(Editor's note: FLW Tour competitor Jay Kendrick of Alabama submitted a response to Joe Balog's most recent Balog's Bass War column in our Feedback section. It's so well-written that we've opted to highlight it here.)
Joe, thank you for the insightful piece. I, too, have been involved in the industry for many years. I have fished both B.A.S.S. and FLW events. I have qualified for the Elite Series, Forrest Wood Cup, Bassmaster Classic, BFL All-American and many Costa, Everstart and Stren Series championships. Therefore, I believe my observations to be both accurate and objective.
Firstly, nowhere has it ever been declared that only two fishing organizations should exist simultaneously. Therefore, as the sport continues to evolve, change in the form of more competitive organizations is certain to occur. Some will survive and some will not. All organizations are jockeying for their “market share” of savvy fishermen. This is of no particular surprise as we live in a free market society. If you would like to start a tournament organization and compete head to head with the existing trio of fishingdom for the fishermen, sponsor dollars, television time and the like, the door is always open.
Secondly, fishermen have moved around among B.A.S.S. and FLW from the beginning. It is noteworthy to point out, however, that the most recent exodus en masse from the Bassmaster Elite Series to the Bass Pro Tour is unprecedented. Nevertheless, as pointed out before, a constant “diffusion” is always occurring.
Thirdly, my observation is that tournament organizations must maintain their adaptive and innovative modes of operation. Doing the same thing the same way for years with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality is certain to sour even the most accomplished pros. We know that change is difficult and sometimes risky. Fishermen at the top tier of professional angling aren’t average Joes (no pun intended). They have worked diligently and overcome many obstacles to arrive at that level. There is something unique about their ability to continually rise to the challenge at hand. Indeed a static “this is the way we’ve always done it” organization is likely to succumb to a more progressive, futuristic, energizing endeavor. True in business, true in medicine, true in life, true in fishing.
I am not a conspiracy theorist. If a conspiracy exists, then so be it. I choose to enjoy the passion that I discovered on a creek bank. A young boy, a spinning rod, a box of crickets and as many swollen bluegill as I could dream. Yes, things have changed. Is it for the better or for the worse? Only time will tell. But most likely, a healthy serving of each will prove to be the eventual outcome.
Lastly, to all of the professional fishermen out there, best of luck moving forward, as 2019 is sure to be an exciting year. Stars will be born, stars will burn out, bass will be caught and life will move on ... with or without our even noticing. Let us never forget that we have all been blessed beyond measure. In the end, we are all just fishermen who have been given the opportunity to live our dream.