(Note: I realize some of you may, in fact, have very competent bass fishing neighbors, please ask them to forgive my generalizations. But the point remains…)
From a lack of participation at local tournaments to a lack of respect from our legislatures and state agencies, you hear a lot of hand-wringing and angst from among the bass fishing crowd. But why doesn’t your next door neighbor bass fish? Or your coworker? Why are there the constant questions at the gas station about “what’s that thingy there on the front (or back) of your boat for”? Here are the reasons why:
1. The “necessary” equipment is intimidating.
From the sparkly, fancy looking boat with all the gadgets and “thing-a-ma-jigs” to the numerous rods and reels, let’s face it, for the outsider looking in the most obvious question would be “where would I even start?”
2. Bass as a fish are mostly misunderstood.
The gap between what bass actually do and how they behave and our beliefs on those topics is a monstrous gap. One that your neighbor isn’t about to bridge when you and I have a hard time even recognizing it.
3. Fishing is very abstract.
Many people view fishing as a “guess” at best. Throw your bait out and hope for the best. Some days you get lucky. Other days, well it’s cloudy, or a little windy or too sunny. Truth is, we have a hard time conceptualizing what happens underneath the surface of the water. It is a barrier that stains the mind to imagine. How do things live and function in a medium that we have a hard time surviving in beyond a few minutes?
4. Hunting and fishing aren’t done the same way.
Fishing and hunting are often compared to each other, but it doesn’t make sense to go out and randomly start shooting like it does in fishing to go out and start casting. If fishing is such a random, hope to get lucky activity, is it worth the time, money and energy? How much money in equipment would you want to spend to throw dice all day long?
5. The “That Guy” factor.
There is something obnoxious about a bass fisherman with all his fancy gear and fancy sublimated jersey that just annoys many people. Ever been out for a bike ride, a walk or a jog and had a “real” bike rider blow by you with his fancy bike, jersey, helmet, shoes, etc.? If you thought you had to do that to ride a bike would you pursue it?
Successful bass fisherman rarely, if ever, talk about the real things that make them successful. The gap between what a successful bass fisherman knows about his equipment and where to go and what to do and what your neighbor knows might be one of the biggest gulfs in all activities today. I mean your neighbor might be quite the golfer, but if you had to be him for a day, chances are you would at least know where to go, how a golf course works, some basic rules and the difference between a putter and a driver or an iron. Ask your neighbor to do what you do for the day and chances are he has a hard time getting out of the driveway, much less figuring out where to go, how to launch or operate the boat and then, by some miracle, if he gets the boat moving…just hard to imagine the rest of the day going well. You might shoot a really bad round, but better odds than not you don’t tee off at the green and try to putt into the rough. It’s doubtful you wander around aimlessly with a golf cart you can barely figure out how to operate and start trying to play through someone’s yard or a school playground thinking “I wonder if this is close”?
7. The thrill of the fight.
Your neighbor doesn’t know the experience of fishing for and catching a bass that you do…that a bass is such a beautiful fighting machine. How he can be a temperamental leprechaun at one time, impossible to locate, and a pugnacious, aggressive shark at another. That it’s reasonable to catch 100 bass in a day and not even see another person trying. That in many places, bass fishing is better than it’s ever been. That in an era of being tied to our phones and computers, bass fishing is a nearly year-round pursuit that can be had at a thousand locations very near where you sit at this moment. You won’t have to wait for the “season” or wait in long lines at a ramp, or anchor or troll next to a hundred other boats. You can still go the rest of your life and fish for fish that have never been fished for before – that you can release to fight again. That you don’t have to have a sparkly boat or 52 rod/reel combinations and 17 tackle boxes. No, your neighbor doesn’t know most of that, but what if he did?