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There is an angling sights to see out there on our lakes and reservoirs. It is not only languid idlers in the mist, reveling in the peace and quiet. This Bass fishing man is cut from different cloth. He is powered by a 200 hp speedboat loaded with high tech gadgetry. And he is something of a fanatic about getting bass.
While the majority of the fishing business is level, bass fishing is going ballistic, as the President would say. George Bush belongs to the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS). He even told The New York Times that Bassmaster is his favourite magazine.
Of the country ‘s 60 million anglers, completely 28 million pledge allegiance to Bass fishing.
Why Bassand not, say, trout fishing? Dave Precht, editor of Bassmaster, the Montgomery, Ala. bible of the sport, says it is a question of enjoyment. “Bass fight the line on the surface. That is exhilarating.”
There are more typical motives bass fishing is proliferating. Lakes and reservoirs in every state but Alaska have been stocked with assortments of bass. You can not do that with freshwater salmon.
And contrary to the picture of the quiet angler, Bass fishing is a sociable activity. And where folks get together, clubs form. BASS boasts 550,000 members, who take part in its tournaments, read its magazines, see its cable TV shows and show up at its conventions.
Last August, 50,000 bass enthusiasts traveled to Richmond, Va. to attend the BASS Masters Classic fishing tournament and store at a tackle trade show. The rafters of the Richmond Coliseum trembled as 15,000 devotees saw the final weigh in of the yearly tournament. Those who could not get a seat viewed the proceedings via closed-circuit TV in the trade hall.
Regional tournaments are held across the U.S. from February through September. Patrons include the likes of Chevrolet, Dodge and Marlboro as well as somewhat exotic bass brands including Furuno Fishfinder and Offender baits.
Bass fishers shell out some strong cash. U.S. anglers spend an average of between $34 and $200 a year on fishing gear, according to the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (AFTMA). However, the typical BASS member spends $1,000 per annum on supplies. And speedboats are only the start. Complex sonar and radar apparatus monitor the elusive fish. Electrical placement motors inch anglers quietly toward their unsuspecting piscine quarry.
Bass believers are a class apart. “Some folks look on bass fishermen in a negative way,” says Joe Kuti, marketing vice president for AFTMA of Barrington, Ill. “Bass fishers see themselves as better than many others.”
“They’re faithful and they promote their boats every three years,” says Cliff Shelby, marketing manager for Ranger Boats of Flippin, Ark. It is not uncommon for a weekend bass enthusiast to cough up $15,000 to $25,000 for a boat. “They’re susceptible to the new. They need that competitive advantage,” says Dick Wood, president of H.D. Wood Advertising in Ocean City, N.J.
New Bass boat versions are turned out every year. Popular versions sport double bucket seats with “tuck and roll” upholstery and custom paint and carpeting occupations.
Bass fishing is not completely a male preserve. Nineteen-year old Bass’n Gal is a women’s bass fishing club with 27,000 members. “It is simpler to lift a sequence of bass when compared to a 3 year old child,” volunteers Sugar Ferris, who founded the group in Arlington, Texas in 1972. When it comes to bass-associated shopping, female anglers are perhaps even a bit more starving for status than their guys. Equipment sales shot up 24% among girls this past year. That compares with a still-healthy 15% among men, says Ferris.
Family fishing is considered a solid growth area for the sport. The 1991 BASS Masters Classic will feature a children’ cast and reeling contest. Not to be outdone, AFTMA is developing a “Get Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs” plan to be introduced in schools.
But Bass’n Gal however,, the rage of the Bass fisherman is still a club for good ol’ boys. The AFTMA survey described anglers as mostly white men, equally divide among white and blue collar. A startling 47% of the group possesses pickup trucks, which describes the wealth of Chevy and Ford advertising in fishing journals. Goodyear transferred 80% of its light truck tire marketing funds to outside magazines 18 months past. “Bass anglers want tow vehicles,” says Goodyear advertising supervisor Dave Drown.
Even with his name, Dave Drown adores the sport whose participants he targets. “I live in downtown Akron. But,” he grins, “I am just 15 minutes from a lake.”
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