Bass Fishing in USA

Bass are the most pervasive sport fish in the U.S. indigenous to the waters of every state except Alaska. And bass prove to be a worthy opponent even for pro anglers. In the cult-like devotion it inspires, bass fishing is similar to NASCAR. In fact, many bass fishermen are NASCAR fans.

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According to Sports Illustrated, 30 million Americans fish for bass every year. B.A.S.S. (the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, www.bassmaster.com), primarily a conservation and advocacy group, has about 600,000 members. Founded by Ray Scott in 1967, B.A.S.S. manages more than 30 national fishing tournaments annually, which are televised on ESPN. ESPN paid an estimated $35 million to $40 million in 2001 to buy the family-run operation.

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According to B.A.S.S. the average amateur angler spends about $200 a month on equipment, which adds up to a $40 billion industry. That is more than is spent on tennis or biking. But fishing is a private activity that does not generate the excitement other sports do. As a result, participation is not growing.

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The Ozarks (Missouri) have become a mecca for bass fishermen. According to USA Today, some anglers drive up to 14 hours to fish in the area. According to Derrick Crandall, director of the American Recreation Coalition (www.funoutdoors.com), other popular areas for bass fishing include:

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• Lake Lanier, GA

• Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL)

• Kentucky Lake, KY

• Lake Mead, NV

• Shasta Lake, CA

Tournaments

FLW Outdoors (www.flwoutdoors.com) – named after Forrest L. Wood, developer of the Ranger bass-fishing boat – is the sanctioning organization for a series of sportfishing tournament tours, the most prominent of which is the Wal-Mart FLW Tour of high-stakes bass fishing tournaments. The Forrest Wood Cup, the top bass tournament on the FLW Tour, was the first to offer a $1 million prize for the winner, in 2007.

For a variety of reasons, bass tournaments are the biggest in the sport, but there are other fishing tournaments. Saltwater fishing offers a bluefish tournament with a $1.8 million purse. The American Carp Society (www.americancarpsociety.com) has offered purses of $1 million for its events. And there are numerous regional tournaments of all types.

Bass Fishing in USA Photo Gallery




The following are some of the major fishing tournaments (source: USA Today): $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza

• Brainerd, MN; held in January (www.icefishing.org)

• According to The Brainerd Jaycees, the event sponsors, some 20,000 holes are drilled in the ice and 9,000 bundled-up anglers brave the freezing weather for this annual three-hour contest. Acclaimed as the largest ice-fishing tournament in the world, the first-place prize is a pickup truck.

Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo

• Mobile, AL; held in July (www.adsfr.com)

• Started in 1929, this is the oldest ongoing fishing tournament in the U.S. More than 3,000 contestants chase tarpon, king mackerel, amberjack, and two dozen other kinds of sport fish. Prizes total $400,000.

Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament

• Morehead City, NC; held in June (www.thebigrock.com)

• This is the most notable among several big-money ocean fishing tournaments held

on the East Coast. More than 150 boats convene on the Crystal Coast of North

Carolina to try for $1.8 million in prizes.

Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby

• Martha’s Vineyard, MA; held in September (www.mvderby.com)

• This tournament dates to 1945. The event attracts over 80 corporate sponsors.

Okie Noodling Tournament

• Pauls Valley, OK; held in July (www.okienoodling .com)

• Entrants in this contest catch catfish bare-handed. Participants prowl the lakeshores and riverbanks in search of catfish holes, then reach in and try to pull the fish out.

S. Tokunaga Store Ulua Challenge

• Hilo, HI; held in June (www.tokunagastore.com)

• A unique feature among ocean-fishing tournaments, all participants must fish from shore. The quarry is the ulua, or giant trevally, which can top 100 pounds.

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