Get Involved in the SportGet Involved in the Sport Discover how a younger angler can self-sufficiently build his way up in the sport of bass fishing, from a different perspective.
By Ian Steller
There exist articles about every single aspect of bass fishing. In every corner of the sport, there is something out there that can address what you need help with. Everything from fishing a drop shot, to using your electronics, to catching fish on the most obscene lures. I believe that this is an aspect of the sport that is alive and well, and is a great resource that should be exploited by anyone who seeks to improve his or her angling ability.
But there still lacks something; and that is the ushering of a strong and knowledgeable generation of new anglers that will guide and lead our sport into a promising direction. I’m talking about fishermen who fall into that demographic of eighteen or younger, most of whom can’t drive, a lot of whom don’t have a bass boat, and even more of whom look up to the icons of the sport today. I’m one of them, among a group that is, contrary to what many may think, growing each year. When I hear the tip, “Get on the water as much as possible,” I couldn’t be in more agreement, but for many, that’s impossible to do alone. This article will focus on laying a general guideline as to how a younger angler can self-sufficiently build his way up in the sport, from a different perspective.
Join a Local Juniors Club/High School Tournament
This is an awesome way to get out, especially for those who have no way of getting out on the big water otherwise. The benefits of Juniors competition are endless. First of all, you make connections with other fishermen your age, and these connections enable you to actually talk and go fishing with someone who you can relate to. It’s great to go fishing with grandpa, but it’s nice to go with guys your age too. Now, the importance of fishing with older, more experienced fishermen is critical as well, and the Juniors Club makes it a great way to go on other fishermen’s boats for a day, ask questions, observe their subtle method, and leave the water with a little more information to apply towards the next tournament.
I have found that what you learn from fellow fisherman, whether they are your age or they are your boat captains, never ends. There is no end of the tunnel, which is the great thing about it. For most every State Bass Federation, Junior programs are relatively inexpensive, and teach etiquette skills as well. Almost every facet of becoming a better angler can be picked up by fishing the Juniors. For some junior anglers, it is just a nice way to go fishing, and for others, it is an addicting and competitive passion. Either way, its gets you hooked, and it enables you to get involved in your local fishing community at a fairly low cost.
Get a Job
Yeah, that sort of title seems a bit intimidating at first, but when explained, this is one of the best things a prospective club or federation angler can do. Getting a job, even a part time one, with any sort of company involved in the fishing industry is good for both the employer and the employee. Tackle retailers offer a great and realistic opportunity so we’ll focus on those, but really, if you come across other opportunities that are off the wall, see if you can make it happen.
It is important to note, however, that there is a general age cutoff when it comes to this kind of thing, which is usually around the fifteen-year mark. Even at fifteen, there are still some limitations that stick around until sixteen years of age. Nevertheless, getting a job at a tackle retailer has its lion’s share of benefits. Here are just a few:
- It opens doors with storeowners, local and regional representatives from various tackle companies, and local fishermen. These initial connections could pay off further down the road, and you never know if one day you get in touch with a company you familiarized yourself with a few years back, and that first step you made turns out to pay dividends.
- You acquire skills on all fronts of being a professional, principled employee. The interesting thing about the retail tackle industry is that it combines fishing skill and knowledge with professionalism and work ethic. You can know this, that, and the other, and be the best stick out there, but if you are not conveying a good image to the customer, things won’t work out well.
- You’re in your element. Nothing replaces actually being on the water, but the next best thing is being in a place that remotely resembles it. Plus, much of the time, you receive some sort of employee discount, which means… you know, more tackle.
Two of the most important pieces of information that I have picked up are a) attention to detail, and b) initiative. Teenagers are not always accustomed to exercising these two things in a real world environment. What I mean by that is any sort of job requires you to be alert and focused on not only doing the job, but also doing it well. And these values carry over into other aspects of your life, even fishing.
So, you not only learn how to spool reels, replace guides, etc., but also obtain good marketing tactics, work mindsets, and life lessons that can make you a better angler, salesman, and person in general.
In order to make your name in the fishing industry, you have to master your local area first. There are no leaps involved in the process of growing as a fisherman. And to help with this process, going fishing with experienced anglers is the best way to improve from a skills standpoint. Not only are you improving your mechanics by getting on the water, but also you get to pay attention to the subtle technique that they have mastered over years of trial and error. Again, this ties to attention to detail.
But, I know what some of you may be thinking, “How can I get one of these guys to want go fishing with me?” First, if you fish a Juniors club or join a standard bass club, you will be able to know that the person you are fishing with is responsible and safe. Second, after having a list of two or three guys you would like to fish with, seventy-five percent of the work is done. You just need to contact them, and more often than not, they will be okay having someone on the back deck while out on the lake.
A lot of the time, you will actually develop a friendship with whomever you ask to go fishing, and one fishing trip may turn into a whole summer of fishing and learning as you go. You cannot beat that. Some days, the guy on the front deck will put on a clinic, and others, you may teach him a thing or two. I think there is a sense of fulfillment from both the mentor and the younger angler. It goes both ways, and that is the beauty of it; the sport is passed from one generation to the next.
In summary, I hope I have offered three ways to stepping your fishing game up a notch as an up-and-comer. Being one myself, not all of us can drive and not all of us own boats, but there are ways to work around this. Joining a Juniors club has its benefits, and once sixteen years or older, joining an adult level bass club is great. Second off, getting your teeth cut in the retail and sales industry is a tool that could be helpful in the future. Third, by reaching out to the fishing community in your area, perhaps getting out fishing won’t be as hard as it seems.
And one last thing; having respect for more experienced fishermen is a big deal in general, but as a person who is just getting their feet wet in this sport, it is imperative. Having confidence is great, in fact, it is necessary in order succeed, but too much of it may mask the need to show respect for others. All the while, we should realize that most of us fish because it’s all about having fun and getting better, insuring that years from now, the sport will continue to grow and thrive.
Grow your fishing skills and improve your angling effectiveness.
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