlled by the TV people who want to make things happen that will sell TV shows. It should be controlled by anglers and industry people who are interested in the sport of bass fishing for everyone to enjoy.

    This sport will not survive with a handful of anglers breaking even and the rest going broke. The industry had better take a look at where we are heading.

  • Ray Coleman of Henderson, NV writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers The idea that I will pay several hundred dollars to "marshal" a pro is ridiculous. Me being expected to be grateful to be in the boat with a pro is not happening. I participated in the B.A.S.S. Top 150 as a co-angler decided that when B.A.S.S. changed the rule I would not be an active member.

  • Steve Sendelweck of Ramsey, IN writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers I agree that the cost of boats and equipment has gotten out of hand, but mandating a certain size boat for different levels of competition is not the answer. That would require a guy who fishes BFLs and a few higher-level events to have two boats. What about the guy who has a 20-footer with a 250 that is paid off? Now he has to buy an 18-footer just so he can fish a Rayovac tournament? Not very cost-effective.

    As far as giving co-anglers an opportunity to move up to the front of the boat, most I talk to don't want to. They like not having the pressure of making the tough decisions and having the big expenses. Most co-anglers do it for the experience and not the money or the competition.

  • Keith Chapman of Gainesville, FL writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers Although I agree with Joe on many accounts here, I believe one factor needs to be considered further. It should not be assumed that a co-angler, winning a major tournament from the back of the boat, is ready for the FLW Tour. It is in no way realistic to assume that that a co-angler, given the necessity at the next level to run a boat, find his own fish and manage them for 4 days, is ready to do so because a David Dudley or Larry Nixon put him on fish.

    Finding your own fish is much harder than it sounds, especially given the talent at the highest level.

  • Tom Dorothy of Tulsa, OK writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers As someone who is going to jump into the fray as a co-angler next year for the first time, this is a very well-timed article. Having to consider which series to enter into to, Rayovac, BFL or B.A.S.S., the FLWs still appear to offer more for the co-angler, but from what I read, it may be impossible to even get in as demand is high. B.A.S.S. has the more prestige of the two, but FLW gives me more opportunity to compete with being able to possibly qualify for regionals or a championship series. B.A.S.S. offers me experience and maybe some cash and a boat, but nothing else.

    Being someone who wants to compete at a higher level eventually, it is a tough decision to make as the family and vacation time comes into play. I am not for sure if I want to pay deposits for Rayovac and go on a waiting list and not compete or fish a B.A.S.S. Open series and not have a real reward. Tough decisions for all of us to make.

    Keep up the good work on tackling the tough issues that others will not.

  • Gary Yexley of Knoxville, TN writes:

    RE: Balog on co-anglers: Excellent article. Thank you for saying it.

  • William Strickland of Florence, AL writes:

    RE: Classic exemptions I think that winning the Classic should be similar to winning a major in golf it should carry an exemption to future Classics for 3 to 5 years.

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