Friday, August 21, 2009

To "Wanna Be" or not to "Wanna Be"

Everyone has a dream sometime or another in their lives about what they would like to do. When I was a child, I always wanted to become a pediatrician most likely because I spent a lot of time in a hospital at the age of 5 away from my family due to rheumatic fever. For years afterward, I visited doctors and felt that they actually cared about my recovery.

I eventually worked with children in the public school setting as a middle school counselor. I even ran a bass fishing club for over 20 yrs. with the children I counseled. A lot of "On The Water" time was spent with some of my students.

There are a lot of young men and women who are growing up and watching pro anglers on television every week. This phenomenon started back in the 1970's and is continuing still today. These young folks see the likes of KVD and Mike "Ike" and say, "I would like to do that someday.I think I can."

After spending several years competing in District 3, Pa. B.A.S.S. Federation, open tournaments, local clubs, and guiding for a few years on the Susquehanna River, I've developed a homespun philosophy regarding tournament angling.

Just like in all professions, it takes all kinds to make up the ranks. I've seen some really kind and considerate tournament anglers who were aware of the environment and those fishing around them (including their riders) and then I met many who were very selfish and put their personal integrity on the line for a few bucks. It's most likely the latter tournament anglers who stick out and draw attention from those who do not do or believe in tournaments for one reason or another.

JC was a middle school student of mine back in the 80's and we grew up into good friends and fishing buddies. JC teamed up with Tony Cicero as a premier open tournament angling team back in the 1990's. They were especially good in dirty to muddy water conditions. I remember back in those days of having a very deep discussion with JC Nuss, who now works with his wife, Barb, in running Lakeside Marine, Harrisburg, PA. On the many fishing trips we took together, we would discuss life in general and tournament angling. In one of those many discussions, we beat around the idea of public use of the PA. waterways. For example, we see pleasure boaters, jet skiers, and anglers of many types (catfish, bass, walleye, musky, etc.) to name just a few of the many. Our discussion centered around the legality of each activity and the illegality of some of their activities (jet skiers leaping wakes, etc.). We both came to the conclusion that the Pa. public waterways is not controlled by just one special interest group or another. Yet, we know many who would like to be in control and get all the others off the waters. Now don't we?

I'm here to say that, "It ain't gonna happen!"

It's okay to be a "Wanna Be" bass pro and it's okay not to be a "Wanna Be" bass pro.
Wanting to be one is a dream that can only be accomplished by someone who is willing to 1. put the time in on the water, 2. learn from all, 3. willing to seek financial support because it isn't cheap. There are ways of going about each of these that are very positive and then there are ways to do so through negative ways (i.e. cheating). It's a shame the negative behaviors stand out greatly among this group and leave a terribly bad taste in many anglers' mouths.

If you have a desire to be a bass angling pro, do the best you can. Please be kind, respectful, and considerate to those around you as you pursue your dream. And, be a aware that there are those anglers among us that despise any form of tournament angling. Just like it's your prerogative to pursue your dream in a legal way, it is also their right to an opinion about how the resource should be handled.

An awareness of these differences will serve you in the long run. Good luck with your dream and remember, it's the resource that "butters your bread."