It’s hard to believe that the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series season has come and gone.
It seems like just yesterday that the professional fishing world was turned upside down with different ideas and so much change. There are many ways to look at change, but I have always tried to be optimistic and accept the fact that nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable and with those changes come new opportunities.
In the fall of 2018, many of the industry’s professional anglers were forced to make a choice as to the tournament trail and format that they would compete on in 2019. For many, they saw it as an opportunity to attempt to take the sport in a different direction, and for others it was a gut wrenching struggle with deciding what was best for their careers and families.
Make no mistake that while professional anglers are athletes that compete in a sport, all of us are independent contractors. We are not only competitors, but businessmen, salesmen, seminar speakers, promoters and lots of other roles. Much like everyone else in life, they have employers that they are accountable to – their sponsors.
In today’s game, professional anglers are expected to do way more than our counterparts were 20 years ago. Being a tournament angler in the 21st century requires us to be positioned where not only do we catch fish, but that we do it where they have the best possible media platforms.
With those criteria in mind, it was an easy decision for me. The very best platforms of any tournament organization in business today is B.A.S.S. Whether it’s The Bassmaster Elite Series on ESPN2 and Pursuit, print media with Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times, social media platforms, live internet feeds on Bassmaster.com, the pioneering conservation efforts, and the mere fact that our sport even exists as it does today; B.A.S.S. is it.
This is the same organization that is leading the way and driving advancements in the sport as it was 50 years ago. Those very things along with the most important thing — you the fans and members of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society — are why I stayed at B.A.S.S.
There are more changes still to come and some tough choices still to be made. There are many professional anglers going into 2020 season that are facing the same tough decisions in the upcoming weeks as to where they will fish next year.
The rumor mills are lit up with people speculating about anglers who departed B.A.S.S. and left for other professional trails that aren’t happy. There are a lot of thoughts about some who would love to come back to B.A.S.S., but will they?
Only time will tell if any will. Will they be willing to go back to the Bassmaster Opens and qualify? How many former FLW Tour anglers will continue with the merger that’s taken place in that league, or will they make a change? It will be a while before we know if any established names from other tours will register for the 2020 Opens. Who really knows? But it’s going to be fun to watch and see how it all turns out.
For me, I know what I’ll be doing. I’ll be preparing for another great season and the 50th Bassmaster Classic in my home state of Alabama. The Classic is in a city 30 minutes from my house, on a body of water I’ve spent some time on — Lake Guntersville.
It’s almost time to catch some Big Bass, bring them to the sport’s Biggest Stage, and chase the Biggest Dreams.