Saturday, December 11, 2010

To Boyd Duckett (and Kevin Short): I Disagree

On his two blogs (Boyd's Blog, Boyd's Biz Boyd Ducket writes a blog post entitled: "To Kevin Short: I agree" or at Boyd's Biz: "Dear Kevin Short — I agree with you"

Boyd is responding to Kevin Short's essay found on the blog Bass Parade entitled Short Challenges Duckett, All Elites

Boyd writes:
...But let me address another thing that Kevin said, because he made a great point. He said he would be happy if we, the pro anglers, could receive no information at any time about the bodies of water we’re going to fish. No help from locals, in other words.

I agree with that 100 percent.

I think a “no help rule” would be outstanding — a great thing for our sport.

I think Boyd and Kevin Short are 100% wrong about this. One of the greatest things about the sport of fishing, any kind of fishing, is that the sport is heavily built upon personal relationships. Ray Scott had it right in the beginning when he recognized that bass fishing could and should be a fraternity. Getting help from others when it comes to fishing is a feature, not a bug. It's a feature precisely because it builds relationships and community and isn't that what we claim is important? I believe a "no help rule ever" sends the wrong message to bass anglers everywhere. The flip side of you can't get help, is that it is wrong to give help. There is already too much of that kind of attitude when it comes to bass tournament anglers as it is now.

I've seen it on Facebook where Professional anglers due to "no info rules" have basically had to tell someone to shut up and keep it to themselves when offered a simple helpful suggestion. Shutting out others especially with the technology we have at our fingertips now is the wrong way to go, period.

I add more thoughts at Forums...

Friday, November 05, 2010


"Christianity is my faith, fishing is my religion"
Keith Wiley on Al Lindners Facebook in an answer about why fishing is important to him.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Thoughts On Six Idea's

BassFan Editor-In-Chief Jon Storm wrote an Op-Ed entitled "Upon the Cliff" where he threw out 6 ideas that he would like to see implemented by the new management at BASS and FLW.

Here are the 6 ideas and my thoughts.

1. The sport needs a unifying championship to survive. Period.

I guess a unifying championship would be OK, but I don't think it's something that is vital. Also I wonder exactly what Storm has in mind as there is a lot of different ways you can go with this. It isn't clear to me what a unifying championship would look like.

2. The sport needs a joint conservation, youth and legislative body to take on the antis and polluters. We must ensure there are players and a playing field for the sport in the future.

I view this one as another nice, but not necessary. It is not clear to me that having one big centralized initiative is better than having a diverse coalition of smaller initiatives of varying sizes.

3. Tours should be exclusive, not inclusive. Billy Joe shouldn't get to fish against Kevin VanDam, Skeet Reese or Brent Ehrler just because he's got a trust fund or a gas well in his backyard. Make it tough to get on a tour and demand a multiyear performance level to stay there.

On this one I think there are Pro's and Con's for both approaches. Obviously the Elite Series is more exclusive and the FLW Tour is more inclusive. I think there is room for both models.

4. The sport needs to ditch its focus on 1st-place payout and balance the payout down the field. Once you pay your dues to reach a tour, it should be a profitable or break-even venture to stay there. And fans simply don't care how much a pro athlete wins at an event.

I tend to agree with this point as I think it's something that will make the sport more sustainable for those trying to live the dream.

5. Outlaw made-for-TV events and formats, like the BASS post-season or the FLW Tour cut to the Top 5.

Obviously there are serious flaws with the BASS post-season that need to be addressed and scrapping the thing wholesale might be the answer. As far as the FLW cut to 5, I'm not really sure why he singled this out. Cut to 5, Cut to 10, Cut to 12 whatever cutting the field down makes sense to me.

6. Distribute house money fairly. As BASS stabilizes, it should use sponsor money to cut entry fees first, boost purses second. Same for the FLW Tour. But also, performance should dictate who gets FLW sponsor-team deals, not who you know, what you look like or which boat you drive. And FLW team money should go to tour pros only, not co-anglers.

