We Need to Grow the Sport

“We need to grow the sport.”

How many times have bass anglers heard this one. If we grow the sport there will be bigger payoffs, more publicity, more promotion. Yes, if only we could grow the sport, then everything will be all right with the world. We would all be rich and good looking. Peace would be felt around the globe and we would never suffer from the heartbreak of psoriasis.

“Great. So, what do you suggest you arrogant, cocky, think-you-know-it-all writer?” you ask.

Well, come to think of it, I do have a suggestion. Make the sport more “female friendly.”

I know that some of you are thinking, “what the hell is wrong with him. I like fishing because it helps me get away from the house, the bills, screaming kids, and honey-do’s.” But, if you truly want the sport to grow, this is one of the fastest methods. You may even find the sport more enjoyable with women involved.

Years ago when only men drove pickups they were noisy, uncomfortable, hard to steer, manual shifting tanks that couldn’t go over 60 miles-per-hour and the whine from the rear-end made enough noise to drown out a “Who” concert. But then, women starting driving them and what a difference it made.

With the new market, truck manufacturers worked to make pickups more “female friendly.” The results? Power steering, cruise control, power windows, softer rides, more safety features, more durability and comfortable padded seats. They even started making trucks longer to allow us take the whole family along.

Did the men complain? No ... in fact, we liked it.

How does this relate to bass fishing? Well, it’s much the same. As long as men try to keep women out of the sport, as long as it’s not female friendly, we will keep the number of participants limited and possibly deprive ourselves advances that could make our lives better.

The sport of bass fishing is as close to perfect as one can get. Virtually any age can compete, male or female. This is not a sport about brute strength. It’s about understanding bass’ habits and habitats. It’s about analysis and thinking on your feet. It’s about competition. I know plenty of women who are more than capable compete and could knock a few of these good ‘Ol boys off their trolling motor pedal.

For married men, getting your wife involved in the sport can be beneficial. If she doesn’t fish and you want to purchase a new $38,000 Skeeter and she may point at the 12-foot aluminum V-bottom and say, “Honey, that one floats.” But, if she is involved, you can bet there will be some options she will want and the next thing you know, you’ve purcahsed a $45,000 boat.

How to get you significant other involved.

There is a tournament director in Arkansas who puts on couples tournaments. He is very successful. I wondered how he was able to get so many women to fish with the men in their lives. I wanted to know what he advised the men to do in order to get them in the boat. He told me, “The first thing I tell them is ‘Don’t scare them.’”

Just because you have a boat that can run 75-miles-per hour doesn’t mean you have to drive that fast. Especially with someone you are trying to get interested in the sport. Slow down. Let her enjoy the ride.

It doesn’t hurt to have a lot of patience. Many women haven’t been exposed to sport and it takes some time for them to become accustomed. Most men learned about fishing from a patient father or uncle. Show her the same courtesy your patient teacher had with you.

Try to go to places where she can catch good numbers of fish. It’s not fun for a beginner to work very long without a reward.

Never take a newcomer out in stormy or windy weather. Your special partner needs to be comfortable to enjoy this new sport.

Attention boat builders

For several decades, bass boat builders have provided anglers with highly sophisticated boats that handle the water well, have lots of storage, are fast and comfortable. For the weekend angler, this is great! Most competitive anglers love them. But, for women trying to get into the sport, modern bass boats, in a tournament situation, have a serious problem.

Men who drink a lot of water will usually dispose of it pretty quick out on the lake and considering how God designed us, we are fairly efficient at it. For women who have any degree of modesty, releasing back pressure is a bit more difficult.

In a non-tournament situation this isn’t much of a problem. You drive to the nearest outhouse and life is good. But, in a tournament, you don’t have time to take that kind of a break. This makes it difficult for women in bass fishing. They want to compete. Physically and mentally they can compete head-to-head with men. But, this restroom situation makes it hard to focus.

I knew of one female angler who would stop drinking the day before a tournament. A one-day tournament was bad enough, but a two-day tournament in the summer at Lake Havasu proved almost too much when she dehydrated so badly she became violently ill.

Boat builders need to address this problem in order to expand the sport -- and it can be done.

There is a company called Rest Stop. They currently make a chemical-filled bag that converts urine into a gel. Some female anglers use their product. It’s basically a cup attached to a bag of the chemical and then is thrown away when they finish with it. This is great, but there is still the problem of privacy.

I spoke with Rest Stop a couple of years ago and they informed me they could supply bags big enough to handle someone urinating two to three times before having to change the bag. If boat builders would incorporate a funnel under the passenger seat that was attached to one of these bags that women could use it would make their lives much more comfortable. Design some type of pull up curtain so she could also have some privacy and she will be smiling throughout the competition. At the end of the day you open a small hatch under the seat, remove the bag and throw it away.

This would really open the sport up and it can be easily accomplished. Believe me, once a manufacturer offered this as an option, their sales would increase dramatically because wives would be telling their husbands to buy the boat with the pee-pee bag.

Women need to be brought into the sport. Tournament circuits need to design some of their tournaments to be more female friendly. Men need to start taking their wives and girlfriends out. We also need to start building the next generation of anglers by not only taking our sons out fishing, but also our daughters.

Robin Lowe, owner of Super Pork, has always taken his daughters fishing with him and they love to go. It has also brought them closer together. When his daughters feel the need to talk with ‘Ol Dad, they simply walk up to him and say, “Dad ... we need to go fishing.” That’s when he knows they need to talk. He hooks up the boat, loads the gear, and grabs some cold drinks and off they go for a day of fishing and talking.

If we truly want to grow the sport we must make it more female friendly. Besides, while I admire Gary Dobyns fishing prowess, he doesn’t smell nearly as nice as my finacée.