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Colby Price

The Culture of Bass Fishing

In this paper, I will discuss tournament and recreational bass fishing, the financial side of
bass fishing, and the attitudes and traits towards bass fishing. In the sport of professional bass
fishing, there has been a huge growth in the market and participation involved with this outdoor
activity. For the individuals who fish, it has become almost a lifestyle. For this study of bass
fishing, I will reference two types of fishermen; recreational fishermen and tournament
fishermen.
Tournament fishermen are dedicated individuals who pay money to enter a tournament,
and try to catch the biggest five fish in eight hours. A tournament is held on a specific body of
water where everyone who has paid an entry fee are fishing for prize money. Tournaments are
designed differently, depending on who is the head of the tournament and where the lake is
located. All bass fishing tournaments have different rules and regulations (Schultz). The head of
the tournament checks all live wells of the entered boats to make sure they are empty. The live
well is where the fish are held during the day, and is basically a fish tank located inside the boat.
The boats entered have to have 1 life vest for every person on the boat because of safety reasons.
Most all tournaments are not fishing from the bank, so they are mostly fished with boats. Boats
are the primary source of use for bass fishing at different lakes, but kayaks have had an increase
in popularity when bass fishing.
Fishing rods, reels, and lures are also very important when bass fishing. A fishing rod is
typically a long, tubular piece of fiberglass that has a mount on it to place a fishing reel. The
fishing reel is made with a handle on the side of it for retrieving the fishing line, so the fishing
line on it can be reeled in. Lures are what are cast to try to catch the fish. Lures have hooks on

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them, so when a fish bites the lure, the fish is hooked. Most bass fishing tournaments are from
eight oclock in the morning until three oclock. As fish are caught throughout the day, and your
biggest five fish will be weighed. At three oclock when all the boats meet back up at the boat
landing, a scale and a basket await the fishermens fish. The caught fish are placed in a bag filled
with water and carried over to the scales where they are placed in a basket on top of the scale to
figure out how much the fish weigh. The fishermen that caught the most weight of fish is then
crowned the winner of the tournament and is given his or her prize money (Schultz). Sometimes
money is given to the fishermen who has caught the biggest, single fish in the tournament too. So
the fishermen who has the most knowledge or luck on a given day can determine the winner of
the prize money.
There are different levels of tournaments different fishermen can fish. There are
tournaments that are directed towards the weekend warriors who dont dedicate their lives
towards bass fishing, and there are people who travel the country and actually fish tournaments
for a living. The term weekend warriors is used to describe tournament fishermen that only
fish tournaments on the weekends at nearby lakes. There are different trails of tournaments that
allow anglers to fish around the nation for money and the opportunity to fish in the Bassmaster
Classic (Schultz). To gain some more knowledge on the activity of tournament bass fishing, I
went to the second day of a three day fishing tournament known as the Bassmaster Classic. The
Bassmaster Classic is considered the Super Bowl of bass fishing. The grand prize for catching
the biggest total weight of fish over this three day fishing tournament is three hundred thousand
dollars and every fishermen leaves the tournament with at least ten thousand dollars in prize
money. The tournament was held on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina, which was about two and
half hours away. The Bassmaster Classic held at an outdoor expo center where there were

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different booths set up. The booths were set up by different fishing companies, who either make
boat motors, boats, lures, and fishing apparel. Just by going to this event, attendees can learn
about almost everything to do with fishing. There are people who just started fishing, to people
who have been fishing for 40 or more years. There were boats and boat motors set out, so anyone
could have talked to the marine mechanics and boat salesman about everything to deal with boats
and motors. There were lure booths everywhere, so any questions about what, when, and how to
use certain baits, there was certainly more than enough people to help. I asked Cale Helms
questions about how much money is involved with a weekend warrior like himself. In the
interview I asked, How much money has he spent on lures and fishing related things? He
answered:
Every time I go fishing in a tournament, I pay an entry fee which is about thirty dollars.
I also pay for gas to drive the boat to the lake, the gas the boat burns while on the lake, lures he
loses, and anything that may break during the tournament.
We then discussed how much time he dedicates to fishing. He told me on the days he
fishes, he focuses from dusk until dawn. But when he cant go fishing, he will clean out his boat,
make sure the engine is running right, and organize the lures and rods for the next trip. So about
30 minutes a day.
I wanted to learn more about a more serious angler and the financial side of fishing. On
an average day, he loses about fifty dollars if he doesnt win the tournament. Another question I
asked him was about how much he has invested on lures and apparel. He answered, A lot. I
asked him to put a figure to the question, and he came out with about three thousand dollars on
rods, reels, lures, and apparel. As it can be hypothesized, fishing can be addicting and expensive.
But if fishing is loved by someone and they fish tournaments, they will have fun while making
some money. The main thing that causes a hole in someones wallet, is buying a boat for

