Hey, what if we had a
tournament for Bass Fishing and the winner won some money or
That's how it started, some guy hanging out with his friends made
that offhand comment and was summarily laughed at. Well, nobody's
laughing now. Fishing tournaments have become a multi-million dollar
business. All of which should have been predictable. You've got a
favorite pastime in fishing (fun) added an element of competition to
it (testosterone) then Throw money in to the mix (Greed). What could
be more American than that?
My first foray into tournament fishing started shortly after we
started Hunt Sleep Fish. We made a deal to follow a tour through the
season. Somehow, it evolved into me fishing in the tournament. Me
Fish the tournament? Ok sure. After all, I'm a pretty good
fisherman, why couldn't I cash a check or two?
As the producer of HSF, my initial thought process was the logistics
of following a Bass Tournament, and all the technical headaches that
were sure to follow. From a Fishing aspect, It never occurred to me
that I didn't have a bass boat, or had never set foot on any of
these enormous lakes. All this seemed trivial of course compared to
the fact that I was about to become a professional fisherman.
After I found a willing partner (with a boat), it was soon time for
our first tournament. When we pulled up to the ramp on the morning
of the tournament, the first impression I had was "I can't afford
this hobby"! Experience should have told me to turn around, and
leave unnoticed, then decide on an excuse later. Why can't guys like
me thoroughly think this stuff through? There might have been a few
people there independently wealthy, but most were guys just like me.
Guys with mortgages, credit card debt, and kids who need pretty much
everything sold at Wal-Mart. Yet, something possessed them to buy a
$30,000.00 Truck, a 30,000.00 boat and endless amounts of
"necessary" gear. Not to mention gas, rooms, entry fees, and food,
multiplied by every stop on the Tournament. Run Gary Run and don't
But I didn't. Against all better judgment I didn't. And I'm actually
glad I didn't.
In a casual conversation with another fisherman, months after that
fateful day, he said to me something I thought was profound. He said
that tournament fishing was a way for guys our age to still compete
at something. When my football days ended in high school, it never
occurred to me at the time that they were over forever. All those
competitive juices would soon be consumed by marriage, kids, life,
etc. And while testosterone still shows itself during rush hour
traffic, or watching France's ambassador to the UN, we still need a
teammate to high five with every once in a while.
Looking back on the past two years, now as a "veteran" of the sport,
I know at least a few things for sure:
1. I've spent a lot more than I've won
2. I'm not good enough to be a professional
3. I can't wait for my next tournament
Hunt Sleep Fish