Bass Fishing Competitions
While humans have been fishing for survival as long as they've been around, the emergence of fishing as a sport and leisure activity has only been around for a relatively short period of time. Many believe that the sport of bass fishing originated in the late 1800's, as no recorded instances of sport fishing have been found before that time. Today, however, this sport is a growing industry with television shows, magazines, and stores devoted solely to the purpose of advancing the sport among fishermen and aspiring youth.
One of the major competitions for bass fishermen – the Bassmaster Tournament Trail – was started by Ray Scott in 1969 and is currently organized by the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society (BASS). While in the beginning, the competitions may not have garnered much media attention, today's top fishermen have become household names. The expansion of cable television channels and the dedication of certain channels to pure sports activities, like Fox Sports and ESPN – which owns BASS – have caused the competitions to be covered virtually nonstop while they're happening. This has made many of the people associated with the sport far more well-known than would have been possible in past years.
Each year, fifty of the world's top anglers compete in the Bassmaster's Classic. These fishermen participate in twelve separate events, competing for the chance to take home the top prize awarded for that competition – half a million dollars. However, this isn't even the largest possible prize in the bass fishing world – the Forrest Wood Cup is actually worth a million dollars to the top fishermen. But winning these prizes isn't the same as going out on the dock and fishing with your dad in the summer – these competitors are trained athletes who use a combination of skill, knowledge and timing to catch the perfect bass.
Most tournaments follow the principles of catch and release fishing. During the competition, bass that have been snared are placed in a holding area alive so that they can be released back into the wild after being weighed and categorized by officials at the event. The fish are taken care of, and if it appears that any of the fish has suffered a stress or coat injury, it is first placed in specially treated tanks before being released. If a competitor happens to catch a dead fish or have a fish die on them during the competition, he or she may be heavily penalized for the fish or have it not count at all. These regulations serve to protect the fish populations, ensuring the continued success of the sport.
Bass fishing competitions are booming in popularity, with anglers from all around the world vying for the chance to win the top prizes in the country. In fact, the Illinois High School Association stated in early 2008 that it would authorize bass fishing tournaments as a competition for high schools – classifying it as another sporting activity akin to basketball or baseball. To find a local bass fishing tournament in your area, check online or speak with representatives at your local sporting goods store. Who knows? You could be well on your way to competing as a professional bass fisherman.