I was right with this one until he advocated cutting out the Co-Anglers. As I've made clear on many occasions, I believe Co-Anglers are good for the sport. I think it is a feature that bass fishing has an avenue open for fans to fish with the Pro's while in serious competition. I think Co-Anglers should have a shot at incentives and a piece of the pie. This kind of gets to one of the Cons about making the sport more exclusive. I think as you make professional bass fishing more exclusive you limit the overall outreach potential of the sport. Kevin Van Dam can only be in one place at a time. More people are on the radar screen when you have an army of Tami Curtis's, Chris Ricci's, Matt Peters and Ashley Rae's. I certainly think more can be done to promote Co-Anglers and to get Co-Anglers out promoting themselves and the sport.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mike Hart Cheating Scandal- My Thoughts

I am not really sure if I even have a dog in this fight. On the one hand I have and do fish bass tournaments, but on the other hand I never have been very serious about it in terms of monetary investment and probably never will get to that point, so basically there is no chance that I have or will get swindled personally. Whether I have a dog or not here are my thoughts.

I think this guy Mike Hart as a bass fisherman is the worst kind of cheater you can get and is total scum for it. Not only was he into ripping off people but he did it in such a way that I think was harmful and cruel to the fish. And while I don't know the science, I would suspect stuffing ounces of lead into the bellies of bass who could possibly go on to survive for long periods of time with the lead in their belly after the deed would create a lead poisoning risk for humans who might eat the fish. I hope he gets charged for environmental damages beyond the obvious fraud involved.

My second thought on the matter is that I am pretty sure this was not the first time he has commited the fraud. Those weights looked to be specifically made for the purpose by which they were used and the system was so slick that a the Co-Angler in the boat wouldn't and didn't even notice anything suspicious. On bass fishing message boards I have seen it documented that this guy has won thousands upon thousands of dollars in tournaments over the past several years and from what I understand he has been a highly successful tournament fisherman for more than a decade. I think all of that "success" gets called into question. I think he needs to come clean about the scope of his cheating and should at a minimum pay back entry fees of all the anglers he has defrauded over the years. Short of that I hope there is enough grounds and legal standing for civil liability to force the issue if he isn't forthcoming.

My final thought is that Mike Hart seems to have been a very very good fishermen seemingly without "the need" to cheat to do well for himself. The cheating on top of that, however, would often be enough to push him over the top from an OK finish, right into where the big money comes into play because of the way tournament dollars are allocated in a top heavy manor. This gets us back to my second point in that I think he owes a lot of people their money back. I don't know Mike Hart's financial situation but I hope he can afford to be "generous" in his contrition. If not, bankruptcy isn't too large a price. You have to feel for his wife and family, but that is true for all innocent familial relations of criminals.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pete Peeve 2

Pete is a friend from the Fishers of Men Fishing Club (Twin Cities) that is in the Minnesota National Guard. Pretty much every month when he does his Guard drilling he leaves his dog Sandy with us and then when the drill is over he stays for several days, sometimes more than a week. Pete loves to fish and so do I, but not necessarily with Pete; He can be a real buzzkill at times.

Tonight Pete and I were out on Platte Lake fishing for pike and I was constantly reminded of another reason, he is a pain to fish with. He is a constant and demanding back seat driver when I'm in control of the boat. He is constantly demanding adjustments of coarse and suggesting were we should fish. When he makes a demand about where to go and we get a fish off of it he just gets arrogant and even more demanding. Tonight the fish bit good so I had to constantly deal with this kind of BS.

Both times fishing with him today, there were times I just wanted to be somewhere else.

Sorry about the whining, but sometimes you got to vent.

Pete Peeve #1 here...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Minnesota Closed Bass Season, More Thoughts

As happens at this time every year there is a lot of chatter on Minnesocold fishing forums about our closed season for bass. Guys are upset that they see people out fishing for bass when they shouldn't be. And guys like me are upset that catch and release bass fishing is against the law to begin with. And yet other guys are quite happy with the way things are and don't want to see any change at all. has an interesting thread this year discussing the closed season entitled "Bare with me" The guy who started the thread tends to favor keeping the status quo.

