Outdoor Articles

Bagwell’s Bass Tactics: Pro Bass Fishing Going Union?

by Pursue The Outdoors on June 27th, 2005 in Freshwater Fishing

In recent weeks, it was announced that the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) had been revived. Shortly thereafter my email account was bombarded and my phone starting ringing even more than usual. It seemed as though everyone wanted to know how I thought the current events would affect professional fishing.

According the PAA’s official website, “The mission of the Professional Anglers Association is to advocate angler positions with the major tours on issues such as schedules, rules, payout and qualification criteria, as well as develop additional revenue opportunities for them. The PAA also develops educational events for our supporting members designed to advance the supporting members angling skills.” While these sound like great ideas, they might be just that, ideas.

I believe that in order for the PAA to succeed this time around, the level of participation needs to be really high. Just like the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers. They need to have a strong 70 to 80 percent (if not more) of the anglers in their corner. If there is limited support, I am sure the PAA will return to a much deeper and more permanent grave.

What tends to happen when leaders in any circle attempt to bring everyone together, is many members take the “wait and see” approach. They standby and wait to see how successful the organization is before they join. While this may not be the most noble approach, you can’t fault people for being cautious when it involves their jobs. These anglers have families to worry about and they are not willing to risk much to get ahead.

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If the PAA is going to come back from the dead and overtake the B.A.A.C. (B.A.S.S. Athlete Advisory Council) as the voice of B.A.S.S. anglers, the group needs to be stronger and they need to be willing to do “whatever” it takes to get the job done. If these anglers are not willing to take matters to the extreme, if need be, they will not get very far with B.A.S.S. The folks at ESPN and B.A.S.S. have the upper hand in everything that has anything to do with the Bassmaster Tour. If they say the Tour season is going to last eleven months, it will last for eleven months. If they don’t want anglers driving their own boats, they won’t be driving their own boats. They wanted anglers wearing a Busch Beer patch and if you recall, they had to wear the patch. Unless something changes, anglers will never have much to say about anything that is affecting them on Tour.

As of right now, some of the members of the PAA are not willing to do what it takes to get what they want. Even more detrimental, is the fact that only a limited number of anglers have joined so far. If ESPN and B.A.S.S. do not want to give the anglers what they feel they deserve, then the anglers should boycott a tournament or two. Right now that will simply not take place. This is because the ties that bind are about as tough as four pound test monofilament. The only way the anglers are going to get their boats back, get higher payouts and pay lower entry fees is if they band together and show B.A.S.S. that they are not willing to give in. Until then, they are about as intimidating as a Pit-bull with no teeth. They have one heck of a mean bark, but the bite leaves something to be desired.

Right now, the officials at B.A.S.S. do not see a need for the PAA and they will not pay much attention to what they say or demand. When PAA President Kevin VanDam and Vice President Mark Davis can convince fellow anglers to join the team and standup for what they feel is right, the organization will see an increase in power. For the sake of future Tour Pros, I hope that the PAA is successful. If not, you will have to be related to Bill Gates just to be able to afford the entry fees. We will continue to have Bassmaster Classic Qualifying anglers that have been Pros for more than ten years and have an average yearly winning rate of $12,500.

If “Professional” fishing is going to exist, these anglers need to at least get paid to fish. Right now, a very select few are actually making money by fishing tournaments, the rest are barely getting by. If the PAA has their way, that will all change for the better.

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