We’re coming up on the homestretch of the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour season, and I just finished a great tournament at Beaver Lake in Arkansas where I made the finals and placed eighth overall. Hats off to Matt Arey. After years of hard work and dedication, it all paid off for him as he won the Beaver Lake event presented by Rayovac.
Now that the dust has settled, I’m sitting in 12th place in points for the season with two events to go. I’m duly excited. Pickwick Lake and Kentucky Lake are two of my favorite fisheries on the planet, and I’m looking forward to a strong finish to the season. As I look back at the year thus far, I’ve had a couple of great tournaments and a couple of mediocre tournaments where I missed some opportunities.
I’ll tell you what I’m most excited about now, however. I’m excited about the future of our sport. Let me tell you, SAF [Student Angler Federation] High School Fishing and FLW College Fishing are exploding right now, and I feel that FLW is doing a fantastic job promoting the high school and college fishing opportunities. It shows in how fast these segments are growing.
I look back 10 years ago, and there were only several hundred of us traveling around the country trying to grow our sport. Now, with all the high school and college teams, there are literally thousands of kids – young men and women – promoting our sport. What does that mean? Well, I believe it means that our sport will continue to grow leaps and bounds, especially in the next five to 10 years.
As I think about all these high school and college kids graduating soon and moving on to positions in corporate America, I realize they’ll be running companies and starting companies of their own, and I know they have the sport of bass fishing in their blood. Consequently, I think we’re going to see a lot more companies outside of the fishing industry supporting our sport. I see corporate involvement and sponsorship levels in the future continuing to rise to new heights.
The other thing that I think is important about high school and college fishing is it really opens up the eyes of non-fishing families and individuals out there and encourages them to learn more about our sport. By seeing, hearing and reading all the news of the high school and college events and all the cool things that are going on at schools around the country, it’s really going to encourage more kids and more families to get involved. In turn, more high schools and colleges will get involved. And that’s how our sport will grow.Walmart FLW Tour pro Scott Martin poses with student members of the Lumberton High School bass fishing team during the 2014 Sam Rayburn Tour event.
On the Sunday after the third event of the FLW Tour season on Sam Rayburn, I helped host a high school tournament on the lake. All I can say is, WOW! With more than 230 teams competing in this event, it was evident to me where our sport is heading.
The thing that I’m really excited about is how professional, clean-cut and put together these youngsters are. They really understand how to promote, how to look good and how to do what it takes to get the job done on and off the water.
After all, this sport is not all about how many fish you catch; it’s about creating an image for our sport that will help grow it. And these young men and women really understand that.
The other thing that was such a blessing to see was all the parents who were there to help out and support their kids. Without the assistance and support from parents, families, drivers and friends, and the sacrifices they make, this sport wouldn’t be where it is.
Tournament bass fishing is going to get more competitive during the next few years because of these kids. With all the resources and support at their disposal, these guys and girls are learning how to fish in just a few years, when it took me more than 10 years.
If you’re interested in starting a high school fishing team or know of a college that would like to start one, contact FLW. The folks there will help you find the resources you need.
For now, I’m looking forward to spending some time with the family as I head back home. Talk to you again soon.