Iíve always appreciated a show of athletic dominance in professional fishing. Recently, the best players on each major tour didnít disappoint, as KVD put the screws to the competition in the newly formatted Bassmaster Classic Bracket event, and Andy Morgan locked up another FLW Angler of the Year title.
Such momentum is big news within the pro tournament world. Not surprisingly, a few had begun to write off VanDam due to his hum-drum performance recently and his absence from the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. Others joke that the FLW Tour is custom-made for Morgan and, as more of his major competition leaves the Tour for greener pastures, his country-boy grin just keeps getting wider along with his wallet.
But Iím going to leave all the reports, drama and interviews aside this week. While the intention and selling point of this column is to get the inside scoop, one far from the politics of professional fishing and resource management alike, today, things are different.
Today, I want to clear the air.
My reasons for doing so may surprise you. Since time began here at Balogís Bass War, thereís been a steady stream of opinions, arguments, even childish name-calling, yet I took it all in stride. I continue to do so because I appreciate awareness for all sides of an issue, and my unique position within the industry allows for that. Having thick skin helps.
But recent developments made it apparent that I needed to draft a disclaimer piece. Perhaps it will give readers a new focus when they open BassFan each Thursday; if nothing else, it will give me a link to send future irate e-mailers.
It may come as a shock to many of you to find that one of the most discussed Bass War columns Iíve ever written, and one that generated some of the most heated feedback, was a recent article on the changes in bass regulations in the state of Florida.
While regular readers already know my viewpoint of zero harvest of trophy bass, thatís not the point.
The purpose of the column in question was to direct readers to form their own opinion, but consider all sides of the story. Consider the modern tournament angler, but take into account the old-timer who still fishes to eat. Enjoy resource management that coincides with your goals, but also consider the potential dangers of increased regulation.
Yet, try as I might to simply get readers thinking on their own, they again used the column as an excuse to prove me wrong. But itís not me theyíre arguing with.
Now I donít want to make this into anymore than it should be. After all, weíre talking about a bass fishing column here, not one discussing cancer research, environmental protection or world peace. But, in order to move forward in the direction that you all have come to enjoy, I feel the need to make myself clear: Under few, if any, of the circumstances discussed here each week, do I feel the need to interject my personal opinion, or really care what readers think about it.
In general, my opinion of the issues makes no difference. For example, I donít believe all the conspiracy theories about tournament directors making exceptions for cheaters, and I donít personally care if anglers want unregulated fishing each spring up at Lake Bedsnatcher.
What I do care about is that I keep my readers thinking, thus considering all sides of an issue. Not just the governmentís side, or my side, or yours. All sides.
I think we can all agree that we live in one of the greatest countries on earth. And, despite the news constantly reporting otherwise, the foundation of this great land is the acceptance of all walks of life and the considerations of all beliefs. Keeping those discussions open within our favorite pastime has always been my primary goal.
So who cares what I think? Come here to get caught up on bass fishing news, and consider all those who may be affected. Then form your own opinion, and be proud to voice it.
Your voice is the one we need to hear, and I hope to bring aloud.
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)