The question is asked:

Do you feel that there is a connection between our great fishing and having a closed season.. or is it more a matter of us having more water and less pressure than other states..

Personally I don't see a connection between great fishing and a closed season or even great fishing and less pressure. In Minnesota we are blessed with lots of water that features ideal habitat for bass and thus we have a robust bass fishery. If you look around a little you see that bodies of water like Kentucky Lake or Gunterville that have absolutely phenomenal bass fishing that is arguably far better than anything Minnesota can offer and they are bodies of water that have no closed season and have tremendous fishing pressure applied to them. What do Kentucky Lake and Guntersville have that allows those fisheries to be so good? The simple answer is good habitat for bass. If you have the good habitat, and we do, than nothing else matters because bass are a prolific species. I think this conclusion is pretty clear cut.

Towards what is currently the end of the thread someone floats the idea that Minnesocold should have a special early season bass catch and release stamp that people can buy that would allow them to pursue bass pretty much any time they want. I am 100% for the idea and would be willing to pay a significant amount of money for such a stamp. As it stands right now, I could care less if someone is fishing for bass in the closed season because I think it is a lousy law and I don't think any real harm is done. Put a price on it and allow catch and release fishing, then I would care about people fishing bass if they didn't pay for the privilege. I'm funny like that.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

That's A Lot of accidents!!!

Minnesota has a closed season for largemouth and smallmouth bass and according to MN fishing regulations "You may not intentionally fish for any species during it's closed season." As you may know I hold this law in contempt.

Anyway I had a thought the other day, that touches on this issue.

I wonder just how many bass are caught in Minnesota by accident before the bass season opens? I think the number is probably is probably well over 100,000 and could conceivably be more than a million bass getting caught accidentally in the closed season.

The question then occurred to me, when something becomes a frequent occurrence at what point does it stop becoming an "accident" and instead enter the realm of being an expectation?

I think it is not so much an accident but instead is more of an expectation that out of season bass will be caught while fishing for panfish in the Spring. For instance when I fish at the GOMH for crappies I would be shocked if some bass were not mixed in with the crappies; It is the nature of the location both species are there schooled together. Growing up fishing for crappies on Sylvia/Twin lake in Wright County it was the exact same thing. You never knew if the next bite was a bass, crappie, or sunfish. I am sure there probably are places where you do not have such intense intermingling of species such as these examples. For instance the North end of West Rush Lake in Chisago County comes to mind. For some reason the panfish load in thick on that North end, but bass not so much.

If it can be established that it is an expectation that closed season bass will be caught by people after panfish than it is an awfully thin line that separates legal fishing from the illegal fishing of intentionally fishing for a species during it's closed season. If there is an expectation of something happening, than I would say there IS an intention to see that thing happen if you are engaging in the activity that brings the expectation. When you intentionally go fishing for bass there is always the expectation that you will catch them, whether you do or not.

Is it really possible to have an expectation about catching fish, without the intent too?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Pete Peeves

This is really more of a whine fest than Rant.

Pete is a friend from the Fishers of Men Fishing Club (Twin Cities) that is in the Minnesota National Guard. Pretty much every month when he does his Guard drilling he leaves his dog Sandy with us and then when the drill is over he stays for several days, sometimes more than a week. Pete loves to fish and so do I, but not necessarily with Pete; He can be a real buzzkill at times.

Anyway one of my Pete Peeves has to do with how he gets ready for our fishing trips. Often times he has really nothing else more important to do around here than get his act together, so we can go out fishing. Often times I drag my feet and we don't get out until later in the day. Despite the fact that Pete often has all day to get ready he is almost never ready to leave when I am and I have to wait for him to finish getting his stuff together. Sometimes the wait is around half an hour but often it is longer than that, sometimes much longer when taking his boat is involved.

Sorry I just had to vent.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bassmaster Classic: The Dream That Never Was

During this past Bassmaster Classic week I heard several different fishermen from Federation anglers to Elite Series pro's express the notion that fishing in the Bassmaster Classic was a lifetime "dream come true." A couple of times I heard it said that fishing in the Bassmaster Classic is the dream of all tournament bass fisherman. I must be an odd case then, because I can't say that fishing in the Bassmaster Classic has ever been one of my aspirations.

