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What Rodney King and Bass Fishing Have in Common

Why Can’t We All Get Along?Rodney King said   “Why can’t we all get along?†At no time did anyone believe he was looking for an answer, but it is clear maybe one is needed.
The sport of bass fishing needs to answer his question, and the clock is ticking. Anglers are frustrated, leagues are seeing downturns and boat and motor manufacturers are looking at creative sales pitches and seemingly un-ending warranties. We are looking for a finger to put in the dike. Clearly we do not have a small leak any longer but rather a gaping hole, and many in the media seemingly want to write the headline “Bass Fishing is Dead.” Am I wrong?
I run counter to the doomsday theorists, and it revolves around angler passion. Professional bass fishing is indeed in a state of flux. Those that make a living from this sport have either worked twice as hard in the off season on sponsorships or have folded up the tent. There is no middle of the road any longer. Because of the downturn in payouts, it’s very difficult to make a living on winnings alone. This is not a new revelation and really shouldn’t surprise anyone. The fat cat days are definitely over for the foreseeable future, but those anglers that work harder have a better chance of making it than those crying the blues. Resourceful anglers have found ways to market themselves differently and provide value to the sponsor versus seeing all they can get from them.I have always believed that the professional angler is at the top of the food chain. They make it go. Technology would not be near where it is today without them. A case in point would be a quick exercise in nomenclature. GPS, tungsten, drop shot, side imaging, down scan, shaky head and numerous other buzzwords used by avid anglers would still be light years away from the mainstream without them.Every angler that fishes benefits from the pros’ diligence and desire for more. By every angler I mean every “Joe Lunchbucket.” I’m a Joe Lunchbucket, who wants to catch a few more bluegill or a big catfish or just get better on his local lake using new techniques and technology more than ever before — a direct result of the pro angler. Some would argue that competitive fishing has been both the   boon and the failure in fishing. In my 20 plus years of covering the sport, however, I see more lures, techniques, mapping capability and safety items than ever before.Ray Scott has clearly never gotten all the accolades he deserves. Catch and Release, fair tournament competition with clear rules, safety concerns while on the water with life jackets, kill switches and controlled take offs all came from Ray. I wonder how many lives would have been lost without his forward thinking approach. It’s one thing to create an idea, but clearly another to make it happen. Ray Scott did that.

We have more now. Conversely, never before are we more concerned about where we are headed. I will not stand by without a fight. I want my passion to spread and be contagious, but growing this sport is more than getting more people to participate. It needs improving too. Better can be bigger!   I am not all “fuzzy slippers” or the “warm bunny rabbit,” but I am never going to be outworked. There are smarter people who indeed know more than me. I am just in love with a sport that has become my livelihood. I am not going to stand by idly or contribute to its demise. I am going to get involved, working with others who share the same passion, and I truly believe, together, we can weather any storm. The storm has rumbled on, so it’s time “we all get alongâ€.