From a Fan

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story and photos courtesy of a fan – Rob Lever

If you were to take a poll among anglers throughout the country, there would be one thing that all weekend anglers share; the love of the sport and the ability to share your passion for fishing with the people around you. Generally speaking, the people around you are your family, and most of us have acquired our love of fishing from them. I grew up in New England were the love of sports reaches a whole new level. While most New Englanders live and die with the moves of the Red Sox or the Patriots, there is a passionate few who center their life around the outdoors.

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I was lucky enough to have a dad who loved the outdoors and loved waking up at God awful hours of the morning just to catch what I thought was a stinky creature.

Some of my earliest memories are getting up at the crack of dawn to wait in a small aluminum boat until the official start of opening day. Once the sun would come up, it would be time to cast out a line. It always seemed like an eternity waiting for that sun to rise and then it was an even longer wait to catch the first fish. We were fishing for trout at the time, but I will always remember one morning when I made what seemed to be a big mistake.

Dad always told me to watch out for loops in my line, and being a scatter-brained kid – of course I didn’t. I tied up my dad’s brand new Rapala and threw out the longest cast I had ever thrown. Sure enough, right after the lure hit the water, my dad noticed I hadn’t fixed a loop and the line was a tangled mess. He took my pole and started to strip line so we could try to salvage the cast.

I’m sure at that moment my father was mad at me, but he didn’t show it. No matter how mad I made him on the water, my dad was always grateful to have me with him. While trying to untangle the line, my dad finally decided to cut the line and I had my use my hands to reel in the lure. Wouldn’t you know it, while bringing the line with my hands, I caught my first bass. More than twenty years later, I’m sure my dad doesn’t remember that day; but, I do, and I still have that old Rapala sitting in my tackle box.

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My father and I share a new fishing bond these days. He has moved on from fresh water, and is an avid saltwater angler. We now spend time in his nice center console trying to catch striper. Every time we fish in his boat, I feel like a little kid again. A little kid who still sees his father as the best fisherman in the world. He still teaches me something new about fishing every time we go out. I will forever be grateful to my father for everything he has done for me, but none more than passing on the love of fishing.

The lessons we learn growing up fishing with our parents prove to be the basis for the things we want to learn about fishing latter in life. “Never stop learning” is the motto of a great organization that I’m lucky enough to be a part of these days. The Bass University is a wonderful series of events brought to you by professional anglers Pete Gluszek and Mike Iaconelli.

Over the years, I have become a huge fan of the sport of Bass Fishing. Fishing books, magazines, and TV shows have completely taken over my life. Knowledge is important, and I have taken advantage of every outlet there is to expand my level of fishing.

This quest for knowledge brings me back to my dad. Two years ago for Christmas, he gave me a Bassin’ Magazine. On the back of the magazine there was an ad for The Bass University. The ad said that I could learn from none other than “Ike”, the guy I watched every week on City Limits Fishing. How could I pass that up? I gladly paid the price of admission and waited for months for that day to get here.

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The first morning of class, I showed up an hour early and got the best seat in the house. I received a book for taking notes and a schedule of the day’s events. On that first day, I listened as Iaconelli taught a class about breaking down new water. Chart in hand, I highlighted areas on my home lake that I knew I would hit first thing in the spring. I will not bore you with the other topics that day, but I will say John Crews gave a great lesson on crankbait fishing that day.

During the session before lunch Gerald swindle came up and told us all, he couldn’t even read the map Mike was teaching about. He was there to talk to us about the things that we encounter every day on the water. The class all found out that Swindle had something in common with every weekend angler, he was a hot head! Swindle told us to put an elastic band on our wrist and to snap it every time we got upset. I had welts on my wrist for weeks after taking his advice!

That first day at BU was great. The biggest thing I got out of the class was being able to speak with other students. BU students are there to learn and also meet other fans of the sport. During one of my many conversations that day, I heard that the driver who was supposed bring Shaw Grigsby and Fred Roumbanis to the airport had bailed. This was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.

I volunteered to drive them into Boston at 4:40am the Monday after the seminar. Shaw and Fred both wanted to sleep in the car, but I wouldn’t let them. I asked questions about baits, techniques, and even about their families. This was all I needed to further my love of the sport. Despite how tired both men were, they were both willing to tell me what I wanted to know. This is a common thing with every pro I have met.

Fast forward to this year. I enjoyed Bass University so much; I now help run their web site. Being part of the BU staff has put me in contact with some of the world’s top pros and outdoor journalists. Each person I meet is another person I can learn from. This is of course the goal of the Dean of the Bass University Pete Gluszek.

Gluszek is an FLW pro who believes in the University and works tireless hours to bring the events to anglers across the country. Every BU class has six top pros sharing their favorite techniques. After every session each student has the opportunity to have some one on one time with the pros. This is what people do not understand about the Bass University. BU gives you the opportunity to ask questions not only to the pros, but also to other students.
I have met some great friends through The University and look forward to meeting many more.

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During my short time working with BU, many great things have happened. This winter we were in Worcester, Mass. for both a BU and also a sportsman show. After the first day of classes, two students won the right to have dinner with the pros from that day. That day at BU was particularly special because not only did we have three great pros, but we were also joined by outdoor journalist Don Barone. I had grown up reading Don, and was so excited he chose to sit next to me during dinner.

We spoke about his favorite athletes over the years and why he decided to cover B.A.S.S at this point in his career. Pro fishermen all share the love of the sport. They live hard lives on the road and many do not make it. This is what Barone loves about the sport; the personalities are what he told me he loved most to write about. It was a true honor to be able to share my conversations with him, and this will always be one of the highlights of my life.
A prime example of the great love of the sport that the pros have is Grigsby. He is a legend in the sport and gives one of the best seminars you will ever see. If you ever get a chance to see him speak, one thing is very obvious. He is like a little kid when he talks about fishing. His enthusiasm is second to none, and can be infectious.

During his sight fishing seminar, he gets excited and will start telling students about things that he has encountered. Every story he tells is amazing, and his enthusiasm to teach his craft is amazing. This year, we were in Suffern, NY. Shaw and I were sitting in the foyer waiting for another speaker’s class to end. He let me take his rod, and walked me through pitching. I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to learn pitching from a master? I couldn’t wait to tell my wife! At that moment, he could have been resting, but he decided to spend a few minutes with me. This meant the world to me. The last thing I asked him before he walked away was to say what we have all heard him say a million times on One Last Cast. He turned to me and said “What a big ole Pig”.

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These moments I have shared with you are common occurrences to fans of the sport. This is why I’ve decided to start a blogging web site for us fans. The energy that pros share is just a small part of our love of the sport. We all have stories and tips that every angler can learn from. Bass Much is a site that will be for the weekend angler and fan of the sport. I encourage other anglers to write in and share their stories.

What is Bass Much? Bass Much is when you have what we call the affliction. The sickness that all fisherman share. The bond that bass fisherman have, even when their meeting only lasts for a short period of time. As fisherman, we all go to a store and buy every last lure that we caught the big one on. We change line, sharpen hooks, and arrange our tackle by color. Does your wife know in the spring, that she will not see you until the fall? Do you stay up all night thinking about your first cast? Do you work all day just for that perfect pattern? Then, you Bass Much! Please write me at rlever@bassmuch.comand share you stories. We can all learn from each other and help others by introducing our love of the sport to the next generation.