Bass University- Much More than Just “Boat show” Seminar
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend The Bass University in Rosemont (Chicago, IL). I have to admit going into the weekend I was a little unsure that I would learn much in a seminar type atmosphere. I never could have imagined how in-depth with details and secrets that the speakers would go in a public forum. Over the 30 years of my bass fishing existence, I have read almost every magazine, book and seen most of the videos available. I have attended most local and regional tackle shows to hear seminars, and I have been a co-angler and a Marshall during elite tourneys to learn while on the water. Much to my wife’s dismay I spend many evenings surfing fishing related websites reading and watching videos to try to learn something new about the sport of bass fishing. I figure if there is much to be learned that is available off the water, I have been exposed to it at some time or another. You might say I have a problem, but for me outside of family and work fishing is my #1 passion. It was with some reservation of wasted time and money that I drove the 3+ hours early Saturday morning, with no idea the exposure to 6 Professionals.
On arrival- it was immediately evident that this was not just a glorified “boat show” seminar. The pros were mingling and available throughout the weekend, for general and very specific questions about everything Bass. There were also reps from Lowrance, Hydro Wave and Power Pole there to explain anything you wanted to know about their products. Lowrance’s new Structure mapping software looks incredible, and the speed of the processor has improved. I learned some great shortcuts I can use on my own to improve my efficiency on the water as well as with side and down imaging. Power Pole has some exciting new features for 2012, and the Hydro wave was too good for me to pass up with the show discount.
Day 1 featured Ike, Ott Defoe and Kevin Short. Classic champ and AOY Ike was very impressive with his discussion on Tourney preparation and using crank baits as search tools to augment historical research, map and on the water study to turn seasonal patterns into winning bags. His other hour was spent discussing soft plastics and various applications, retrieves, and features of many soft plastics including the relatively new Havoc Products from Berkley. 2011 Elite ROY Ott Defoe had a great discussion on seasonal patterns in Rivers including my home waters of the Mississippi River. This added a local flavor for me and from experience it is sometimes tough to get information on river fishing in general. “K- Pink” was not to be outdone, and for a guy wearing pink sure was impressive during talks on Square bill crank baits and jigs. He went in-depth on strengths and weaknesses of various designs of crank baits, bills, and jigs. Each of them stayed around all day and were available for individual questions regarding anything. At the end of the day, the 3 pros along with wired 2 fish host Terry Brown and Bass East Editor Bill Decoteau answered group questions. Many of them were available throughout the evening for casual discussion, and 2 lucky winners won “dinner with the pros”. Learning went well into the evening as groups of anglers shared information and phone numbers, and fun was had by all.
Day 2 featured Pete Gluszek, Randy Howell and Fred Roumbanis. Boom Boom gave enlightening info on several baits and techniques and a second seminar on his “Power Finesse” fishing which added a new angle to the use of spinning rods in power fishing. Of course frogs came up and his insight into throwing frogs in a different place than traditional “frogging” was eye- opening. Pete gave a talk with local (northern) flavor on smallmouth bass and a very in-depth discussion on the shaky head technique. Randy injected plenty of humor and knowledge into fishing rattle traps and a second talk on top water fishing was fabulous. He presented some lures few of us had seen or used from Molix (an Italian company fairly new to the US Bass fishing scene). He also revealed that his boat will be auctioned off again in 2012 with proceeds benefitting the Kings Home for battered women and children. On day 2 the anglers seemed a little more “tight lipped” with their rivals on tour, often asking the other to step out of the room while discussing new baits or techniques. The pros on day 2 also spent lunch with all the youth present (Pizza with the pros) and try as I might they would not let me stay for that part- the only part of the weekend where the pros were not available to the more seasoned anglers in the group.
As the day ended, what I thought might have been a temporary reprieve from cabin fever has only fueled more. I was shocked at the availability and affability of the pros. They honestly helped each and every person in attendance learn something to improve on the water performance for 2012. Obviously, there was some review for those of us with “the addiction” but in each of the 8 sessions (and the informal after hours sessions also) I gained some small or large piece of information I truly believe will help make me a better angler. Throughout the weekend there were tons of give-away prizes including rods, reels, bulk line, discounted product and some pretty sweet looking lures. For the price of a rod, reel or a tank of gas, the program offers much more than you would imagine and I plan on attending in the future without a doubt.
I would strongly recommend The Bass University to fishermen of all levels. The experience these guys have to offer cannot be duplicated by book, magazine, or internet study. Most of us “weekenders” simply don’t have the time to test lures and techniques like the guys who do this for a living. We can all stand to learn something and to have a little fun and make some new friends in the process goes well beyond the price tag for the weekend! Now I just have to pray for spring so I can get the Dobyns rods spooled up to take those who didn’t attend to school!-- JJ Patton (via email), who participated in a Bass University seminar.