Without dismissing the various bass fishing specialists around the Golden State, to see ourselves as others do is to recognize that California’s bass fishing image continues to diminish as the “brightest stars” take their leave.

On the one hand, we like to hold onto those who began their careers within the state boundaries, competing as friends on familiar waters. But the fact is, those we used to call our own don’t get their mail here anymore.

Even putting aside those top anglers from an earlier era such as a Gary Klein or a Byron Velvick, or even a Jay Yelas who had California roots, but headed eastward, via Arizona, the “name players” who have taken residence elsewhere have left a void.

Auburn’s Fred Roumbanis, gone to Bixby, Oklahoma. Ramona’s Kevin Hawk and Dean Rojas, gone to Guntersville, Alabama and Lake Havasu City, respectively. Castaic’s James Niggemeyer and Aaron Martens, gone to Van, Texas and Leeds, Alabama, respectively. And most recently, Lake Forest’s Joe Uribe, Jr. to Surprise, Arizona, and Fairfield’s Mark Daniels, Jr. to Tuskegee, Alabama.

When you toss in a lesser, though talented tier of anglers escaping to Lake Havasu, Las Vegas, Dallas and the like, it’s tough to say California is still one of the brightest spots in the tournament sports. Yes, we still have some notables in Skeet Reese, Brent Ehrler, Cody Meyer, Jared Lintner, Ish Monroe and Chris Zaldain, but, honestly, they are few in number.

As noted, we have some big bass specialists, dominant team players and regional specialists. Yet, in the national bass fishing arena, ours is a dim little corner these days.


6 Responses to “California image dims with pro exodus”

George, think of it this way. California spawns hundreds of great baseball players every year. Not all of them get to play for the Angels, Padres, Dodgers, Giants or A’s. The rest go to where the work is. Same thing in fishing. Want to chase the dream? Biggest stage is back East and the commute is alot less. That does not mean in any way they dont like California. Great weather, Big Fish, good home values are a plus, Bad traffic and high taxes suck. New stars born here everyday George.

Hi George,

I can see why you’d feel this way – but I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. As long as there are bass in California, the state will continue to produce excellent anglers. Some will stay and some will go – it’s just like raising kids.

From my standpoint, I never really looked at it as California, though. I always saw it as the West. Back in the ’70s there were some phenomenal anglers that graced the waters of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Nevada. Look at the old Western Bass and US Bass magazines and newsletters. Not many of them actually went east, but that was mainly for financial reasons. They could actually make a living (or supplement their day job) with Western Bass, SWAB and eventually US Bass.

It’s way different now, though. In order to make a living at the sport, you have to go east. There is no tour/trail in the western US that affords an angler to make a living. So, for the young guys trying to take a shot at their dream, they have to venture out of the west.

I partly blame it on the lack of support anglers gave the tours in the west – but that was in part due to the high cost of living in the west compared to out here in the East.

I’ve lived out here in NC now for two solid years. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t see at least one bass boat on the road to one of the lakes. There are at least 30 bass anglers within a 2-miles radius of my house. You can fish a weekday tournament nearly every night from mid-May through September and you have multiple choices on the weekends.

People out here take bass fishing seriously, more so than I would have ever believed, and there are 1,000s of them.

To fish a BFL region, you don’t have to drive more than 150 miles in any direction. AND, you won’t believe the number of anglers competing in these events with boats that are over 20 years old (in some cases even older). I’m talking 17-foot boats with 115hp motors. They don’t care – they just want to compete.

Anyway, I don’t think you have to worry too much about the talent draining out of CA. When one leaves another will pop up.

by Jojo Norwood

Free Ramps and nobody makes you wash your livewell either. Just show-up and gofishit. I hope the West Coast fans show-up to support the guys when they swing thru this year.

Grovers boy is already as good as Aaron Martens! Let’s send him back east!! Why doesnt billionaire Johnny Morris bass pro shops start a tour, team up with won bass and give boats as first prize. Johnny I know you like selling your boats and tackle, opening up new stores, well it’s time to step up. then our guys won’t have to leave California. George, if you have Johhnys number text him my idea, lol.

by George Kramer

Not saying guys can’t or won’t succeed on bigger stage. But this is where we are right now. And “stepping up” is easier said than done. As for watching the Elites, westerners are a little jaded when it comes to being “fans.” Some locals will show up…

From the Spotted Bass lakes of Shasta and Oroville, the Florida Bass of the natural waters at Clear Lake, to the tidal waters of the Delta to our Colorado River system from Lake Powell thru to Lake Martinez full of northerns and smallmouth I believe we have the best training grounds here in the west. Master these waters and you can cash checks anywhere.