Over the last several weeks, the entire bass fishing industry has been immersed in the development of a new, high-profile tournament trail and the reaction and changes taking place with the established tours. Such has resulted in more back-room discussions and heated opinions than ever seen in pro bass, per my recollection. And, as we wait for more concrete evidence of a transformation – primarily in terms of tournament schedules and rosters – let’s take a break for a moment, shall we? I know I need it.
Instead, let me share with you two near and dear publications that I still look forward to finding in my mailbox, in a time when print publications are disappearing faster than original Wiggle Warts on eBay.
Why the attention to these, you ask? I was recently reminded how many of you – especially those younger than myself – no longer read magazines, or never did in the first place. Quite simply, you’re missing out.
First off, if you’re a hard-core bass fishing junkie, then Bass Angler Magazine (often simply referred to as BAM) is for you. The brainchild of West-coast tournament angler Mark Lassagne, BAM offers insight into the world of professional bass like no other source, with little allegiance or political sway. Quite frankly, it’s real.
In BAM, prominent pros from any and all tours disclose secrets to advanced readers looking to go to the next level. Subject matters range from life on tour to hardcore tactics; gear reviews and more. The latest edition is a case in point: there’s the intricacies of swimbaits with Edwin Evers and swimjigs with Randy Howell. There’s a contribution from life-long finesse guru Don Iovino, while Brandon Palaniuk shares thoughts about on-the-water conduct. Tom Mann Jr., now a prominent guide on Okeechobee, gives us up-to-date info on how the big lake fared in last year’s hurricane.
Fresh, new content regularly makes it into the pages of BAM, rather than the same, re-hashed guidelines we’re constantly subject to in most bass publications. Articles are short and fast-paced. It’s a killer bathroom reader.
Another to share is Fishing Tackle Retailer. Again commonly referred to by its call-letters, FTR is the publication on the business of fishing. Ken Duke – a true historian of bass fishing – runs the ship, serving as the FTR Managing Editor, but the publication serves more than the bass crowd. Here, everything from minnows to muskies and pilchards to pelagics are given purpose, from the industry that drives the pursuit of each.
Through the pages of FTR, we’re given insight into industry hirings and firings, new company models and directions, and environmental bills and topics that impact our sport. There’s tons of news about ICAST – the annual tackle show that drives the industry through the entire calendar year – as well as pointers on how to better operate your fishing business, and constant news about internet advertising from digital editor Joe Sills. Retailers, buyers, manufacturers, even commercial fishermen and tournament anglers all gain from the insight served up in FTR.
As an example, the September/October issue carries news about a changing trend in China, inside scoop on Bass Pro Shops and their plans for Cabela’s, news on personnel additions at Mercury, and talks about the boom in crappie fishing. And, when it comes to new product showcases, FTR delivers the goods like no other.
Admittedly, the list of magazines delivered to my home can be viewed as excessive, but there’s justification for it. Once the lifeblood of staying informed, periodicals still serve as a good way to slow down and ingest the fishing lifestyle and stories within, as well as keep up on the issues facing pro bass.
Believe me, the overall quality of material goes up dramatically when a writer realizes his or her work is going to remain forever printed on paper, rather than disappear into the online abyss. These two examples are no exception; have a look yourself.
(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.)