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OCdockskipper

An Open Letter to B.A.S.S. Regarding the Classic

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After attending Day 1 of the 2017 Bassmaster Classic, I want to congratulate B.A.S.S. on pulling off a huge success.  Even with 2 days of competition left to go, it is obvious that B.A.S.S. was able to bring professional bass fishing to the bright lights of a major city in a manner never seen before.  With that said, I humbly suggest future events go in a different direction.

 

We have all seen those movies whose plot centers around an outsider kid trying to get in with the cool crowd.  That is the residual feeling I get after watching the major tournament of our sport walk into Houston.  We have every right to be there and are as compelling as any other sport that city has seen, but at the end of the day, we don't fit.  Whether it be trucks hauling boats in downtown traffic or watching garages charge $15 parking for an event with no admission fee, the nuances & traditions of our sport do not mesh well with the lifestyle of an urban environment.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying B.A.S.S. can't do this, they are proving they can.  From the product they deliver to the talent on the water and announcing the events, these folks can hold their own on this or any stage.  I just don't believe that in the long run, it is in their best interest to do so.

 

There is a reason that big cities tend to lean one way politically and suburban & rural areas the other, it comes down to the interests, values and priorities of the people who inhabit those areas.  I am not making a value judgement of either, just suggesting that the two don't mix well.  Both will tolerate the other as long as they are kept at an arm's distance, kind of "distance makes good neighbors" policy.

 

While in line for the weigh-in yesterday, security for Minute Maid park came through announcing the limitations on what can be brought in & how their security screening process works.  Talk about not knowing your audience!!  I guarantee that crowd of people was the safest spot to be in the entire city.  The weigh-in started an hour later than originally scheduled, and what was the crowds reaction?  Did they boo, start chanting or storm the field?  No, we just waited & talked among ourselves.  What a concept!!  I used to share season tickets to the ANAHEIM Angels (sorry Artie, they aren't L.A.) and barely ever had a 5 minute conversation with any of those sitting around me.  Yesterday, I chatted for 45 minutes with a man sitting to my right who turned out to be a lure engineer for a major bait company.  Guess what, he doesn't live in Houston, New York or L.A.

 

B.A.S.S., you proved your point, you are in the big leagues.  As a member of your organization on & off for the past 40 years, I believe your future, the way you grow & reach people, is not by taking yourself to the big cities inhabited by a majority of people who would sneer at Hank Cherry for mentioning his faith & tearing up.  Instead, stay where you are most welcome and use technology to bring people around the country to you.  That too is a big hurdle, but I believe you have proved over & over again that your organization has great "hops".

 

Once again, congratulation on the success of the Classic, you have once more outdone yourself.

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It's a logistical thing and nothing more or less.  They need the facilities to support the expo and all the industry people and fans coming in.  They also need it to be relatively easy to get to in terms of travel, which means it will have to be somewhat close to decent sized airport.

 

As an aside, do you not think there are a huge number of bass-heads in Houston and it's suburbs?  I think it's nice when they get out of the traditional comfort zone...An MLB stadium is a pretty cool place to weigh in.  

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The reason we will never have another B.A.S.S. Major tournament in California is because the general population of anglers don't support bass fishing, they do in Texas and that is why it works...angler support.

Tom

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There are some cities that have a huge population of anglers. NYC comes to mind. 

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OC, excellent editorial, however it has a small flaw in my opinion.

 

The flaw: Where can BASS have the event that can house and feed the fans attending the Classic if not in a "city atmosphere?"

 

The last Classic I attended in 2015 I was lucky to have my wife drop me off as she went shopping and then pick me up that evening.  No parking problems for me but the line to get into the parking area was long and slow moving.

 

Unless BASS can find a location close to a satisfactory body of water that has enough motel/hotel rooms, restaurants, sights to see and visit, an airport, a large area for the Classic's showcase, busses to take and bring back the participants to and from the blast off and weigh-in, parking facilities for cars, trucks, RV's and charter busses, have a safe environment, areas for the media to set up, enough law enforcement in the area to handle traffic and have a presence at the show, and an Interstate highway system to handle the traffic, we are stuck with a "big city" atmosphere. And having the show in an area where the body of water is in close proximity to the show in lieu of having them 20 to 30 or more miles apart is a challenge for planning future Classics.

 

With that being said, how about everyone give us a list of locations that are not major cities that can meet the BASS requirements for the Classic.  Branson? Beaver Lake?  Eufaula?  Toledo Bend?  Buggs Island?  Lake Mead? Lake Kissimmee?  Bull Shoals?  Guntersville?  Lake Wylie?

