"It's not entertaining to see two grown men preparing to do battle with a net that holds a 2-pound bass. That's bull."
So said Ray Scott about the use of nets in professional fishing, a practice he'd like to see terminated as soon as possible.
When still head of B.A.S.S. he banned the use of nets for that reason: it took away from the on-camera drama. But after the FLW Tour allowed their use, B.A.S.S. also permitted nets in the boat. "It was a dreadful mistake when 2 years ago we followed FLW and put the nets back in the boats," Scott said.
In the Entertainment Business
"That 'E' in ESPN is for Entertainment," he noted. "I'm not saying that to be facetious or rude -- we're in the entertainment business, and I contend that TV is the biggest promoter of bass fishing. TV is 3D excitement, at least if you let it be."
To those who say that nets are better on the bass than hand-landing, Scott said: "Hand-landing fish is 10-times better for the fish than using a net. A net splits fins, breaks spines and knocks off more slime than if you bounce them on the deck. When a fish is wallowing in that net, regardless of the material it's made of, he's knocking off slime.
"I don't think that will kill a bass," he added. "Bass are a heck of a lot tougher than we give them credit for."
TV Time Contingent?
Though fishing without a net certainly raises the stakes and allows for some great TV -- David Fritts falling in the water at the start of the old Bassmasters show is one example -- many anglers feel that seeing a bass dropped onto the deck of a boat and jumping around creates a black eye for the sport.
To that Scott said: "Ask the guy not to swing a bass in, and tell him that if he does, he'll never see the light of day on television.
"I've found that pro bass fishermen are much more considerate in handling bass than a biologist," he added. "Biologists handle bass like a doctor handles a newborn baby -- they flop it around like a sack of corn. Of course they know what they're doing, but the point I'm making is that we have a much more deep-rooted compassion for bass than anyone else.
"So (tournament officials) should make every effort to caution the men to be considerate of the fish" when landing them without a net, Scott said.
The pros have to be reminded of that because they "aren't interested in entertainment. They're trying to make a check, and that's the way it should be," he said.
Scott would also like to see a ban allowing the other person in the boat to help with landing the bass. "That fish ought to be caught by the man with a rod in his hand.
"Lip landing is far more sporting," he said. Fat boys will have a little tougher time than others, but do what Fritts did -- get on your knees and flip him in."
For more on what Scott thinks about nets, see the story on the new Light-Line Tournament (click here).
Tell Ray and the leagues what you think of a net ban by voting in this week's BassFan Poll (on the home page)!