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Professional Anglers Association tourney

February 24, 2009 at 02:18 PM

The Duckett Exchange

Former Bassmaster Classic Boyd Duckett will write a monthly column during fishing season.

An interesting thing happened recently on Lake Toho, near Kissimmee, Florida. No, I take it back. It was way more than interesting. It was enormous for my business – the competitive fishing business.

The Professional Anglers Association (PAA) held the first tournament of its inaugural 2009 tournament trail, the Carrot Stix PAA Series, presented by Phoenix Boats. That might not sound like such a big deal at first glance. I mean, what’s so important about another big fishing tournament with a bunch of pro anglers?
But believe me on this, it was a big deal. Here’s why.

The fishing industry, from the high-dollar tournament level all the way to the mom-and-pop bait shops, is suffering. We in the fishing business are no different than the rest of the country. The economy is slamming everybody. If most of our nation’s industries are cutting back and people are losing jobs in every state, it stands to reason that boat manufacturers and fishing supply companies are also feeling the crunch.

Making it worse, companies that sponsor major sporting events and athletes are backing off. I mentioned in last week’s column that if GM is willing to cancel its sponsorship of the best golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, then how nervous do you think we, a bunch of pro anglers, are? Real nervous is the answer.

Earlier this year, the B.A.S.S. ESPN Elite Series announced that this year’s tournament schedule is being cut back. The season dropped from 11 tournaments to 8. Entry fees are being reduced; so is overall prize money. Most anglers are unhappy about it; I know I am. But I think we all understand that the corporations who produce our series (B.A.S.S. and ESPN) are struggling to find tournament sponsors, and they’re not interested in losing money.

That’s the bad news. But in this case, the PAA is stepping in and offering good news—a new tournament trail created and managed by pro anglers.
The PAA has held single events in the past, but it has never offered a series.

And at Lake Toho, we got off to an exciting start. It was cold, in the 40s most of the time. But, other than that, it felt good and it felt right. My guess is that it probably felt something like it did in 1967 when Ray Scott hosted the first B.A.S.S. tournament. It was impressive to see that when the Elite Series and FLW are being forced to go backward, the PAA is stepping in and moving forward.

Since it was the first event, there were rusty edges. But funny thing, when there was confusion on the scene, the pros stepped up and took care of the problems. At the conclusion of the event, during the disassembly of the stage, I was amazed that probably 20 pros stayed around to help break down the stage and load trailers.

The whole thing created an interesting camaraderie. Because the series belongs to the anglers, it wasn’t the Us against Them mentality that sometimes creeps up in the Elite Series and the FLW. We seem to understand that this is ours - and failure is not an option.

And as you would expect, with top anglers from both of the major tours, the competition level was sky high. We had 149 of the best anglers in the world. Brian Snowden won. Steve Kennedy was second and Todd Faircloth third. (I finished 13th.)

One other thing also was apparent.

We, the anglers, weren’t griping about ESPN or B.A.S.S. or the FLW. There’s nothing to be gained by that. They’re trying to survive, and we want those tours to survive. I know I’ll be at every Elite Series event this year, supporting the corporations that produce our tour.

But, at the same time, it has to be noted that professional fishermen want to fish. And we want to fish full-time. Our sport needs to grow, and it can’t grow if we’re cutting back.

So we the anglers, through the PAA, are going to have to help fill the void.

Please wish us luck.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I think this will help anglers from biginers to pros.The more visibility we can give our sport the more it will inspire the young people.We all know that times are going to get tough and just maybe it will help our young kids fullfill their dreams. god bless.wetahook

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 11:05 PM

Some tournament anglers opt to prefish with a local guide.  Getting a heads up on current fishing locations right away can give you a big edge in competition.  For tournaments held in the Central Florida area contact Capt Dick at Southern Outdoorsman Guide Service or check us out at http://www.bassfishingguide.com.  We offer special tournament packages to help you get ahead of the game.

Posted by CaptDick on 02/25 at 09:20 PM

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