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tournament fishing. Some fishermen have become bankrupt, and some of the tournament
fishermen that dedicate their lives to bass fishing actually have won millions of dollars by fishing
tournaments (Hummel), so that money can go towards buying better equipment. Kevin Vandam,
a well-known fishermen today, has won four Bassmaster Classic tournaments and many other
smaller tournaments. In just documented prize money, he has won over five million dollars over
twenty five years, by just entering bass fishing tournaments. As a tournament angler who is so
widely known, he receives money from sponsors for doing so well (Schultz). He even had his
name trademarked on certain lures. The people associated with tournament fishing are generally
great guys.
One of fishermens main goals is to spread their knowledge about fishing, and to show
how fun fishing is. Many of the fishermen gather at fishing tournaments and joke with each other
if someone hasnt caught much, and the guys that did pretty good, get to make fun of the guys
that got skunked. Skunked is when someone goes fishing and doesnt catch a single fish the
whole time theyre fishing. In the world of bass fishing, everyone has different slang words used
for everything. Some people say, rippin lips, pig, and hoss. All of those words mean
catching fish, a big fish, and a huge fish. So there is definitely some different ways for using
different words for fishing.
Recreational fishing is mainly taken up by people who want or need a hobby. These
anglers do not fish tournaments for different reasons, such as they like to eat what they catch,
they dont like their chances of fishing in a tournament, or they just dont want to pay the entry
fee to a tournament. Anglers who just enjoy to fish for fun, dont have to dedicate quite as much
time, because there isnt as many things to worry about when someone is not tournament fishing.
They dont have to bring as much money with them when going to the lake, there is no time

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restraint, and the fish caught that day can be ate. In most tournaments, the fishermen are not
allowed to keep the fish. The fishermen have to throw back their fish for conservation efforts
encouraged by wildlife services (Van Horn, Finke). Recreational fishermen include nontournament fishermen, people who fish from the bank, and people who only fish at local
reservoirs or ponds. People who fish from the bank use the advantage of public land or public
access to go fishing. Kyle McConnaughey is strictly a recreational fishermen. He doesnt think
someone has to invest a lot of money in fishing lures, or rods and reels. He has an older boat, and
whenever he gets some free time he likes to go to the lake. Since he is not involved in
tournament fishing, he doesnt have to own a real nice boat, it doesnt need high tech equipment
such as a fish finder, and trolling motor. I asked Kyle questions such as how often he goes
fishing, does he eat what he catches, and what he thinks about tournament fishing. He responded
to all three questions at once and said,
I only goes fishing about once every two weeks, because I love eating fish every now
and again. I eat what I catch. Most of the time I goes catfishing and I always has a fish fry after a
good day of fishing. I do not like to tournament fish because when I go fishing, I do not like to
have a time limit and to just relax while out on the lake.
There are different opinions between the types of fishermen. It is all about personal
preference when it comes to fishing.
In the world of bass fishing, there are many different opinions, attitudes and perspectives
people take when thinking about fishing. Some people that have owned boats before say that it is
a waste of money because of the maintenance and cost of using the boat often. The community
associated with fishing possesses a wide array of attitudes towards different things about fishing.
Tournament and Recreational fishermen have a similar mindset when they get to the water; they
both want to catch fish. Both types of fisherman interact by talking at fast food restaurants early
in the morning before getting to the lake or pond, and some hang out at gas stations around lakes

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to communicate to the other fishermen about their day on the water. The relationship between
recreational fishermen and tournament fishermen is pretty close.
Because bass fishing is very lucrative, fishermen can be poor or rich. Some people
assume that the anglers that fish for a living have not been to school or have other jobs. That is
the biggest misconception in bass fishing, and many fishermen actually have college degrees and
run their own businesses when they are not traveling the country to go fishing. Most of the
anglers who have the money to travel around and fish tournaments, have more than likely used
their degree to obtain a job where they can use the saved money from that to use towards fishing.
For example, Edwin Evers, a professional fishermen used his marketing skills after he became a
more well-known name, and started a business where he sells packaged snacks. The intended
market for these snacks were for tournament fishermen who have a time limit to grab a snack
during a long day of fishing. So many anglers dont just fish for a living. Some do because they
are fortunate enough to win enough money and receive enough money from sponsors to not have
to work side jobs. So as many misconceptions there are with the types fishing, the people who do
this a lot, love doing it.

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Hummel, Richard. "Hunting and Fishing for Sport : Commerce, Controversy, Popular
Culture." (Book, 1994) [UNC Charlotte Libraries]. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2015.
Schultz, Ken. "Bass Madness : Bigmouths, Big Money, and Big Dreams at the Bassmaster
Classic." (Book, 2006) [UNC Charlotte Libraries]. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2015.
Van Horn, Scott L., and Jerome R. Finke. "North Carolina Black Bass Tournament Catch Survey,
1991-1994 : Final Report." (Book, 1995) [UNC Charlotte Libraries]. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb.
2015.