Growing up my family had a cabin on Lake Sylvia/Twin (now East & West Sylvia) near Annandale in Wright County Minnesota, which is about an hour and a half NW of Minneapolis; The two lakes are prolific largemouth bass fisheries. I was taught to fish at a very early age by my Dad, Grandmother Maas, and my Mom. Dad was my main fishing tutor and while he liked to fish, he was not overly serious about the sport, more of a casual weekend warrior type. Dad was much more serious about cars and Ham radio. Our fishing boat was late 1960's 14 ft Alumacraft with bench seats and a 5.5 horse Johnson motor. We also had a pontoon boat we would use for fishing. However, most of my early fishing was done off of our or our neighbors docks.

Of my 3 brothers and me, I was basically the only one to be badly afflicted with the fishing bug. I have just always loved to fish and we were up at the cabin frequently in the summer, so I got to go fishing often and as I grew older my love for fishing just grew and grew. My first exposure to fishing outside my family came from TV shows by Virgil Ward, Roland Martin, and Bill Dance. My first exposure to the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society probably came from commercials while watching fishing shows, but I also distinctly remember looking at Bassmaster Magazine at the Barber Shop in Annandale when I was probably around 8 years old. I remember thinking B.A.S.S. was the coolest thing and I wanted to join, but my parents didn't pursue it for me. I don't know when I was first made aware of tournament bass fishing, but I don't think it was until I was a teenager that I ever heard about the Bassmaster Classic and the information I heard about it was pretty scant. When it came to fishing I was much more interested in learning how to catch fish than I was interested in hearing about tournaments.

It wasn't until I was out of college and in my early twenties that I gave much thought to tournament bass fishing. In the 90's Lake Minnetonka used to be the site of a prestigious bass tournament called the Don Shelby US Invitational that drew in some of the big names of B.A.S.S.. The "Shelby" had a $50,000 top prize, which was big for those days. I was just astonished by how big a sack of bass it took to do well in that tournament. Sylvia/Twin is a peanut factory where 3lb and up fish are rare, and these guys were bringing in sacks with close to or over a 4lb average per fish. Also for the first time in my life I had cable TV and so I could watch the Bassmasters TV Show and I think I joined B.A.S.S. in 1993. In 1995 I went to see my first weigh-in ever at the Bassmaster Top 100 that was held on Lake Minnetonka.

I did not fish in my first bass tournament until 2 years later in 1997 when I was 27 years old; That summer I fished as a non-boater in 2 Military Bass Angler (now ABA) at Clearwater Lake in Wright County. I got skunked in my first tournament but did manage to catch a couple of fish on my second try. Looking back at it now, I had very little clue as to what I was getting myself into when I fished those tournaments, but despite the poor results I did enjoy myself and wasn't all that discouraged. In 1998 I joined The Fishers of Men Fishing Club (Twin Cities) which is just a fishing club, not a bass fishing club. It was not until I was 31 when I started fishing bass tournaments with any seriousness.

I think because I wasn't brought up with it and didn't start tournament fishing until well into adulthood is probably why the Bassmasters Classic for me is the dream that never was.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

FLW Tour Red River- Was Canceling the Right Decision?

It has now been 24 hours plus since the cancellation of the FLW Tour Tournament at the Red River out of Shreveport Louisiana. As the dust has settled some anglers have come out and voiced disagreement with the decision to cancel.

The first instance that came to my attention was BASS Elite Series Pro Edwin Evers in the cancellation story on In BassFan Dock Talk Elite Series Pro Steve Kennedy had remarks voicing his disagreement with the decision printed. And in one more instance yesterday on Facebook Jimmy Houston changed his mind and second guessed the decision after having initially said he thought the right thing to do was respect the opinion of the anglers who said it was too dangerous to fish. (Note- It is unclear whether or not a majority of the FLW Tour anglers were in favor of the decision to cancel, but according to the rumor mill at Bass Fishing Home Page it was close to around 100 anglers that wanted a no go.) FLW Tour angler Scott Canterbury seemed to indicate he agreed with Jimmy Houston on Facebook.

