I was intrigued by an article in the latest edition of Bassmaster Magazine. Prognostications of the Bassmen took an inside look at our predictions for the sport of bass fishing 25 years ago and compared them to modern-day truths. Now, Iím not sure exactly who was looking into the crystal ball back then Ė the article never reveals such Ė but suffice to say there was an entertainment value to such crazy forecasts, and the ways in which a few came true.
For instance, the article lists a prediction of satellite-controlled trolling motors for our fishing. That, as we all know, is now true thanks to original advancements by Minn Kota. Other ideas centered around space-age boats and motors that never panned out, or have yet to do so.
This monthís article reviews the past survey and takes the same steps Ė interviewing industry experts on their predictions for the future of bassing, our natural resources, equipment technology and competitive fishing directions.
Their answers center on technological advancement and, I must say, itís entertaining to think we may someday have electronic depthfinders that find fish all around the boat and key us in to their specie, or lures that really call fish through changing colors, sound and taste.
But I wonder when weíll hit the breaking point.
Of course, as many of you have likely guessed, Iím speaking about the time when the best-equipped anglers simply overwhelm the fish, or educate them beyond the point of being catchable. Is that possible?
It may very well be.
Even more so, itís important to point out the increasing information gap between part-time, recreational fishermen and those who cast for cash, pouring all available resources into catching more bass.
By that, I mean we must consider everyone involved in the industry, whether that be the guy chasing tournaments all across the country or the family just trying to get the kids out for the weekend. How will our obsession with technology and mastery of the game influence them?
Ask yourself this: Where were you in regard to the latest fads 25 years ago? Did you have the same depthfinder as every serious bass angler you knew? And how many of those depthfinders did you have on your boat? Did you run an outboard over 200 horsepower? How about shallow-water anchors? Did you know what a HydroWave was, or have lures costing more than $20 apiece?
Now think where you are today, and imagine yourself trying to break into the sport in modern times.
What Iím getting at has been a subject here in the past, but now resurfaces as we review interviews with the most prominent minds in bass fishing, thanks to the Bassmaster piece.
If technology advances to the point where only the most equipped anglers are capable of catching a fish, where does that leave the rest of the participants of the sport? How does the family with kids compete for the same fish regularly targeted by anglers with underwater fish radar being broadcast on six big screens?
More so, where does a young angler Ė perhaps a college standout who hasnít been handed the Golden Ticket Ė get the funding to put together a bass rig that can even compete? I recently priced a new competitorís add-on equipment and found that he spent over $18,000 on options to upgrade his boat to current competitive ďstandards." How will things be in the future?
My point is this: While Iím a huge proponent of modern technology, I wonder if weíll ever find it necessary to back it down a notch. Even more, would the fans of professional bass fishing like to see it happen? I might.
Iíve always been fascinated with the pros who buck tradition and go old-school in their approach. Whether itís Denny Brauer living and dying with a flipping stick or John Cox running through drain pipes in modern times, Iíve routinely enjoyed watching pros who still fish the bank. The approach takes us back to the primal times of bass fishing, before manís intrusion pushed so many lunkers to secret haunts offshore.
Maybe, just maybe, a time will exist when fans like me will get tired of watching a pro idle around for hours before making a cast, or sour when we learn he was handed a magic waypoint that led to his victory. Perhaps weíll again enjoy watching bass fishermen bass-fish.
If so, the current trend seems to be moving away from the idea. And itís also reducing the chances for anyone else to join in.
I wonder where weíll be in 25 years? At times, I not too anxious to find out.
(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.)