Iím not entirely sure when I first began writing this column. I do remember, however, the primary reason for pleading my case to do so: the fishing industry, more specifically the business side of professional bass fishing, was so clouded in political and financial dishonesty, I couldnít stand it.
More specifically, I had an overwhelming desire to learn from the best. And, when truths were withheld from tournament winning strategies just to sell a few more lures, I had no problem being the one to call it out.
Early Bass War columns blended this investigatory motive with candid interviews from the pros themselves, all in an attempt to get on the inside of fishingís fast track.
Later, we discussed environmental issues, or those most likely to shape the industry as we know it. We examined revolutionary new fishing gear Ė even hit on the best television and print sources out there for gaining more of an edge.
Throughout the decade or so that Iíve written, Iíve occasionally tossed in a narrative piece, taking readers with me on my adventures in bass obsession. While these fables fly over the heads of many, itís such first-person accounts that generate the most feedback in my inbox. Apparently, Iím not the only weirdo out there.
Occasionally, I filter back through old columns, giving them a brief read to reflect on what once seemed so significant. Doing so is much like looking at an old photograph of yourself; you see how much youíve changed and notice how certain preferences in life seem less important than they once did, whether they be a political viewpoint or an old haircut.
Through it all, a writerís style and contributions evolve. It happens with every trade in life; Iím told itís natural and positive in order to stay relevant in an ever-changing world.
So each week, 50 weeks a year, I generate some type of material that, I feel, will tune in at least one reader and make that person feel like their viewpoint matters. Often, I attempt to covey two often-opposing perspectives on the same issue, so that we may all consider the alternative. Todayís society, I feel, lacks such consideration more than ever.
Regardless, often the most difficult thing involved in writing hundreds of unique columns for the same source is simply coming up with a topic. Occasionally itís easy, I must admit, like when a guy goes out and wins every tournament he enters, or the tournament trails experience a mutiny.
But often, itís not that easy.
The upcoming season will undoubtedly be one that offers a great deal of highlights and blunders, providing me with quite a bit to report back with. In addition, Iíve recently expanded my position within the industry and that will offer me some journalistic insight perhaps never before shared with readers.
But thereís more to do. As Iíve pondered topics for upcoming articles, I wondered, what do you want? Immediately, a few ideas popped into my head, like further discussion of the smallmouth sagas on places like Mille Lacs, or the real dollars and cents behind a pro career. Iíve wondered if thereís more interviews needed with our aging legends or rising stars. Do readers have interests in things like spawning studies, or am I being overly sympathetic?
Perhaps Iím opening up a can of worms; Iíve been told that giving readers the pen can be a slippery slope. But in the past, itís my readers who have inspired me on more than one occasion.
Iíd love to hear your ideas for future topics for Balogís Bass War. You can submit them here, in the Feedback section, or by messaging me on social media at the Millennium Promotions Facebook page, or on Instagram.
Regardless of how long Iíve been present here, itís been one of the best opportunities of my career. Through it all, Iíve generated only two pieces of hate mail, yet hundreds of positive messages; Iím pretty proud of that. Iíve done all I can to continue to bring you an impartial look into many aspects of bass fishing, without trying to sell you a thing, and in return, weíve created the most popular column in the sport together. Whoíd have thought?
Itís your turn to chime in. Letís get down to business in 2019.
(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.)