 

We are heading back to Greensville, South Carolina for the 2018 Classic. That is the last Classic I attended and it was worth the drive from Richmond. I may go again. Greensville is a small city with great people and a facility that can handle the crowd. Will start dropping the "seeds of heading to the Classic" on my wife, now, for next year's event.

 

Believe me guys and gals, the Classic's show facilities with the vendors, pros, manufacturers (I met Big O from Rage Tail. Fantastic guy and the fun guys from Pure Fishing), give aways, and beautiful setups, met Glenn and his Lucky Tackle Box guys (which was a trip in itself), you cannot parallel the Classic with any other fishing event. Although I have never been to ICast and I can't make a valid comparison of the two events, I strongly suggest everyone make at least one Classic. You will not regret the time or expenses involved and you will make new friends and have the opportunity to see the newest and latest gear plus purchasing some of the items at a fantastic price.

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5 hours ago, Sam said:

...Where can BASS have the event that can house and feed the fans attending the Classic if not in a "city atmosphere?"...

 

That would be the challenge.  Having lived in suburbia my entire life, I am not really familiar with the rural areas throughout the country as many of you are.  I have been to Greenville and agree with your assessment of its people and the ability to handle a Classic.  Other than that, I am pretty ignorant of the possibilities.

 

At the risk of sounding corporate, I believe this is one of those situations where it is important to think outside the box.  Many rural areas, especially in Texas, are known to be meccas for high school or college football.  Some of those stadiums hold pretty large crowds & could be potential weigh in sites.  That is the way I believe BASS should think, what is out there in parts of the country that embrace the same culture we do and how can they make a classic work there.

 

As an aside, I live in the same county as Brent Ehler (Orange County).  Even though our population is over 3 million people, we have one local paper, the Orange County Register.  I went through the Saturday and Sunday sports & local sections of the paper and there was not a single mention of a local citizen (Ehler) leading the Classic.  Even if he wins it, I doubt there would be an article.  Bass fishing and the Classic is just not on the radar of the media or a majority of the population here.  I am considering contacting the paper and offering to try to get an interview with Brent if he indeed does pull of the win.

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I appreciate the original post, but I see some major flaws in it's logic.  

 

Infrastructure has already been addressed. Simply, major cities have the infrastructure required for large events and in most cases rural America absolutely does not.   This is necessary now, and will be even more necessary as the sport grows.  

 

Second, the idea that security is present makes it like any other event, anywhere else in the country.  It isn't a silly urban culture thing, nor is $15 parking.  If $15 parking is the cost of your attending an event for a day, that's extremely cheap.  I know of almost nothing you can do to stay entertained for less than $15 a day.  

 

As as for your assertion that anglers don't live in major cities... I grew up kinda in the sticks, but I've been in Philly for 12 years, and one of the most exciting northeast BASS tournaments in years was run here on the Delaware.  Between fresh and saltwater, there's a massive angling community here in the city, and throughout the surrounding counties, and NYC/Long Island is the same way.  DC/Baltimore/Annapolis? They're the unofficial striped bass capital.  Miami? New Orleans? Chicago? Detroit?  All the same. 

 

The most ridiculous (to me, at least) point had to do with city people and country people not being able to get along to the point where it's divisive.  Have you ever been to see any kind of either professional, or D1 college sports?  The thing about sports is that they offer an opportunity to bring people together.  People out in the sticks tend to watch football the same way folks in any city do.  At a game, no one cares what kind of car someone drives, what they do for work, their stance on abortion, or their thoughts on the president's budget proposal.  They care about the same thing - enjoying the event/cheering their team and making the most out of the opportunity to escape work, stress, etc.  If you have beliefs that interfere with your ability to do this, I'm sorry, but I feel like you're missing out on something important. 

 

 

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Turkey Sandwich, thanks for your response.  I'll briefly touch upon a few of the things you mentioned.

 

The infrastructure in rural areas is indeed the challenge.  However, I believe that to be a challenge better addressed than the challenge of trying to change an urban culture to fit a sport that is definitely rural.

 

The security mention was just a quick way to point out the cultural differences.  At the Elite event at Havasu, it was refreshing to see an event where a large number of people gathered and there was no thought of security screening.  No one attends an Elite event with the thought of making trouble.  The same with the parking, it wasn't the amount, rather the mindset of the organization involved in the event.

