A Weekend at “The U” – The Bass University

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by Dan O’Sullivan

John Murray at a The Bass University Breakout Session -  photo by Dan O'Sullivan (Custom)

John Murray at a The Bass University Breakout Session – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

In major college athletics, the term “The U” refers to the University of Miami, and typically in reference to some of the great Hurricanes teams of the late 80’s and 90. I can still vividly remember the anger I felt watching them beat my Sooners way too easily.

While the original “U” was most definitely not centered around academia, but rather excellence on the field, in bass fishing, our version of “The U” is definitely about the learning.

This past weekend, for the sixth time, I have been able to attend a session of The Bass University, an organization run by Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek. In 2009, recognizing that there was a lack of structured educational settings in the world of bass fishing, the longtime friends and professional anglers teamed up to start TBU.

Since their first year, and their first trip to Sacramento in 2010 – where a company I was working with helped put on the event locally – I have been to six sessions of The Bass University. Besides the one in my former home town, I’ve been to Frankfort, Kent., Worcester, Mass twice and now the Boxborough, Mass. event twice.

Fred Roumbanis Shares Some of his favorite Tackle Modification Trick - photo by Dan O'Sullivan (Custom)

Fred Roumbanis Shares Some of his favorite Tackle Modification Trick – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

I was, and have been truly excited to attend TBU in New England because it has done several things on a personal level, along with the professional side as well. Coming to New England has allowed me to connect with the area that my dad was born and raised in.

While I wouldn’t want to live here full time, it’s really nice to see this area and connect with it. It has also introduced me to my great friend Rob Lever, who not only helps AdvancedAngler in many ways, but he has become like family; and we get to have fun together developing the Massole series of videos. I’ve also enjoyed meeting the people that make up the fishing industry that display their wares at the New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo – where The Bass University is held.

From a professional level, The Bass University does one very important thing, and it revolves around the attendees – it provides me hope for our industry.

At each of the TBU events that I’ve been to, I meet some students that are completely absorbed in bass fishing, and they are using the TBU opportunity to get more enjoyment out of their pastime, and in some cases make plans toward a potential career in fishing. The really amazing thing is that I’ve met students that are everywhere on the age spectrum from 8 to 80 years old. The current trend in bass fishing is toward the youth; as it should be, but it is encouraging to me to see so many older students wanting to learn more about their sport.

Shaw Grigsby Teaches the Students about Dropshotting - photo by Dan O'Sullivan (Custom)

Shaw Grigsby Teaches the Students about Dropshotting – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

As an angler myself, I love hearing the “professors” speak. TBU does a great job of coordinating the pros who are going to teach at each event. Iaconelli and Gluszek are typically each teaching at the events, and they bring in four more pros to do two sessions each. At each two-day event, there will be a total of six of the best anglers in the world sharing tips to help us become better anglers ourselves.

At this event, Iaconelli, John Murray and Carl Jocumsen spoke on Saturday, and Gluszek, Fred Roumbanis and Shaw Grigsby were the Sunday instructors. In the past, I’ve sat through tremendous, informative seminars with Gary Klein, Ish Monroe, John Crews, Ott DeFoe, Randy Howell, Brandon Palaniuk, Justin Lucas and so many others. One of my favorite seminars was with Northern smallmouth specialist Joe Balog. His sessions at last year’s event were very well conducted, informative and quite entertaining.

My favorite piece of each day however are the afternoon round table discussion periods. These are the final sessions of each day, and the faculty for the day fields questions from the students. It’s always fun to hear the questions and see how the pro responds, having to think on his feet. While all of the seminars are great, the Q&A sessions get really lively, and it’s neat to see the thought processes of the students as they work out all of the things they’ve learned over the weekend.

Pete Gluszek - The Dean of Bass University - photo by Dan O'Sullivan (Custom)

Pete Gluszek – The Dean of Bass University – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

But, like I said, the students of The Bass University really give me a sense of hope for our industry. As television coverage with The Bassmasters, FLW, and Major League Fishing, along with the shows produced by individual pros have increased, so has the spectrum of the sport’s participants.

There are few times each year that the spectrum if more widely displayed than at a TBU session. The age range, and socioeconomic range allow us to see the popularity of the sport, as well as the anglers in such brilliant display.

I am forever grateful that in my job, I get the chance to work in an industry that affords me such close access to the true expert practitioners of the skill sets I desire. But, no place or event that I attend each year does it in such a way as The Bass University.

When we attend an expo like a Bassmaster Classic, Forrest Wood Cup or the likes, the emphasis is often on sales and marketing; as it should be. However, at a TBU session, the emphasis is on teaching and sharing. Sure, the commercial must be a part of it, but the anglers invest a lot of time in their lesson plans, and put teaching at the center of it.

The Bass University holds several events throughout the country each winner, and is a program that can help make any of us better anglers. A two-day tuition plan runs around $150, and there are few other venues – if any, for that kind money, that we can get the kind of access, and education, that The Bass University provides.

Check them out at http://thebassuniversity.com.