Today you get an offer in the mail every week. But when I graduated from college, the thing I got the most of were offers from credit card companies–hopefully banking that my degree would somehow morph into a healthy income where I would be charging up a storm.

The parallel now is the way college bass anglers are being given priority over the guys who have been carrying (funding) the industry on the one hand, with a few who are actually taking the steps to become professionals.

Hey, I love my alma mater. Go Dirtbags! But this putting some undergrad (well, collegian Andrew Upshaw at age 25 has graduated) into tomorrow’s Bassmasters Classic is even worse than the Federated Nation, low road entry route. More unfortunate? They’ve already put this kid on TV and he is average, at best.

Average–yet he gets the red carpet to the Red River, a poor fishery that only helps an amateur’s chances.

Of course, this move toward Joe College has nothing to do with pro fishing. It’s about marketing. Worried that angling is losing popularity, B.A.S.S. and others are trying to intercept would-be customers before they slip away into something else.  I do too–but that doesn’t mean I’ll give the neighbor kid the keys to my rig.

And what really gripes me is the industry is funneling potential sponsor money to college kids or college fishing events. Why don’t these non-scholarship student-anglers just sell magazines or candy bars or raffle tickets like every other underfunded sport?

In the meantime, the guy who is working two part-time jobs so he can buy his gear and take his rig on the trail gets the “sad face” from the industry. Doesn’t anyone get it? Once these college kids leave their school teams and have to get a job, they’re not going to be buying tackle. They’re going scratching by on Team Ramen Noodle.




6 Responses to “The Classic, college and the consequences”

I’ve always thought the College Fishing stuff was a strange deal. Treated as semi-pro’s all through school, I’d guess many will be in for a reality check when their options are the local clubs, or the weeknight jackpot. No special treatment there.

Everybody gets their 15. Why grudge them their chance?

Because it’s just a gimmick and it cheapens the product, Rich. But other than that, I like college fishing, though not as much as college soccer.

by Derrek Stewart

In my opinion most involved with this niche (bass fishing) within a niche (fishing) can’t step outside their own shoes and see things how they actually are. So why even worry about it? There is a bigger question here anyway.

What is the point of college? Isn’t one of the main intentions to produce a prosperous career or at the very least accomplish leverage on life? Take a look at what that means when it comes to professional tournament bass fishing.

The odds of this “sport” leading to retirement, but for a very slight few, is as of yet not going to happen. College team fishing is marketed on the concept of bringing new life into this sport. That might be the case but it has the appearance of addiction in that it is just another effort to support the dealer.

Youth is the life blood of our sport, without young talent the sport suffers due to lack of new recruits. There isn’t a lack of youth in tournament bass fishing today.
With that said, the college bass fishing program awards the winners; there is no reason to offer an additional carrot. The Bassmaster Classic should be earned by competing against your peers, not other students, anything else dumbs down the achievement.

I honestly don’t know that it’s dumbing down things at all. It seems to me a lot of these young guys are hungry and for their level of experience aren’t that bad of fishermen. Think of guy like Palaniuk who was 46th in the money of Pro’s from both Tours last year (ahead of Hackney,) and Bradley Roy who was the Rookie of the Year in 2010. Sure they are gonna have to struggle a bit, but I wouldn’t presume to say that don’t belong there. Andrew Upshaw is fishing FLW as a pro this year and has fished the Open’s. Some of these College kids are quite serious. Upshaw beat 12 Elite Series Pro’s in the Classic and almost made the cut.