 

I don't believe I ever wrote that anglers don't live in major cities.  What I suggest doesn't live in major cities is the culture that envelopes largemouth bass fishing, both recreationally & professionally.  Having lived outside of that culture my entire life, I really enjoy being immersed in it whenever possible.

 

Lastly, while bass fisherman who live in urban & rural areas do indeed get along, it is the culture within bass fishing that I keep speaking of that binds them despite their different locales.  Where the divisiveness comes in is the general population of those urban areas, the huge portion of the population who view rural areas as "fly over country".  Why bring "our" event to their city in order to prove we are in the "big leagues" when many folks there really find our culture not just outdated but abhorrent?

 

I don't necessarily expect you to agree with me, but I at least wanted to explain myself a little better,

 

 

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Sounds like you enjoyed the event and nothing wrong expressing your thoughts.

Wish Brent could have handled being in the lead, it's easier to have no pressure and swing for the fences...

The reason Califorina's top tournament bass anglers move to the heartland is to compete where B.A.S.S. is supported by the fan base and it's not here.

Being a charter B.A.S.S. Life member I have written a few letters to the organization over the years, input is important, replies are few.

Tom

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16 minutes ago, WRB said:

...Being a charter B.A.S.S. Life member I have written a few letters to the organization over the years, input is important, replies are few.

 

I originally joined B.A.S.S. in 1976 and have been a member on & off over the past 40 years.  I should have gone your route & chosen a lifetime membership back when I was 13 years old.  The lure engineer for Pradco that I met on Friday also is a charter Life member, #74 if I remember what he told me correctly.  You & he could probably have some great conversations...

 

I wonder if the lack of replies has to do with locale, that since their target market is not on the West Coast, they pay less attention to the input?  

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B.A.S.S. under Ray Scott's guidance grew by including everyone into the organization without bias, he wanted members. The Lake Mead Classic was the 1 and only event held in the west for decades.

B.A.S.S. tried open events at Shasta and Columbia river, couple of events at Clear lake and the Delta, great fishing with very small community support. It's our fault, west coast bass anglers don't support B.A.S.S.

Have no idea what my member number is? Dates back to '68.

Tom

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OP makes some valid points. BASS also needs to be able to handle the quantity of people. I see both points. I'll just throw this out there. When I was in my 20's i competed heavily in NFAA. (Archery). My 1st Nationals was held in Darington, WA. A little town in the Cascade mountains. One hotel w/ 22 rooms! That's it. The people of the town rallied around the sport and opened their homes, backyards etc. People were squatted down every where. The town folk were nice, friendly and very welcoming. They've held multiple championship. I understand BASS isn't NFAA and those were different times but It just goes to show what can happen if a community rallies around a sport. Bass needs to think outside the box a little. Lots of great fisheries out there.

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On 26/03/2017 at 5:22 PM, OCdockskipper said:

Turkey Sandwich, thanks for your response.  I'll briefly touch upon a few of the things you mentioned.

 

The infrastructure in rural areas is indeed the challenge.  However, I believe that to be a challenge better addressed than the challenge of trying to change an urban culture to fit a sport that is definitely rural.

 

The security mention was just a quick way to point out the cultural differences.  At the Elite event at Havasu, it was refreshing to see an event where a large number of people gathered and there was no thought of security screening.  No one attends an Elite event with the thought of making trouble.  The same with the parking, it wasn't the amount, rather the mindset of the organization involved in the event.

 

I don't believe I ever wrote that anglers don't live in major cities.  What I suggest doesn't live in major cities is the culture that envelopes largemouth bass fishing, both recreationally & professionally.  Having lived outside of that culture my entire life, I really enjoy being immersed in it whenever possible.

 

Lastly, while bass fisherman who live in urban & rural areas do indeed get along, it is the culture within bass fishing that I keep speaking of that binds them despite their different locales.  Where the divisiveness comes in is the general population of those urban areas, the huge portion of the population who view rural areas as "fly over country".  Why bring "our" event to their city in order to prove we are in the "big leagues" when many folks there really find our culture not just outdated but abhorrent?

 

I don't necessarily expect you to agree with me, but I at least wanted to explain myself a little better,

 

 

Thank you for the response, and I appreciate that it's well written. (Sometimes the combo of autocorrect and this forum, for whatever reason, turn the most eloquent posts into nonsense.  I genuinely appreciate the response.) Still, I think bridging that gap and appealing to larger numbers of anglers is a huge part of expanding the sport and the financial opportunities it provides.  If you're going to write off city folk, the reciprocal is city folk writing you off as well.  We can both agree, I think, that that does nothing to better the sport, outdoors, conservation, politics, or culture in general.  

