The New BASS - Building on a Strong Fishing Foundation
Well, collectively we put about 46 hours of driving in since Tuesday. Some of us came down from Minnesota, some of us from Kentucky and some of us from Arkansas to have a so-called "meeting of the minds" between Wired2Fish and soon-to-be B.A.S.S. boss Jerry McKinnis and one of the hardest working ladies in professional fishing, Angie Thompson.
It was wonderful to get Jerry and Angie in our office for several hours as well as listen to Jerry speak to the many club anglers that turned out Wednesday night in Normal, Ill. for a local event. Jerry told some old stories, was highly motivated about how much he wants BASS to be great, and talked about how much it means to anglers to be a member of a fishing organization.
But most importantly he wanted to listen to what other people thought. What everyday anglers wanted from an organization. And he wanted to hear new ideas on how to make things better.
But he was quick to praise all that current management and the involvement of ESPN have brought and will continue to bring to the BASS organization and fishermen everywhere. We're going to sit down again with Jerry and do an interview about the top 10 things ESPN did for BASS that many people may not know. It's a lot more than most give them credit for.
It was nice to hear from the "horse's mouth" so to speak on several of the rumors, and things that have been said about Jerry's involvement with the production of the television shows, a false sense of favoritism and things of that nature. It was obvious that he took these things very personally and that so much of it was just incorrect interpretation of things.
I personally did not know Jerry from Adam. Or Angie for that matter. Terry and Todd have known both for quite some time. So talking to them both was a guage for the sincerity and passion for something I hold dear to my heart. I'm a scary judge of character and to listen to them talk in private about things was truly special.
But the open dialog about pulling this cart the same direction, the misnomers about growing the sport of fishing, and the fact that somewhere the validation of the fishing lifestyle has been lost in translation in the industry and among tournament fishing was nothing short of refreshing. Jerry spoke very highly of FLW and his days working with them. That was nice to hear him give them their due as well. And he was clear about the fact he doesn't ever want to compete against them. He just wants to run his business the best he can for all the anglers involved and he never wants to do anything to hurt FLW.
Angie has a very astute observation of what is great about professional fishing, weekend tournament fishing and just fun fishing in general. She's keenly aware of the growing importance and demand for digital media from all of us that love fishing and want to get more of it all the time.
Jerry has such a refreshing take on fishing, anglers, and the symbolism of that BASS badge. It's a marker to other bass anglers that you love bass fishing and you're proud of that fact. None of us should ever be ashamed to fly our flags for the things we're passionate about.
And it was very refreshing to see that passion from one of the key players in one of the big pieces in the fishing industry puzzle. There are a lot of great things already about BASS and Jerry simply wants to make the good things better and fix the things that people don't like. None of this will happen in a week or a month or even a year. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and you'll be proud of what you're a part of.
Rome wasn't built in a day. New Orleans wasn't rebuilt in a week and BASS won't be a booming metropolis in a year. But with time and Jerry's, Don's and Jim's vision, this thing is going to be amazing for all anglers who ever had the dream.
The foundation is there to do something special in fishing, because Jerry believes all the anglers from the Federation Nation, to high school kids, college kids and all the way up to the Elite Series make a powerful base for which to build something great.
While 2011 will start to see some great new changes, the bulk of the new stuff realistically won't start showing up until 2012. With the pending sale looking to close as early as next week, Jerry, Don and Jim haven't even had a chance to get started. Many things are already in place for 2011. But give these extremely passionate guys a chance, and you're going to see some great and positive things with BASS and fishing as a whole.
We for one were filled with pride for our industry after a few hours with other passionate fishing folks.
Be sure and follow Jerry McKinnis's blog at JerryMcKinnis.com. And provide feedback. He earnestly wants to hear from you and what you want. If you don't want it put out for the public, type a note that says it's a private message for Jerry. The comments are moderated, so none are posted until they are read by McKinnis.