Here is an excerpt of what Jimmy Houston had to say when he changed his mind:
...No one ever forced us to fish and everyone had the option to quit if it got to tough or scary for them. A group of fishermen that were too afraid of the river, after spending three days practicing on it, should not penalize the rest who were willing to compete. I've heard the rumor that some fishermen did not want to compete because they were not catching fish. I hope this was not true. As a group, the FLW fishermen are exceptionally talented and extremely good fishermen. Every angler has the right to pull out and go home if they fear the water or weather but it's not right to force their opinion on the field.

On this matter I think Jimmy Houston and the others who voiced their displeasure are 100% misguided. I have looked into the matter and it is pretty clear to me that conditions were indeed hazardous, and in case of an emergency downright dangerous. Apparently the river was under a hazard advisory and the Coast Guard had pulled it's boats from the river.

It is no secret to tournament fisherman that events have been held many times, at pretty much every level of the sport, when conditions were indeed hazardous. It is just a fact of life that if something important is on the line than some competitors will push things beyond the limits of reasonableness and safety. I have heard horror stories and have seen pictures and video of boats and anglers in distress. Some problems may indeed be chalked up to gross angler negligence and stupidity but sometimes conditions are hazardous and accidents just happen.

There is little doubt in my mind that there has been real negligence and stupidity on the part of tournament organizations that have basically forced anglers to take risks when conditions are hazardous. I for one don't think it is good enough to say, if you don't like it you can just throw your entry fee and crucial championship and Angler of the Year points away. Often times too much is at stake for anglers or tournament organizations to let discretion be the better part of valour and that is NOT good for the sport. I for one don't think the upper echelons of the sport, be they anglers or tournament organizations, set a good example when they go ahead when conditions are clearly hazardous. That said, some conditions such as storms with gusting winds and lightening are more unpredictable and thus harder to take into account in advance.

In the case of the Red River you had a combination of high fast flowing frigid water on a river known for wood and other potential hazards. Jimmy made the argument that if you practiced in it than it was clearly fishable. But the fact is there is no time limit or pressure to go 100% wide open on a practice day. Obviously lots of anglers did not care for what they had to encounter in practice and saw the potential for things to go wrong. I think the fact that plenty of anglers were out in it and thought it was not acceptable trumps the you practiced in it, you can fish it argument. Dave Lefebre thought he was on the fish to do very well, but was 100% behind putting the safety of everyone first and that speaks volumes to me.

I think it unfortunate that FLW didn't foresee the potential for this to happen and have a back up plan just in case, but obviously I believe FLW did the right thing by the anglers and the sport.

So do you agree or disagree with me? Leave a comment.

Monday, January 18, 2010

BassFan Blauket OP-ED BassFan Feedback Responce Rant.

This letter to editor/BassFan Feedback was posted on the forums and this was my responce to the LTE at

Ken Bragg of Fayetteville, WV writes:
Randy said it well and to the point, but there are a couple of points that should be made:

1. The sponsors a few years ago were small tackle companies – rod and reel manufacturers, boat manufacturers, etc. And their customer base was local fishermen and in large part Federation anglers with hopes of reaching the big leagues. Now the sponsors are mega tackle companies, food and sunglass manufacturers and drug makers and the local anglers have in large part been forgotten by most in the boating and tackle industry as well as BASS and FLW, even though our purchasing of fishing products have made it possible for the pros to do what they do.

I don't know a lot about the sponsorship history of bass fishing before the days of FLW but I think it is flat out ridiculous to claim that the common bass angler "has in large part been forgotten by most in the boating and tackle industry as well as BASS and FLW." If it were not for them marketing directly to the wants and needs of the common bass angler than they would be completely out of business. With that said I think it is just stupid for instance to blame the people at Ranger for the fact that the housing market imploded, then the economy tanked and thus the boating market landed softer than a Denny Brauer flip into the water next to some cover.

