By Steve Graf
Back in the early days of B.A.S.S. tournaments, professional anglers had to rely on skills, practice, and instincts to win an event. Boy how times have changed!!!! Today’s anglers have so much more information at the touch of a button. The internet, as well as today’s fish-finder units and forward-facing sonars, have revolutionized tournament fishing and taken things to a whole other level. Therefore, today’s young anglers have a distinct advantage on the learning curve and their ability to dissect a lake quickly without even wetting a hook. What used to take years, and a lot of fishing trips by the older generation in order to figure out a particular body of water, is now just a few clicks of a mouse on a computer. Also, learning to read today’s forward-facing sonars has changed the game forever and turned fishing into catching.
But there are a couple of items today’s young anglers are struggling with. These two issues are the result of the influx of so many young anglers into the tournament and bass fishing world…. etiquette and safety! The problem is, no one is teaching these young anglers or their boat captains how to navigate a tournament on our lakes and rivers. I’m not just talking about the running of their big motor, but the trolling motor as well. Incidents and accidents are occurring more and more as our waterways become overcrowded. The best analogy I can come up with is Little League. Little League or Dixie Youth baseball programs all across the country are looking for volunteers who can manage young boys and teach them how to play the game. I truly appreciate people who volunteer to coach these kids, but many have no idea of how to teach the game. They don’t know or possess the skills needed to make kids better baseball players, but their intentions are good. The same is true with SOME of the boat captains who are running the boats for these young high school anglers. Their intentions are good, but they don’t possess the skills necessary to teach today’s young anglers the skills they need.
So how do we correct this issue? I feel that it’s up to us anglers who fish at a high level to share our knowledge any way possible. Every time I’m on the water and see an opportunity to educate a boat captain or a high school angler, I do so not by yelling and chewing them out, but by simply talking to them in a way I know they won’t be intimidated. Sometimes we talk about either the unwritten rules of tournament fishing or fishing etiquette, along with boat navigation and how to run the trolling motor. I’ve also had the opportunity to speak at several high school bass fishing banquets and will talk about these issues as well. If we as skilled anglers don’t take the responsibility to share our knowledge, then we have failed as anglers to educate the next generation.
Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!
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