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  • Kevin Crabtree of Sellersburg, IN writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – If I'm fishing co-angler in a Bassmaster Open tournament, I want to have a chance to fish behind and learn from the best in the world. From a pro perspective, do you really feel like you're earning your way to the next level if you can't handle A FEW pro tour angers in the mix? FLW Costas and Bassmaster Opens are far more exciting when the contestants are a mix of seasoned tour pros and hungry lesser-known pros on their journey to the top tiers. Keep tour pros out of triple-A tournaments and watch the participation decline quickly. It would be sad to see.

  • Greg Lineberry of Galax, VA writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – If they're gonna make it a win-yourin-the-Classic through the Opens, then I think the full-time pros should be allowed to fish. I don't think it should be fair to keep out a full-time Elite Series guy who spends all year on tour and give a guy who fishes just on the weekends a shot at the Super Bowl of bass fishing. They should only allow the full-time pros Classic slots.

  • Terry l. Bonsell of Frostburg, MD writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – There is no competition between anglers – it's between the angler and the fish. What one angler does or does not do doesn't effect another angler.

  • Martin D. Lamb of Albia IA writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – As far as I am concerned, let the pros fish. I really didn't think about it during the Opens I fished. I am more concerned with the availability of the Opens to everyone who wishes to throw their hat in than restricting the professionals.

  • Adam Ohms of Edwardsville, IL writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – Tour pros should not be allowed to fish BFL-level competition or qualify for its championship. This is a working man's tournament, period.

    Pros should be allowed and encouraged to fish triple-A level opens/FLW Series events. Anyone fishing at that level is looking for something to prove against the best.

  • Jim Hardy of Harlem, TX writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – Bring 'em on! Got to compete against them if you want move up!

  • Bernie House of Lebanon, TN writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – I always felt that it was a challenge to fish against tour-level pros. It upped your game and reward. Here in Tennessee we had several pros who fished our regional tournaments and you could learn a lot from what they did. Also, there was the extra " glory" that went along with beating an Ott DeFoe or Terry Bolton. They have their days and they don't win them all. Man up or stay home.

  • Doug Stevenson of Decatur, AL writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – Because this is the way for FLW pros to get to the Elites, it probably won't change.

  • Curtis Simpson of West Monroe, LA writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – Let them fish. If someone wants to improve their tournament fishing, they have to compete against those who are as good or better than they are. It might hurt your pride (and tournament fishermen can be pretty prideful) in the process, but over time your fish-catching ability will improve. Look at the period KVD was dominating the Elites – four AOYs and two Classics in a 4-year stretch. Fellow Elites were getting tired of him, but he caused everybody else to improve their game to keep up and they are better fishermen for it.

  • Steve Jones of Moss Point, MS writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – If they are fishing the Opens or Costas to requalify for the tours, I have no beef. I don't think any pro who hasn't been off either tour for at least 2 years should be allowed to fish any of the BFL events. The pros jackpotting the 2-day BFL Super Tournaments is my biggest beef.

  • Benny Rigney of Williamston, SC writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – Let them fish! Whether it is at the triple-A level or even local tournaments. On the local level they have no advantage over the local sticks. As far as Costas and Opens, absolutely let them fish. These guys are trying to make a living fishing. They need those opportunities in those trails as well as the tours to survive.

    If you want to compete, you might as well beat the best. The ones barking the loudest usually aren't there in the check line anyway because they are more worried about who shows up instead of catching fish.

  • Mark Aaron of Gastonia, NC writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – I know that many won't like it, but as long as entry fees are involved and a man or woman puts up the money, how do you have a legitimate gripe? This is the problem with "professional" bass fishing. In what other professional sports do contestants have to pay an entry fee? I could buy the best set of golf clubs Tiger Woods ever used and pay for it with one box of crankbaits.

    In no way should an Elite or FLW Tour pro have to pay an entry fee. How is it that since the economy has bounced back from 2008, entry fees have gone up, but no increase in the payout? These guys keep paying for the largest portion of the money they fish for – $742,500 is paid by pro contestants for each FLW event alone, $594,000 for B.A.S.S. Add up what the purse is for each tournament and subtract it. Yeah, they throw a little back for each sanctioning body's championship, but throw that into the equation and see what they fork out to make up the difference at the end of the year. By corporate standards, it ain't much!

    Employee compensation, road crews, TV contracts, corporate sponsors, etc. all add up too. Someone did let the "cat out of the bag" as to what it cost for B.A.S.S. to come to town per Lake Martin? In no way can they claim to be professional with entry fees involved ... I'm beating a dead horse!

  • Johnny Manning of Arkadelphia, AR writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – Let them all in. You need to learn to compete against the best if you want to be the best.

  • Alan Piacentine of Dallas, GA writes:

    RE: Tour pros at lower levels – I say keep the FLW Tour pros the Costa FLW Series and the BFLs! I am a boater and I love competing against them. If I don't catch good enough weights, then that's my fault. There's no playing defense in fishing. There are some really good anglers on the lower levels and I want to compete against them. Stop crying about the top pros and practice more and pay your dues. That's what I'm doing!

  • Jim Barczak of Osceola, FL writes:

    RE: Classic Bracket – Catch, weigh and release is being used because smallmouth are closed in Minnesota.

  • Martin D. Lamb of Albia, IA writes:

    Listening to Brandon Palaniuk's AOY speech Sunday, he orated the exact reason why I say the Opens need to be more accessible to the working Joe. He said he "did not have the time or money to fish the Opens", he was fortunate enough to run the gauntlet through the Federation and win the championship. Had that not happened, Brandon Palaniuk may very well still be fishing and logging in Idaho, chasing the dream. Just because a guy can't commit to five weeks vacation or throw out 6,000 bucks in entry fees doesn't mean he doesn't have the tools to be an Elite fisherman.

  • Mike Bennett of Columbia, SC writes:

    I laugh every time read a comment where someone complains or whines about an Elite or FLW Tour pro fishing a lower-tier tournament like the Opens. If they don't think they can compete with them, then stay home. It doesn't matter if KVD, Swindle, Skeet or any Elite angler is in the field if you can't catch fish. You are not competing against the anglers, you are competing against the fish. If you can't find and catch fish, don't blame it on something as lame as "Well, Ott DeFoe was in the tournament." Blame it on your lack of skills and confidence in yourself.

  • Carol Martens of West Hills, CA writes:

    RE: Teaming with Martens – Thats's my boy ... I love fishing with him because it's always an adventure.

  • Skip Bennett of Texico, IL writes:

    My opinion is that the some pros who fish the Opens should not be allowed to accept the perks that go along with the title. Example, DeFoe's already qualified for the Elites and the 2018 Classic. Now the only thing he accomplished was the top money spot and took the money from the aspiring working anglers who are trying for those champion benefits. Some pros, especially those who have been dropped by the Elites and those who did not make the Classic cut and FLW pros who want switch sides, should be allowed and not looked down upon for trying to advance. But in DeFoe's defense, he smoked the field against a lot of locals who've had many more days of practice, so they left the door open.

  • Gary Yexley of Knoxville, TB writes:

    RE: Teaming with Martens – Great article. I fished with him many many years ago on Lake Powell ... good memories. Thank you.

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