They’re not true fans of our sport

I’ve thought about this topic for a few days now. I wanted to be sure I wanted to write about it. The thinking is over. I do want to write about it. If we don’t get this out in the open and figure out a way to deal with it our sport is going to suffer — bad.

(Editor’s note: Before you get into Mike’s article I have a couple of comments. I have heard stories of fishermen fishing the pro’s spots AFTER an event and bass fishermen marking the pro’s spots on their sonar units. Both of these are fine. But, competing with a guy who is trying to make a living by fishing spots just left by a pro is NOT. Pros may have caught fish there and are going to another spot to let the good location “cool off”. Cutting in front of a professional fisherman competing in a tournament is just WRONG. I have had boats cut ten yards in front of me while my wife and I were out fishing for pleasure. That is also wrong. Somewhere down the line these guys were never taught the generally recognized but unspoken “rules of the road”. I have also had “I think I am a pro” types move right in to an area my partner and I were fishing in a tournament. I mean about five yards of separation at most. A through scolding and one of their Alabama Rig lines getting snagged by my partner’s big crankbait finally got the message across. Their response was, “Don’t you guys want to share your fishing spot? WHAT! In both of these cases I have mentioned, the boats were occupied by “young” men. Is that telling us something? I won’t get into “water motorcycles or boats- both fishing and pleasure boats, running between me and the area being fished.)

I’m talking about the jerks who follow us around during practice and in competition to see where we’re fishing and then move onto our spots and fish them. Sometimes they wait until we leave but at other times they move in right on top of us in the middle of a tournament day. Either way it’s discourteous and disrespectful. I don’t know what else to call them besides jerks. (Well, actually I do know what they are but B.A.S.S. wouldn’t publish it if I wrote it so I might as well go with jerks.)

This problem started about five years ago, or at least that’s when I first started noticing it. Back then it was confined to the big events. But now it’s happening in every tournament, and not just to me. I’d guess that way over half the Elite guys can tell stories about it.

I’ve had two especially bad experiences recently. At Toledo Bend a guy fished my spots the moment I left them — same guy more than once — even though Sam Rayburn is only about 30 minutes away and is every bit as good a lake as Toledo Bend.

The other one was at the TTBC. This guy who probably fancies himself a bass angler cut in front of me as I was fishing a bank and then fished everything in front of me with a vengeance. He was really fishing hard. This was in the middle of the tournament. Really, how many other hot bass lakes are around Lake Ray Roberts? Was my spot the only one he could fish?

I’m told that the game with these guys is to see if they can catch more weight from a spot than we catch. If so, that’s really stupid. It proves nothing because to be a real bass angler you have to find your own fish, and then catch them.

All these guys are doing is fishing someone else’s spot. Their efforts prove they are sorry men who can only catch bass that another angler found. They’re proving their own weakness. If they think they can fish, maybe they should compete in the Opens, qualify for the Elites and give it a go under real professional tournament conditions.

Mostly their excuses center on the public water argument. You know, they have the right to fish. OK. That’s true.

Mike I

Michael Iaconelli. Seigo Saito photo

But I wonder how they would feel if I went to their job and stole something they had developed and kept them from getting their paycheck. Or maybe, say they’re a barber. Is it OK for me to stand in front of their shop and play loud rap music with filthy lyrics so no one would come into their shop for a haircut? The sidewalk’s a public place, you know.

And what about messing up an angler who really needs — not wants, but needs — a check? Do they have the right to ruin his tournament, or maybe even his career? Don’t kid yourself. Not every Elite Series angler is making a lot of money. Something like what I’m talking about can really hurt.

I want to be perfectly clear about something else: I’m not talking about the true fans of our sport who follow us around and watch us practice and compete. I love that. I love to see them. Heck, I love them. They make professional bass fishing the sport it is right now. Without them we’d be nothing.

I’m not talking about guys on their annual fishing trip, anglers who live on the lake and fish it all the time, or someone who has a week with his grandchild and wants to take him or her fishing, either. They’re what the concept of public water is really all about.

And yes, it’s perfectly fine to mark our spots and then fish them after the tournament is over. It’s also smart to watch us fish and take notes. If we’re catching fish, use what you learn to your advantage. I smile ear-to-ear when I find out that I’ve helped another angler catch more bass. It really makes my day. Who I am talking about are the jerks who drive long distances just so they can mess with us and try to prove their manhood by stealing bass from our spots.

Seriously, this is a major problem, and it’s getting worse. It affects the outcome of tournaments and needs to be controlled. There’s culture among some guys that’s developed that says this is OK. It isn’t. We need to do something about it. Honestly, though, I don’t know what.

Let me say it bluntly: These men are not true fans of our sport. We don’t need them.

One Comment

  1. Graham Jones says:


    This is a problem of common courtesy with a bit of greed and stupidity mixed in. The simple solution would be to assign a patrol boat to each fisherman (at least in the finals). The people in the patrol boat can, as nicely as possible, request that other boats keep their distance and not jump on the spot after the pro leaves the location.

    While I am on a soapbox, why not teach the ‘pros’ how to hold heavy fish and not damage their jaws? I get sick of seeing pictures of bass held horizontally by their jaws, so I’ve stopped looking a the pictures.

    Lake Texoma