The top ranks of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail are littered with its graduates. Over the years, Bassmaster University has educated several generations of bass enthusiasts — more than 200,000 students in all.
Beginning on January 1, 2005 at 9:30 a.m. ET, the classroom expands when ESPN2 debuts “Bassmaster University,” a new half-hour television show that will bring the latest tips and techniques into living rooms across the bass fishing world.
Since its inception as Bass Fishing Techniques in 1970, Bassmaster University has nurtured everyone from CITGO Bassmaster Classic champions to bass club Anglers of the Year. It has provided a classroom setting and an unrivaled educational platform for more years than any other fishing seminar series. Not only is it the longest running series, but Bassmaster University has been held in 137 college and university campuses in 43 states and Canada. Although the average BU seminar attracts 230 students, several have drawn more than 400. In fact, a 1993 weekend at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio, drew 620 attendees.
“It’s amazing how much Bassmaster University has grown,” former Classic champion Ken Cook said. “I think it’s the best place for a guy to learn a tremendous amount about fishing in one setting. I did one of the early ones with Jimmy Houston. It was held at Rose Junior College at Midwest City, Oklahoma. I was still a fisheries biologist, and Jimmy was still an insurance salesman, but we both fished. I don’t think the crowd was very big, but I remember being scared to death because it was early in my speaking career. Still, it was a bunch of Okies, so we knew we could relate to them and talk about the things we had found to be successful in Oklahoma.”
The educational beat goes on starting in January as the 2005 edition of Bassmaster University comes to 28 sites in 24 cities throughout America, featuring the cream of the crop of BASS pros including Mike Auten, Denny Brauer, Brent Chapman, George Cochran, Ken Cook, Woo Daves, Mark Davis, David Fritts, Pete Gluszek, Dion Hibdon, Guido Hibdon, Shaw Grigsby, Davy Hite, Michael Iaconelli, Don Iovino, Mark Kile, Gary Klein, Mark Menendez, John Murray, Larry Nixon, Hank Parker, Bud Pruitt, Zell Rowland, Ray Scott, Rich Tauber, Joe Thomas, Mark Tyler, Kevin VanDam and Jay Yelas.
“I've done a lot of the Bassmaster Universities,” Gary Klein said. “It’s an avenue where an angler who really wants to apply himself can learn from the greatest anglers out there — the Larry Nixons and Denny Brauers — because they’re instructors in those seminars. If someone is committed to learning this sport for all of the right reasons – if they truly are fishing from the heart and for the love of the sport – they can definitely learn a lot real quick.”
Michael Iaconelli, the 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion, agrees with Klein’s assessment. He’s seen Bassmaster University from both sides.
“I attended two of them as a spectator 1993 and 1994,” he said. “The universities were awesome. In fact, people kind of laugh at this, but I still have my notes from both classes. The classes made a big-time impression on me. To me, they were just as important in the chain of events in my career as joining a club and starting to fish club tournaments.
“There’s just something special about that classroom setting. It’s not like going to a sports show and seeing a seminar. The Universities are geared toward bass fishermen, which is what I love about them. At a sports show, you might see one guy who does some bass fishing, and then you’ll see someone who does saltwater and a guy who talks about hunting. At Bassmaster University, the whole session is geared to learning about bass fishing, and it’s an awesome environment to learn in.”
For the Bassmaster University class near you, see the pages of Bassmaster Magazine or visit www.bassmaster.com and click on the flashing icon on the right side of the home page.
GROWING UP BRAUER. Thirty-two-year-old Missouri pro Chad Brauer, a BASS tournament winner in his own right, was recently asked what it’s been like growing up a Brauer.
“Growing up being Denny Brauer’s son is probably no different than being the child of any other successful person and trying to follow in their footsteps,” he said. “The Earnhardts went through this. Dion and Guido [Hibdon] have been through it, and so have the Daves [Woo and Chris]. All of the sons would say about the same thing, I think.
“There are really two ways you can look at it. There’s probably a lot of pressure having the same last name and having the success that has gone with it in that sport, and there are a lot of expectations when you start out in fishing with the last name of Brauer. Everybody thinks that you’re probably going to be a pretty good fisherman.
“But there’s another way of looking at it. That Brauer name is well established. It gives you a great insight into sponsors when you’re getting started in the sport. You know all of the folks in the industry, and you have it a little easier when you’re getting started. Now, once you get started, it’s a little different ballgame. You’ve still got to do your part and catch the fish and keep up your end of the business with the sponsorships. That Brauer name is just a way of getting your foot in the door.”
HALL OF FAME. For the second consecutive year, the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame will induct its newest class of honorees at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer. The ceremony will be held on July 30th in Pittsburgh.
DID YOU KNOW? Can you name the top three states in terms of BASS members? They are Texas, Florida and California.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO… Arkansas pro Mike Wurm would likely still be working as a medical technologist and dreaming of a career as a golf pro.
THEY SAID IT. “Really, the concept that we use came from continuing education programs as a whole, where everything from guitar picking to real estate was offered. This was a perfect compliment to the college’s continuing education program. Bass fishing is a continuing education project because you will never learn it all. Our seminars have changed a lot over the years. The biggest change is in the presentations of the pros. Thirty years ago, it was guys with their shirttails out and a package of Skoal in their back pocket. Today, they’re skilled communicators.” CITGO Bassmaster University director Gary White on the evolution of the seminar series he started 31 years ago.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.