The perfect storm may be the beginning of the end for BFL tournament anglers.
What happens now?
It’s a sad day for weekend tournament fisherman. It’s hard to believe, but the emergence of MLF combined with the death of Irwin Jacobs has created a perfect storm for FLW to follow in the direction of B.A.S.S. I think this will take professional fishing further away from the weekend anglers and closer to only the “elite” level pros.
Like Jerry McGinnis’ purchase of B.A.S.S. many years ago—Boyd Duckett will gear this deal toward fishing celebrity and cable revenues (sadly, they will be looking for the next Iconelli—the sport’s celebrity bad boy who, years ago, single handedly got the ESPN brass to take notice). It was the death-knell for B.A.S.S. weekend anglers but a bonanza for the sport’s best fishermen. Thank God for the FLW—which never lost its contact with its minor-league anglers and made big-time tournament fishing a reality for those that had neither the money or the time to make it to the big leagues.
Yes, it’s the free market at work, but long term it’s not good for the BFL-level anglers that are the true heart of tournament fishing. We can only hope that Trish Blake and classy people who make up the customer-focused operation in Benton will have a strong voice going forward. We hope that people like Bill Taylor and his team of outstanding tournament directors will keep the weekend anglers front and center in their business strategy. No knock against Boyd Duckett—he’s a proven businessman with his MLF format—but he will obviously be protecting the interests of the big-time pros (which I support, but not at the exclusion of the rest of us). Hopefully, Duckett will not lose sight of the tens of thousands of FLW/BFL fishermen who have enjoyed the opportunity to compete in professionally run tournaments. Their loyalty to FLW is unquestionable.
Until we see how this is all going to shake out—and it may be a while—let’s keep supporting all the regional and local tournament trails, charity events, club tournaments and other derbies that we can. At some point, those options may be the only way many weekend anglers will have the chance to compete.
Here’s the article from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.