FRIDAY UPDATE–There was a new leader going into the final day at the Columbia River, but as noted below, the numbers held. It took 8 pounds a day to get a check; 14 of the 28 money winners (same percentage as in the field) were from the Golden State. However, only 4 or 40 percent made the cut–giving the home court to anglers in the Northwest.

We know now the highly touted National Guard FLW Series West (see it) has drawn 85 boats, and a Californian is tied for the lead after two days. But there is even more to consider than the overall total (which was quite a bit better than many had predicted.)

The percentage of pro participants breaks down like this:

The Pacific Northwest of Washington, Oregon (the host states) plus Idaho and Utah only make up 39 percent of the field. California, Arizona and Nevada (the latter traditionally the state with the fewest entrants in any contest outside of Lake Mead) make up the other 61 percent. But more than that, 43 anglers or roughly 51 percent of the field are from California. It’s a California circuit that needs to be configured for that reality.

The current field is the equivalent of 57 percent of a full field (150 boats). But remember, that imaginary number is only 75 percent of the organization’s original full field of 200 boats before FLW downgraded the tournament market. Compared to those high and unrealistic expectations, the Columbia River produced only 43 percent of a full field this weekend.

So what does that indicate? For one, it means that $4,000 is a hard number to come up with as a pro entry fee. And with the long, resource-draining trip to the tournament site (more than 800 miles from Los Angeles), expenses are extremely high, even with running mates to split the costs.

Conclusion? Don’t look for any repeat trips to the land of Lewis and Clark in the near future. Even counting potential “cherry pickers” (and doesn’t FLW wish they had more of those?) there are not enough anglers up there to sustain the tour. And if there are not enough to sustain a tour, it also means there are not enough boat customers to justify the bonus payments.

I won’t go so far, as some have concluded, to say that the FLW Series won’t be back. But with the constricted pool of fishermen in the West (who are still financially able to play the tournament game) the FLW Series is in trouble because it is actually competing with its own Stren Series for disposable dollars.

That can’t be good for business.


One Response to “FLW numbers tell the story at Columbia River”

Statistically you’re right, Geo. At the beginning of FLW, I was a little surprised that the organization even went to the Northwest. In back of my head I knew the number of fisherman were low because of the area (known for Trout, Steelhead, and Salmon). Only in the last 10 years the sport of Bass Fishing has grown in numbers. If you look at any other Pro-Am, you will see the same gentleman and the number is low, 10-15 at the most.

I can’t blame FLW, I guess, like other organizations, didn’t see what was coming (the Economy and the downturn). They, like the rest, pull their permits a year plus in advance. For what I hear, they are only going as far as Shasta next year with 4 other lakes included and two of them will be in the South. We will know in July when they, the group of organizations, pull their permits. I think all of the organizations on the West Coast are up in the air on what they are going to do in 2010. The numbers are all low for all the org’s with the exception of team tournaments and even some of them are low.

This is only my perception. The fishing industries are down in sales mostly the high end items. This should be an indicator also.