One of the best ways to get your feet wet with tournament bass fishing is to join a local bass club. With the popularity of bass fishing, bass clubs are relatively common in most countries. Finding the right bass club for you comes down to determining what you are looking to get out of the experience.
What are you looking for?
Are you after the competition? Would you like to get more involved in youth fishing or make new friends? You should consider these things, and the good news is that some bass anglers provide all of these things. This is the heart of what bass club fishing is all about.
Some clubs are more competitive than others, and someplace more importance on family gatherings and youth fishing. Finding the right club for your goals often comes down to asking the right questions.
Many clubs have Facebook pages you can message or a website with the board members' contact information. This is a significant first step when considering finding and joining a bass club.
Suppose you are looking to test your skills against or possibly advance to a higher level of tournament fishing. In that case, it is an excellent question to ask bass clubs if they are affiliated with either the TBF (The Bass Federation) or B.A.S.S. Nation. Both of these organizations can lead to advancement in fishing to a state and then regional level. Several pro anglers, including Brandon Palaniuk and Mike Iaconelli, have taken this route to kick-start their careers.
A quick online search for these organizations in your home state will lead to a website that likely has all the contact information about clubs in your area.
Even if the club you are looking into doesn’t offer advancements to higher levels of fishing, you can still expect some competition during the year. Some clubs are more competitive than others. While many clubs emphasize learning and getting new anglers involved, others may be highly competitive and full of great anglers.
But don’t let the competition level scare you away if you are starting. One of the best ways to check out a club and see what they are all about is to attend a meeting. Most clubs have monthly meetings to review news, events, and functions and discuss past and future tournaments.
One of the best parts of joining a bass club is meeting new friends in your area who share the same passions. Lifelong friends can be made just by some friendly competition on the water. As we become older, meeting new friends is always more challenging, and sharing a love of bass fishing is a quick way to do it. No matter what type of bass club you find in your area, you can be assured that you will meet some new friends along the way.
If you have young ones interested in bass fishing, it is a good idea to check with a prospective bass club to see what they do for youth fishing. They may hold kids tournaments, support local junior and high school fishing programs, or even have their own bass junior bass club. These are things to research and ask if youth fishing is important to you.
Another good question to inquire about when looking for a bass club is determining the tournament format. Some clubs are set up in a team format, and you bring whoever you want with you or fish by yourself. This is great if you're going to fish with a family member or a fishing buddy every time.
If you do not have a boat, this can be tricky when you do not know anyone yet. If this is the case, it is a great starter question for the club to see if and how they accommodate those without boats. Some boats have their format set up to pair boaters with non-boaters for the tournaments.
Starting a New Bass Club
If you are having trouble locating a bass club or not finding what you are looking for, there is always the option to start your own. While there are many things to consider and get lined up, it can be done with a small group of friends. The power of the internet and social media is a great way to get the word out, and local tackle stores and other places of business are other avenues to spread the word.
Each state is different in handling tournament permits, which is one of the first things to research. Other required items to start your club include a website, club insurance, scales, and other weigh-in equipment, as well as a bank account for the club. Every one of those might not be needed immediately, but they will help as your club grows.
Starting a new bass club is a labor of love and will require organization and plenty of unseen work, but it can be done and might be the best way to build it how you see fit.
No matter your reasons for finding or joining a bass club, know that it is the easiest way to get involved with tournament bass fishing. There are several things to consider when finding the right club for your goals, but every bass club out there will help you meet new friends with similar passions and allow you to get out on the water and compete.