Al Campbell, Field Editor

August 11th, 2003

What If B.A.S.S. Tournament Anglers Started Flyfishing?
By Al Campbell

I recently read about a fly fishing tournament planned for some pristine water in Idaho. That brought up the thought of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society's (BASS) tournaments you see on TV. Trying to merge the image of BASS style tournaments with flyfishing caused an overload in my brain. OK, maybe I overload easily, but the image I saw in my mind wasn't pretty at all.

Can you imagine what it would be like if the BASS folks started a flyfishing tournament tour? Can your mind begin to grasp the changes this might cause to the flyfishing world? Can you envision the changes, and would they be acceptable to any of us? It's hard to imagine, but I tried, and this is what I saw.

The camera zooms in as Mr. Rolling Martian hops on his 300 horsepower, Ranger bank-skipper ATV to get a jump on the rest of the competition and power to the first riffle on the Henry's Fork. Helmet secured, Rolling Martian signature megabox fly vest zipped, and Strike Kingsly super tungsten river gripper waders pulled high, he takes off in a cloud of dust. A film crew is waiting as he skids to a stop just inches from the stream bank and half runs to the back of his Ranger ATV to grab his pre-rigged, super titanium, quartz timing adjusted, Rolling Martian signature, fast action, bugger-flipping, flystick from its rod holder.

The screen flips to Overlander Wilson standing in a riffle clad in his hot orange, signature, Fly Pro Shops Flymaster jump suit with built in breathable waders. His signature Overlander fly vest has extra space to hold the endorsement patches while allowing enough room for twenty oversized flybox pockets that hold all his neon Ronny Mann super buggers with an assortment of chamois craw trailers dipped in super juice. He is demonstrating for the camera how he pegs his tungsten half-ounce beads a few feet above the fly to allow for better action.

The camera flips to Jimmy Austin arguing with Frank Barker about why he likes the battery he uses on his Ranger ATV. One guy says it's more durable while the other guy insists it's more reliable. You can clearly see the Jimmy Austin signature Humminbugger, laser guided, bottom zoomer, camera angle, fish locator mounted on the handlebars of his ATV. That piece of fly-fishing electronic wizardry will tell you where the fish are, what the hatch is and the best fly to use in this situation. It also has the Harry Burgler color system built in to detect subtle changes in insect color and match them to the custom array of Fly Pro Shops super dries with ionized floatation qualities.

Meanwhile, Billy Waltz just set the hook on a 12-inch "hawg" rainbow and had to step back to keep his balance. He also had to duck to avoid a fish in the face. We are now treated to some grunting and groaning as Billy reels the fish in on his Waltz signature, "HawgBow Slammer" FlyStick made by Strike Kingsly in seven magnificent colors. Eventually the 'bow is landed and placed in the Strike Kingsly portable "superflo" live-well to keep it alive until weigh-in. Did I fail to mention that Strike Kingsly is a major sponsor of the Billy Waltz "Hawg Hookin" TV flyfishing show?

Back to Rolling Martian who has just "stuck" a huge 18-inch rainbow. "Talk about a hawg!" he gasps as he grunts under the strain of such a huge fish. He slips his patented, titanium, Rolling Martian signature "lipping glove" on with his teeth while telling the viewers how much he treasures his 50lb test "firebraid" GSP leaders made by Fly Pro Shops just for him. And, he describes in detail the helicopter-tail, mayfly scented super bugger he designed and used to hook this "hawg" of a rainbow.

Frank Barker has just hooked a large brown trout that might win him the "big hawg" trophy for this tournament. He tells the viewers he doesn't have to worry about break-offs because he is using the new Stramm, super kevlar leaders he designed for tough tournament fishing like this. He goes on to describe the stonefly scented mega-monster hellgrammite nymph he designed and is using, with the glow-in-the-dark, caddis larvae scented, pork-maggot trailer. How does he keep from grunting like the other guys as he strains under the weight of such a huge fish?

The camera switches to an official who is telling us that Jimmy Austin will have 4 ounces deducted from his total fish weight because he was caught doing the San Juan shuffle. It will probably knock him out of the top ten in this tournament. Too bad. Jimmy is the only guy on the tournament who has perfected the double overhead, triple tuck, quad-haul cast. He is also the only guy generous enough to describe just how it is done on his TV show "Jimmy Austin Outdoors." The crowd seems to like this guy even though he has a funky haircut.

I sit up in bed with beads of sweat rolling off my forehead. What a nightmare! That's the last time I eat pepperoni pizza before bed while watching a mix of flyfishing and bass fishing shows on the tube. The thought of what I just dreamt is akin to the "Friday the 13th" movies. Maybe fly fishing tournaments aren't such a good idea after all. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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