This is an Opinion post from reader Chad Keogh and doesn’t necessarily speak for Varsity Bass. Chad has been bass fishing in Canada for over 40 years and has been following professional bass fishing since 2000. Chad has won numerous club-level tournaments and one provincial Open. He lives and fishes on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
Will High School and College Fishing Save Professional Bass Angling?
The short answer is, hopefully. Some of you might be saying, “Professional bass fishing isn’t in trouble! What’s this guy talking about?” To you I would say:
Pros who are really good anglers, but not particularly good marketers of themselves, leave the tours every year. Sponsor dollars are also getting more diluted every year with everyone trying to build a better offering, such as the Professional Anglers Association, Major League Fishing, Outdoor Heritage, and now the World Series of Bass.
If the status quo were working, these other groups would likely have never gotten past the planning stage, but clearly there are a number of Pros out there who feel they’ve been fishing for their own money via entry fees.
The reason I’m hopeful that high school and college competitive bass fishing could put professional bass fishing on a proper track is that they are closest to doing it right in my opinion. High school and college anglers pay only nominal fees or nothing at all, and are often given lodging/travel allowances.
I’m not suggesting that BASS and FLW give the pros lodging and travel allowances, but their team sponsors should, which brings me to what else is needed …
In other professional sports, a student is noticed in their prospective sport and given a scholarship. They play for the high school or college and are eventually noticed and picked up by a large team. In professional bass fishing, this could be Team Chevy/Triton/Mercury/MotorGuide/Lowrance, or Team Tundra/Skeeter/Yamaha/Minn Kota, or any other variation of major sponsors.
Think about it … there could be a Draft for professional fishing.
You get a team deal during school or after you graduate, here’s your team jersey, wrapped tow vehicle, wrapped boat, rods, reels, line, tackle, gas card, and event schedule including tournaments and public appearances. You work for them and are paid a base salary plus commission based on performance, and get to keep all prize money/trophies.
As it stands now, professional anglers need to be excellent fisherman, but you also need a marketing degree to learn how to “sell yourself” to truly survive. Shouldn’t it be enough that your performance in the sport gets you sponsorship.
That’s what happens in other sports, why not professional bass fishing?
So, what do you think? Will college fishing have a big impact on the Pro scene?