- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Doug Grassian, the publicist for ESPN Outdoors and BASS Communications, wasn’t happy about my “Pro anglers can’t press public waters” column that ran April 29.

The column dealt with a bass fishing event on Smith Mountain Lake in southwestern Virginia and how a local tournament group decided it would hold a fishing contest at the same time the big guns of competition fishing, the touring BASS pros from all around the country, would be on the water.

That the international BASS organization didn’t like interference from another group was made plain in an editorial in Bassmaster magazine in which its editor lit into a bunch of Virginians, known as Beat the Elites, saying, “Why would someone come up with such a selfish tournament format?” and mentioning how the professionals had mortgages to pay, families to support and other obligations to meet. (Like we don’t?)

The editor, James Hall, received support from BASS Tour luminaries like Skeet Reese and Ish Monroe, both of California. They recoiled at being “disrespected” and how locals might “hammer” on the fish and - again - how they had families to support.

My answer to all this simply was that the Virginia fishermen perhaps had more of a right to the lake waters they help pay for and maintain with their taxes, licenses and fees than a for-profit out-of-state tournament organization. (Anticlimactically, the local “Beat the Elites” tournament group never held its event.)

Grassian responded via e-mail.

“I saw your article [regarding] the recent ‘Beat the Elites’ and its overlap with a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament,” he wrote. “The particular event you wrote about on Smith Mountain Lake was of a different volition than a regular local tournament. [You] failed to mention the positioning of the event as it was orchestrated to directly compete against our event.”

Grassian objected to my describing the coincidence of conducting a competing contest as “just another tournament.” He thought that was misleading because the locals wanted to go up directly against the out-of-towners.

And what’s wrong with that?

Grassian said BASS has no problem with local tournaments being held at the same time as BASS events: “Local events regularly coincide with our on-the-water events. After all, fisheries are resources that are here for all to enjoy.”

So there you have it. BASS loves everybody and dislikes no one but doesn’t particularly care for any fishing club or group to come right out and say, “We’re going to whip you.”

Oh, and the touring pros have home mortgages to pay and families to support, so we ought to be mindful of that - even if the cast-for-cash guys use public waters that, as Grassian says, are here for all to enjoy. But I suppose that applies to some more than others.

If Grassian saw the e-mails I received from regular bass fishermen upset with his company, I wonder whether he still would be as enthusiastic.

Trout Unlimited chapter meets- The National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited invites the public to join its members at 7:15 p.m. on May 13 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Services Center. Fisheries biologist David Policansky will present a talk titled “Adventures at Bristol Bay.” It’s all about Alaska and Bristol Bay’s fishing opportunities for salmon, grayling, giant rainbows and Dolly Varden trout. For more information, go to ncc-tu.org.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/ sports.

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