All of this reminiscing got me to thinking — though some might say I was working without tools on that task —that fishing and particularly bass fishing has changed through the years. Fishing was once about relaxing, forgetting about work and relieving the stress of trying to make a living in the rat race. However, today, fishing is work to some and a big business for others.
Back in 1933, George Perry wasn't trying to catch a world record or even win a tournament. For him, fishing was a way to put food on the table. Fishing in general, not just bass fishing, was a way a couple of guys could leave their worries behind for a while, have a little fun and bring home some nice filets for the wife and kids.
Fast-forward to 1967 — Ray Scott never dreamed that bass fishing would be as big as it is today. All he wanted to do is give the sport some creditability and a little recognition along with other sports, such as golf. Scott thought if there were some guys hitting a little white ball around and pocketing some cash, then why not do the same with bass fishing?
The economy has curtailed some of the major tournaments, but big payouts continue. Some companies in the industry are thriving and staying afloat. Yes, recreational fishing is an industry, especially when there are billions of dollars to be made.
It is difficult to fathom some guy towing a $50,000 bass boat with a $40,000 vehicle bringing home between $200,000-to-$600,000 per year without winning a tournament. Some might say the dollar is actually driving the sport of fishing.
Sure, BASS/ESPN wants more advertisers to pay more bucks for TV time, and FLW owner Irwin Jacobs doesn't mind selling a few boats along the way at the tournaments either. Sometimes, though, it might seem that BASS/ESPN is hurting the sport of fishing more than helping it.
This year at the FLW Cup (Championship), if the winner is a valid Ranger boat owner, he could walk away with $1 million in cash. In the same event, the co-angler winner could pocket up to $50,000 if he also meets the Ranger owner requirements. Do you think that marketing tactic will sell a few boats?
Don't get me wrong here — sponsors spend big bucks to get everyday Joe and Jane angler to spend big bucks on boats, motors, tackle and accessories. Magazines, TV and other media help to promote fishing to the masses and so that the cycle continues, making everyone happy — well, maybe.
It could be the changes in the economy might have some anglers headed back to the basics. A few cane poles, a can of worms and relaxing on a creek bank with a big smile.