2. The attitude of boat, motor and mega tackle companies – that fishermen will pay whatever they ask for their products – has backfired and caused many to leave the sport and the younger fishermen are finding it difficult to make a living, much less afford a sport that used to be a sport for average-income anglers but now is limited to those with larger incomes...

I wonder what proof this guy has that tournament bass fishing as a sport was more popular in the past than it is now. Maybe the Federation aspect is smaller, but I think there are many more options today in terms of clubs and circuits. I'll give a big "We don't know that!" to the notion interest in tournament bass fishing is in decline. And even if it is in decline the major reasons behind the decline could be different from what he suggests. Without a scientific survey there is no way to know.

I would say with the advent and popularity of Co-Angling that tournament bass fishing has never been more accessible to average-income anglers than it is now.

...The tackle industry is as much to blame as anyone with their foreign-made tackle, rods, reels and electronics.

How do these companies expect people to buy their products when they themselves deny workers of good-paying jobs here in America. Don't they teach economics in college these days? It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that yes, it may be cheaper to make a product in China or Korea, but if there's no one who can afford to buy it, then what did you accomplish?

I don't really know what this has to do with anything but then again I never took economics in college. Apparently the boating industry gets a pass on this one yet it seems they are the one's in the worst shape right now.

The boating and fishing industry has created this monster and now they're going to have to figure it out unless the good ol' boys in Washington decide to bail them out with taxpayers dollars for their own greed and stupidity.

I think this last paragraph is stuck on stupid.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Does Bass Fishing Cost too Much?

Vagabond Persimmon Seed #21 $68.99

Yesterday on Facebook one of my friends wrote:
The economy continues to wreak havoc on the fishing industry but it seems people in the industry just don't get it. Come on $20 crankbaits, $70k boats! The average angler is being hurt the worst.

Several people clicked "Like" or commented in agreement. I ,however, was the lone dissenting voice when I wrote:

Sorry but I disagree, I think at no time in history has it been so easy to get quality equipment at a reasonable price thanks to the very large Internet inspired new and used marketplace.

I think at the outset it might be a good idea to make a distinction between an "average" bass angler and an "average" bass tournament angler because I don't think the Joe average bass fisherman is necessarily a tournament person. To be a tournament fisherman generally is going to require a financial commitment to equipment that is completely unnecessary for the basic task of having a good time by catching a few bass as a hobby.

For the guy that just wants to go out on a regular basis and bust a few bass it most certainly does not require "$20 crankbaits" and "70K boats." Any suggestion that this is the case is ridiculous. There is no doubt in my mind that right now and into the foreseeable future the average fisherman will be able to acquire quality equipment that will bring plenty of bass fishing success even on a tight budget.

I think the same pretty much holds true for Joe average bass tournament fisherman, because Joe average bass tournament fisherman is a club guy fishing for little to nothing beyond bragging rights, a trophy and maybe few hundred up to maybe a couple of thousand dollars at the high end. Bill Ludenia, who is a guy in my bass club, is a perfect example of a guy who has been a very successful bass tournament fisherman who doesn't see a big need to "keep up with the Joneses." He keeps it simple, fishes to his strengths and gets the job done.

To my comment someone replied with this:
Pretty hard to get a used BDS 4 spring craw. Used boats time is now but who has the cash, half price may as well be full price.
(Note a BDS is a Lucky Craft Crankbait that retails for $15-$17 depending on size, spring craw is a color pattern)

Well obviously is someone is dead set on getting a specific Lucky Craft crankbait, finding a good deal on it may not be possible. Heck the notion of "good deal" and Lucky Craft crankbaits is probably an oxymoron to the average Joe bass fishermen who probably gets bye just fine with a few Bandits or Bombers out of the bargain bin.

Owning a boat is nice but not a necessity. With the Internet it is easier than ever to get connected with people who have boats or find out about local opportunities to catch bass where a boat isn't even necessary. If you are in the market for a watercraft as long as you have a couple of hundred bucks you should be able to find something between Craigslist, Ebay, and local fishing forums.

Does bass fishing cost too much? No! Lack of money is not much of an excuse.