The Good, the Bad, and Getting Ugly

By Bruce Callis

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The bass fishing competition has changed so much in the last few years. With the exciting new television show, Major League Fishing, people have gotten to experience competitive bass fishing at a different level. And as the Professional leagues came to a close, the industry again shook, as a new league was announced that would start competing against the established BASS and FLW leagues. But with the announcement came turmoil. Turmoil among anglers and turmoil among fans.

The new MLF Bass Pro Tour was the brain child of Boyd Duckett and Gary Klein, but there are other anglers who have a finical investment in the league. They would send out 80 invitations to existing professional anglers from both BASS and FLW. There was no mention of how the first 80 anglers were selected, nor were the 80 named. We knew that once the 80 had made their decision, further invitations would be handed out. And this started the talk on social media. Who would the first 80 be, how were they selected, and it started to get ugly right away. People started to decide which league would be best, and many had decided that the new league would be the best simply because of who may be fishing it.

And then we sat and waited for the announcement of who would be switching, who declined the offer, and who did not get an invite. Fans argued about it. Then slowly anglers started to make their announcement on their chosen social media sites. Some stated that they were going to go to MLF BPT in 2019, some made announcements that they were staying put in 2019, and some complained about not being invited. Others drug out the decision until the last moment. But finally, the field was set.

Big names within both tours changed, and the fans argued that the other leagues would fold because of their angler losses. But still, everyone was basing these decisions not on facts, but assumptions of how the new league would be run. We had not been told how the tournaments would be run or how we the fan would be involved in the events. All we knew was that the promise of big rewards fueled the decisions or was it something more.

After Mike Iaconelli had all the leagues on his IKE Live Show, some questions were answered, but as a fan of bass fishing I was left scratching my head. The answers seemed scripted to entice a favorable response from the fans, but so many questions still remained unanswered or the answer was fuzzy. But the fans that follow bass fishing are still talking and wondering.

The high road is to say that we should support all three professional tours. But in reality, that is not what is happening. Fans are picking. Picking the new league based on what the television show offers. Others are dismissing it because of the same reason and staying with the established leagues. Who wants to watch a dinkfest, you are going to see all the action from every angler for free, you are going to have to pay to watch everything, the best anglers in the world are now all in one league, to why weren’t the top 80 anglers in the world not the first to be invited. It is enough to turn fans off to bass fishing all together.

The bass fishing industry can support 3 leagues. Until those big names proved themselves, they were the young guns. Right now, 80 new young guns will be entering 2019 with the dreams that the departing 80 held. The 2019 year hasn’t started, but until it does, let’s not be ugly. If MLF BPT is to survive, it has to prove itself from the start. We can and should continue to support the anglers who make a living doing what we love. We can and should continue to support the established leagues while supporting the new league. Only time will tell. Don’t be ugly!

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