Think you’ve got all the answers? Are you set in your ways? Can an old fisherman be taught new tricks? While my questions are rhetorical, the fact of the matter is, if we close our minds we risk condemning ourselves to never moving forward in our sport. The Bass fishing industry is fluid; ever changing, evolving and developing. As anglers, especially tournament anglers we need to keep an open mind and embrace education just as we embrace a hot new lure.
Winter is upon us and many states throughout our great nation are feeling the icy grip of old man winter as he blankets us with fresh snow and bitter cold temperatures. For me this is a great time of year not only because I love to pack up, head south four hours and spend a few days chasing deep fish at Table Rock, but also because this is show and seminar season and a lot of us at this time of year (me included) have our schedules filled with working boat and outdoor shows for our sponsors and providing informative seminars to like minded anglers.
Just because scores of us stand in front of crowds of anglers this time of year to share our insights doesn’t mean we know it all, quite the contrary. Continuing our Bass fishing education is just as important as continuing our personal or professional education regardless of our level of ability.
I recently returned from Shreveport, Louisiana where I attended The Bass University. I joined and made the trip with five of my peers from the local area, all very good tournament anglers in their own right that have schooled me in tournaments more often than I care to admit. So, what in the world could guys like us who cast for cash and instruct our own seminars hope to gain from the other side of the podium? Knowledge gained from a continuing Bass fishing education course.
The Bass University is the brainchild of dynamic showman Mike Iaconelli and consummate professional Pete Gluszek and is a two day intensive program aimed at sharing proven tactics and techniques used by professional anglers in the world of competitive Bass fishing. Students are provided twelve separate blocks of instruction over the course of two days by various professional anglers. In the world of university speak I liken these blocks to 100 level college courses with a kick.
The courses themselves provide a great how to overview with regard to specific lures and techniques. The kick is the depth at which the pros are willing to go if you simply ask. We all read magazine articles, Internet Blogs, and watch video and television shows with the hopes of learning what, when, where, and how. Seldom do we put a magazine down and understand the why.
The Bass University offers anglers the ability to cast deeper into waters that they would otherwise be unable to explore. Organized breakout sessions with the pros that allow for a no holds barred question and answer session, the ability to rummage through the pro’s tackle boxes and to study and scrutinize rods, reels, line and tackle is unprecedented. Imagine if you will Larry Nixon (arguably the best worm fisherman in the world) walking into the room carrying his personal tackle bag and a hand full of rod and reel combinations as he prepares to talk to you about worm fishing. Every article you’ve ever read offers recommendations on a rod’s length and action etc. But what you get at The Bass University that you’ll never get from an article or a video is the ability to walk up to Larry Nixon, conduct a hands on inspection of his rod and reel combos (the no kidding ones he uses everyday), ask him why this hook, why that sinker, what knot; braid, fluorocarbon, or mono? You’re going to get an honest answer and in as much depth and detail as you desire.
Still not convinced that The Bass University is for you? Maybe you don’t need to know anything more about Crankbaits, Spinnerbaits, Worms, or Buzzbaits. The Bass University has a surprise for you. The daily weigh in with all the pros. Regardless of what was on the daily schedule for discussion, here’s your chance to ask anything. For example, swimbaits were not on the schedule for discussion the weekend I attended, but the pros were eager to provide their in depth perspective on the topic.
The professional instructors vary by event location, but the theme is always the same according to Master of Ceremonies Bill Decoteau who states, “this is your weekend, your Bass University; leave no question unasked.”
What can you expect to gain from attending The Bass University? That’s a question that only you can answer based on your skill set, level of ability and willingness to open your mind. What I can tell you is that if you’re a jig fisherman and you read twenty articles on jig fishing then spend an entire season fishing a jig, you still won’t have the insight that you would have if you talk to Greg Hackney about why the Strike King Hack Attack Jig is designed the way it is; why he designed his rod the way it is, and what drives him to compete. You’re going to have to attend and see for yourself.
Was the trip to The Bass University worth the investment? It really depends on how you define worth. More than anything it reaffirmed what I was doing right, reminded me of some of the “little” things that I should be doing, but let fall by the wayside and placed me in the room with countless likeminded anglers and allowed me that hands on, in your face one on one time with Mike Iaconelli. So, to that end, yes it was well worth the investment in my continuing education.