I remember one of the first pro bass seminars I ever attended. Always eager to rub elbows with my childhood heroes, I somehow convinced my mom to drive me an hour and a half to an in-store promo where Denny Brauer would be giving a talk. After spending a full 8-hour day at the event, and scratching up every penny I had to my name, I left with a new flippiní stick.
The following day it was my dad who would cart me the 70 miles to the same location. There, he and I would attend a seminar given by Larry Nixon. You guessed it: I left with a worm rod.
The point is I, just like so many of you, could never get enough of listening to and spending time with my idols. I still canít.
Today, however, attending such events is becoming much more difficult. Long ago, most consumer show organizers forgot the value of having the best in the business perform at their events, and instead replaced them with local fishermen who charge little or no fee. Many of the biggest names also spend more time concentrating their efforts on television and less time in front of a live audience.
With the exception of a few small markets, the days of learning everything from the pros at sport shows are probably gone forever. But there may still be hope for those of us who need more knowledge than whatís provided in other forums.
There are a few arenas opening up for such interaction, including re-vamped national seminar events. But another format is, without question, the most technical and advanced, as I recently found out. Itís name: Pro Web Live.
Many of you remember hearing about the release of this new seminar circuit recently. The events are similar to a webinar, where the moderator is a big-name pro who teaches a very in-depth technique that heís known for. It sounded good to me when released, so I inquired further. However, when I found out each seminar required a payment of $50 to view, I thought the organizers were crazy. I like bass seminars, but not that much.
Pro Web Live will be hosting a couple free viewings in the near future, so they wanted me to get a look. After watching a previously recorded event featuring Shaw Grigsby, I concluded I was correct. The seminar wasnít worth $50.
It was worth considerably more.
I know you think Iím just here to plug for a buddy or promote something I have a vested interest in, but thatís simply not the case. You should know me better by now. After watching the previously mentioned event, I plan to sign up for many more and be a cash-paying customer just like anyone else. I absolutely loved the thing.
Which lure does Shaw Grigsby throw first when bed-fishing, nearly every time? In which color? Does he ever perform the Dawn dish soap trick to rid the water of pollen? If so, how does he disperse it? Should I catch the male bass, or leave him in the nest with the female?
These questions and dozens (if not hundreds) more were answered in the 2-hour-plus event. Sure, Grigsby promoted his sponsoring brands, but he also gave us the nitty-gritty details youíd never here in front of an audience or on TV.
I was blown away.
From what I see, the purpose of Pro Web Live is to give this type of super-hardcore information to those of us who demand it, without the need to drive across town to a sport show, pay 10 bucks to park, and probably learn next to nothing.
In contrast, each Pro Web Live event includes the ability for viewers to interact with the pros through live-feed chat boxes, almost at no limit. At the end, pros answer these very specific questions from the fans, and numerous prizes are given away Ė many that exceed the $50 event fee in value. Oftentimes these include the exact rods and reels used by pros in competition.
Pro Web Liveís organizers feel their concept is coming along nicely and report that the seminars have been quite popular. They also have seen a very strong occurrence of repeat customers, meaning those bass nuts who are purchasing the events are coming back, satisfied with the product.
But what appears to be lacking for Pro Web Live are customers willing to take the first step. In order to combat this, the group will offer free viewings for their next two events, hosted by Aaron Martens and Brent Ehrler.
Free viewers will not be eligible for prizes or be able to utilize the chat box feature and ask questions. But they, like me, will be able to sit back and watch the whole thing unfold and determine whether future events are worth the money.
Pro Web Live has partnered with online retailer Fish USA to bring these free sessions to light. From what I understand, putting this whole thing together takes a team of very smart people, some fairly sophisticated software and quite a hefty upkeep price. Fish USA is taking on the challenge of financing the upcoming viewing in order to prove a point: These events are worth the money and, once BassFans watch one, theyíll think the same.
I found the value of the Grigsby event was so potentially high that I wished I could save it on a disk and come back the night before a sight-fishing expedition. Hopefully, the Pro Web Live group will recognize the significance of the information contained in each seminar and allow us to go through the archives in the future. Iíd love to have a collection of these things.
Like I mentioned, Iíll be ready for the upcoming freebies, front and center. I encourage all of you to do the same, as I think the product will really turn a few heads. Sure, itís not for everyone, but I think at least for some of us, itís exactly what weíve been waiting for.
It sure beats an $8 hot dog, learning again how to tie a knot and a good dose of disappointment.
(Joe Balog is the often outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)