To thine own self be true!
You know I sit around sometimes and look at the sport of bass fishing that I love so much and think about all the great friends that I have made, memories that will never be forgotten and countless number of hours I have spent on the water chasing that somewhat elusive little green fish and I think to myself……Self, are you happy with what you have done and accomplished in the world of bass fishing? And my answer is YES! I have always been and love being a local and amateur fisherman. Never really had the desire to “make it big” and travel the country fishing. Number one, I am not that good at bass fishing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love it and I give it my all and I win a few and loose a lot but I still love this sport with all that I have but I just am not “pro” material. I really came to grips with the fact that I am not cut out for the “professional” side of this sport when for two years I worked part time for a very high level professional angler as a project manager when not working as a full time Deputy Sheriff. The world of being a pro angler is a lot of days away from home and I am a family man so it was just not my cup of tea. Notice I said “my” cup of tea.
Anyway……now that is out of the way, here is the meat and potatoes of why I am writing this. Nowadays there seems to be this huge emphasis on becoming a “professional” angler and at what appears to be, at all cost. I see too many guys that are getting into the sport for what also appears to be fame and notoriety and have 0 ability. I see guys that start fishing, join a bass club and then the next year have a boat and fishing the boater side of the FLW. Nothing wrong with that but the majority (90%) aren’t ready to compete at that level. So why do they do it? In my opinion it just to get away from that so called “stigma” of being a local or amateur. Being an amateur has now become that Scarlet Letter “A” that no one wants associated with their name or much less their facebook title. Being an amateur isn’t anything to be ashamed of at all. Heck, 18 years into this sport and I am just a local, can’t even claim to be an amateur and I am dang proud of it. Best local on my home lake at least 30 minutes to an hour of every year. Man, when they turn on and feed I am the best local there is within a 200 yard radius of my boat.
Seriously, I would venture to say all professional fisherman out there knew when it was their time to step up and swing for the fences, it they hadn’t they wouldn’t be where they are now. I also would step out and say a vast majority of young anglers have no idea what living the life of a professional fisherman is like. Lot’s of time away from home, away from friends, family, loved ones and kids. It takes a lot of heart and determination to make it at the level they operate and I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me and even if it were, with young kids, it wouldn’t be fair to my family.
This sport is ever changing and getting younger every day with the high school trails and college trails, which I think are great for getting the sport that we love out to our youth. That combined with tournament trails offering heart stopping amounts of money to even guys that aren’t professional fisherman, it is rather easy to get caught up in the “I gotta be a professional fisherman” movement. Maybe the movement needs a reality check and should perhaps digress back to more guys learning how to fish at the club level before they “step up their game” one year after learning how to throw a baitcaster. I see a lot of guys spending more time worrying about what they are going to wear at the next BFL or Open than they are spending time breaking the lake down or learning new techniques that can benefit them on the water.
At 5X3 we support locals and amateurs and hope that everyone here obtains his or her goals within this sport but we also have to know our own limitations and not get sucked into progressing at a level we aren’t ready for. This sport was not built overnight nor is it going anywhere anytime soon. I guess in closing I am saying that “local” and “amateur” are not four letter words in the sport that we love. More emphasis should be placed on the ability to actually catch fish than the ability to play at a level that you just aren’t ready for. This sport was founded by “bank beaters” and “minnow drowners” and we all have our place in the sport. Just more people need to realize that they simply aren’t ready to eat at the “adult table.” Shoot, some of my best times were spent at the little table in the corner playing with people that we more like me anyway. Some times we just have to step back and take a long hard look at ourselves and ask “are we really ready for this level?” A wise man once told me that if you couldn’t win the majority of the local club tournaments that you fish then you aren’t ready for the next step. Just be proud of who you are and most importantly “to thine own self be true.”