 

One of the things that held BASS back for decades was a narrow, short sighted perspective that appealing to urban populations, and especially the north was sacrilege.  Going back to that will do nothing to help the sport and will only stagnate growth.  Tradition has value, but member, a lot of us living in cities cut our teeth in creeks and farm ponds that don't even have names. 

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My wife and I attended the Classic for a 3rd straight year now. The venues in Houston were our least favorite of the three. Security at MinuteMaid was a major issue. There was a good deal of inconsistency with screening. We were in the life members, sponsors line etc etc and screening was not a harsh as general public lines. In one instance I had seen folks who came from the expo that were not allowed to bring in anything that contained hooks. For those parked close by it was no big deal, but those like my wife and I who were 8-10 blocks away it was not so handy.

 

We arrived midday on Friday and spent only a little while at the expo before heading to the weigh-in. Having not settled into our hotel I was still carrying my concealed weapon. I am a peace officer here in Kentucky, working as a deputy sheriff and I am covered by the Federal Law Enforcement Safety Act that allows for carry throughout the United States. I carry a gun every day for work and honestly I do not carry it a lot when I am not working, so I am not one of those who is obsessed with carrying every single place that I go, but on this day I had it. Security treated me pretty darn bad through the whole process. I stepped to the side and asked for to speak with a supervisor, so that I could explain my situation. It was embarrassing when the supervisor made a scene, and I finally just had to ask to speak with a Houston PD officer. The PD officer was  a transplant from the north to Houston, but he was exceptional. I showed him my law enforcement credentials and had me come on through the screening area. The supervisor for the security company still insisted on screening my bag and my wife's bags. She also wanted to know why I was going to be allowed to carry my pocket knife since that too was considered contraband. I had no objections with them searching, but the officer handled that issue and told her it wasn't happening and to drop the attitude. Days  2 and 3 I made sure to leave the gun in the room. Tulsa and Greenville had no such issues and the folks were awesome....just my experience.        

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 I used to fish the BASS Invitationals out west and enjoyed them.  Coming from the Oregon area where bass are trash due to the fact it's a major trout, salmon, steelhead state.  From what I heard back then Portland didn't even care about bringing in tourneys...they did not care about the money...they had enough from other areas!  I personally don't seeing it getting any better out there...while I do love living out east where there seems to be a more "get along" with everyone when it comes to fishing.  

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I live in a large city. Pop @4 million, including the surrounding communities. I've attending many events where parking was $20, $30, and even $40 - in addition to entry fees!  For $15, you got off cheap.  Just saying.

 

Most of those events "feature" inconsistent screening processes. It appears the training the screeners receive is brief and not thorough, leaving much open to interpretation to the screeners. It's frustrating, especially for outdoor shows due to hooks, tools, and other items that might be interpreted as "weapons" by screeners.  Sadly, it's the norm - even for venues in "smaller towns", but not an issue B.A.S.S. can solve.  Just saying.

 

I live in a large city, and never have I heard anyone "talking down" to people living "in the country".  Rather, many would love to live in the country and envy those who do.  Just saying.

 

I applaud B.A.S.S. for bringing this event to a major city. It not only raises visibility of a sport that many may not know about, but it also grants access to this event to many inner-city youths who often do not get the outdoor opportunities many "country folk" take for granted.  If hosting this event in a big city influences even a small number of youths to steer off a bad path, then it's a huge accomplishment.  Just saying.

 

Lastly, to call fishing "our sport", assuming "city people" don't belong, and try to create an "us vs. them" mentality only serves to build walls, create divides, and weakens what little voice outdoor sports enthusiasts have against legislature designed to limit access to the outdoor sports we all love.  We're all in this together folks.  Embrace what we have, rather than making mountains out of molehills.

 

Just saying.

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I lived in Houston, TX for about 8 yrs. Left to retire in a small southern state. Most fishermen there do mostly saltwater fishing but don't think there are not a large number who head to Lakes Conroe & Houston to name a few to bass fish. For those without high-powered bass boats don't think they lack great opportunities to land some nice bass in small boats or on foot. There are even clubs for bassers who fish only from the bank. The city is full of bayous and watersheds holding bass in every imaginable water environment available. From suburbs to downtown business parks. Fishing creeks & bayous is done by many young anglers on foot in creeks & bayous & in the country. Urban settings do not take a second seat to them. Plenty of places downtown. Bass in 5 ft. width creeks and no more than 5ft. deep is common. Been there done that.

