- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Jay Kumar, who runs BassFan.com, says the movers and shakers of ESPN met last week with a group of bass pros to talk about creating a "true" bass fishing tour. BassFan.com is a Web site that begins and ends with all things connected to bass fishing, particularly tournaments. The tour would be a new deal consisting of a small field of proven bass pros, reminiscent of touring golf pros so talented they know they can make the cut. The number of pros being bandied about is 50 per tour event, not the 200-plus competitors seen in major tournaments.
There are few details now, but Kumar put the question of an exclusive ESPN pro bass tour on his Web site, and comments came quickly from tournament-hungry amateurs.
After reading about the possibility of ESPN which recently bought the 600,000-member international Bass Anglers Sportsman Society backing the deal, Scott Wildharber, of LaCenter, Ky., wrote BassFan.com saying, "I'm sick of the FLW and BASS [tournament groups]. There are a lot of good amateur fishermen who do not care to leave their families and join the tour but do fish occasionally in tournaments. If the 'pros' are tired of the amateurs getting 'lucky,' then I would suggest they take up golf because fishing is more 'luck' than is golf. I feel the [fishing] industry is at an all-time low trying to exclude the guys who pave the way, the 'amateurs.' Everyone talks about all the fishing licenses that are sold each year. I wonder [how many] of those anglers actually give a rip about BASS or the FLW."
(I have news for you, Scott. The vast majority of the 30-odd million bass hounds in the United States don't give a hang about any organized bass group. For example, with well more than a half-million freshwater fishermen in Maryland alone, why does the Maryland BASS State Federation have only 1,100 members?)
Will Petty, of Lynchburg, Va., wrote, "I think that the new format [would be] good and bad. It is good with respect to the coverage each angler would receive. But it also would shut out the possibility of up-and-coming pros [making] a splash on the circuit due to lack of spaces in the tour. I think the tournament directors are skating on thin ice with these new proposals by taking the focus away from the anglers and trying to cater to the public. Who is doing the competing, the anglers or the television broadcasters?"
(Sorry, Will. It's the big-bucks broadcasters.)
Others wrote that a kind of elitism seemed to be evolving. One e-mailer said, "If you don't have a TV show, a $40,000 boat (Triton or Skeeter only) or won $100,000 in some event, you're persona-non-grata." Another bass hound accurately pointed out that "NASCAR fans don't have the wherewithal to actively participate in their sport and, as spectators, willingly participate in idolatry of their favorite stars. But in bass fishing, everyone has the opportunity to participate side-by-side with the pros and given the 50 percent pure luck that is fishing, could even outperform them once in a while. I believe the participation of us amateurs is what makes bass fishing what it is. As a spectator sport, I believe it has little appeal. Please do not let this sport become commercialized and elitist."
But some, like John Garrison of Mattoon, Ill., wrote, "I think the idea of a 50-pro elite tour is a good one. It would allow the pros to fish smaller lakes. This would generate much more interest than the current format."
Ron Zapfe of Glenview, Ill., believes the ESPN-owned BASS organization has forgotten the people who made it so successful, the small fishing club participants and the amateurs. "Fishing pros are cool," he wrote, "but the amateurs are the buying public. Personally, I would love to see a pro-am BASS Classic [fishing championship]. It's probably going against the marketing strategy of ESPN, but the big market is [made up of] amateurs and their egos."
Canada is OK, eh Richmonder Don Mace opened a can of worms with his recent e-mail to us regarding the problems he encountered with anti-gun officials while hunting and fishing in Canada. St. Paul, Minn., reader Clayton Helmer wrote, "Responding to your Oct. 17 article, I have recently returned from an enjoyable waterfowl hunting trip to Saskatchewan and did not find [government-mandated] gun registration a problem. Everyone was quite friendly and helpful. The Canadian Firearms Centre Web site (www.cfc-ccaf.gc.ca) helped us prepare for the trip and is a must for all hunters planning to go to Canada.
"There was an error in your story in regards to the $50 registration fee for each gun brought into Canada. The $50 Canadian (about $30 U.S.) fee covers any quantity of guns and barrels brought into Canada as I brought two guns plus a 20-gauge tube set with me."
Others wrote that Mace was wrong by saying a four walleye limit was all you could have while fishing in the part of Canada he was in. Not so. Apparently, there is a daily four walleye limit, not a week- or month-long one.

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