The long-time mantra in bass fishing is “to grow the sport.” But what that really means is to narrow the scope of who are the professional fishermen, while at the same time, increasing the general number of participants.

I said it quite some time ago, but professional bass fishing isn’t about you. It’s about a few name players–skilled ones–but a limited number. As a profession within an industry, sponsors want household names that can sustain their marketing goals for years.

What they don’t want is, as former B.A.S.S. Times Senior Writer Michael Jones called, the “pro de jour.” Here today in a flash; out tomorrow with the trash.

And here’s what B.A.S.S. principle Jerry McKinnis said today in an interview on

“I still want a smaller group of professional anglers with a bona fide career. Right now, we have a little bit too many guys, I think, that have a real career. I’m not sure, but I think most of them are wondering what they’re going to do about their next tournament entry fee. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be. I don’t think we can call ourselves a true sport until we get that worked on and figured out.”

The great irony, as I see it, is the thrust of “organized” bass fishing into the college and even high school ranks. What forum do they use to stimulate the younger generation? They create the illusion of angling prominence with teams and championships–while at the same time, admitting a desire to limit the number of professionals.

Does anyone else see the conflict there?


6 Responses to “Pro fishing ranks bloated–B.A.S.S. agrees”

IMHO – bass fishing, fundamentally is not a spectator sport to the extent required to advance it into big league status. Because – and surfing is another example, those organizing the event can’t control the flow of the event, much less it’s outcome. And like it or not, in order to reach “entertainment” status, you have to be able to do that. It’s mother nature – sometimes the bass (or waves) cooperate and sometimes they don’t – if that’s what people want to see. Personally, the tougher the conditions, the more intersting as far as I’m concerned but I’m part of the hardcore and people like McKinnis are aiming at the folks that are more casual about fishing otherwise his model doesn’t add up – hoo-ha and corporate sponsors. He’s trying to sell the sizzle with a small (managed) group of iconic participants. And their public image is whole other story.

I think bass fishing as a sport is and will remain fundamentally a grass roots sport with a more limited set of opportunities to become wealthy as McKInnis and company are obviously trying to do.

Become too elite and maybe you screw the whole thing up.

Great take, CC. It was simpler back when Ray Scott first defined a professional bass fisherman as “a guy with $300 [entry fee] and the week off.” 😉

Ray Scott was very successful with his model. It might still work today.

We all remember that “first kiss,” davek, but you know, you just can’t go back….

Financial reality has a way of determining where you can go.

No different than any other sport. I learned alot about bass fishing by just watching. I enjoy keeping up with the elite group.