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I think part of the issue with this debate is some have made it an urban vs. rural one. When it comes to hosting a classic, of course you need a place that has the facilities and travel convenience to handle the event, which would necessarily be a place that qualifies as a "rural" environment. But there is a big difference between say, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Houston, Texas. I think it is fair to question whether it worked out in the end to have the Classic in one of the largest cities in the country. Apparently local coverage of the event was next to non-existent. Traffic, particularly on Day 1, was problematic, as expected. The event was competing with many other events in the city and attendance was disappointing.  

 

So in the end, the event did nothing to really raise the profile of the sport. Apparently it just made it that much more inconvenient for everyone involved. It seems that medium-sized cities, that have the necessary infrastructure, but also appreciate the tournament being there a great deal, are the best compromise. I'm not saying BASS made a mistake, and I'm not saying they shouldn't gamble on some other different kinds of sites in the future. I heard someone mention a Lake Mead/Las Vegas Classic. There's a cool idea (that will never happen).

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Nobody complained when it was in New Orleans....except the anglers that made the 2 1/2hr boat ride (one way) all the way to Venice and back.  But that wasn't a "city" thing.

 

Same thing with Birmingham (long trips to Lay lake and Guntersville). Another "big city", but no complaints.

 

No, I think the "real" issue is that some folks just want it near their home so they can attend.  That makes the most sense to me.

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On 4/8/2017 at 7:56 AM, Glenn said:

...Just saying...

...Just saying...

...I live in a large city, and never have I heard anyone "talking down" to people living "in the country"...Just saying...

...Just saying...

...Lastly, to call fishing "our sport", assuming "city people" don't belong, and try to create an "us vs. them" mentality only serves to build walls, create divides, and weakens what little voice outdoor sports enthusiasts have against legislature designed to limit access to the outdoor sports we all love...

Just saying...

 

New Orleans....except the anglers that made the 2 1/2hr boat ride (one way) all the way to Venice and back.  But that wasn't a "city" thing.

 

Same thing with Birmingham (long trips to Lay lake and Guntersville). Another "big city", but no complaints.

 

Sorry for the delayed response, I never noticed the post prior to today.  I'm not sure why you wrote "Just saying" so many times, it came across as kind of snarky.  I will assume it was not meant that way.  In any case, let me address a few of your points that I quoted.

 

Glenn, I am not sure where you live, but if you watch any media from most of the the major cities in America, you definitely see a sneer from them towards the lesser densely populated areas of the U.S.  It shows up in TV & movies, on the news and online.  That is why the term "Fly-over country" originated, the concept that those on the major cities of the coasts summarily dismiss those in the middle of the country as not being as worthwhile as themselves.  The culture of these cities is the antithesis of the culture found in most suburbs & less densely populated areas.  I am not promoting this and it may not exist where you live, but it is a well known fact.

 

Legislation limiting access to outdoor access is already part of the culture of densely populated areas.  Tom (WRB) can testify to the damage that the California Coastal Commission has wreaked on California outdoorsmen in the name of environmentalism.  I am not creating this wall, this division, it already exists and is initiated & promoted as part of the culture of those in densely populated areas.  To believe that "we can just all get along" is a bit Pollyanna-ish and has led to bureaucracies like this running over the outdoor users.

 

Lastly, I believe your definition of a big city is off.  Houston has a population of over 2.25 million, while New Orleans is 385 thousand and Birmingham is 215 thousand.  Where I live here in Orange County, we have 3 cities (Anaheim, Santa Ana & Irvine) all with larger & more dense populations than Birmingham and none of them would be considered a big city.  Anaheim, the home of Disneyland, has about the same population as New Orleans in an area 1/7th the size (50 sq miles compared to 350 sq miles) and again, it would not be considered a big city.  

 

What it comes down to in my opinion is we should go to the places that want us, that rejoice in our arrival and are happy that we are there.  If that makes us the big fish in a small pond, so be it - as Mel Brooks said "It's good to be the king"

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Everyone has offered some interesting feedback. Houston was great as far as I'm concerned. Texas has more B.A.S.S. members than any other state, Houston area bass anglers are also the most numerous in Texas.

 

one potential reason the overall attendance wasn't higher is there are so many bass tournaments happening in Texas every weekend, many of my friends were fishing rather than attending to watch someone else fish.

 

i only attended the expo part. We got a reasonable rate on a room walking distance from the downtown venues so most of the logistics weren't an issue for us. Plus, parking was free with the room. As usual the tackle/equipment sales were good. We bought some nice stuff at good prices. 

 

I hope it comes back to Texas soon.

 

 

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