Spring came early this year but not soon enough for the avid angler in Georgia.
As the air temperature warms from the sun's rays, and the water temperatures follow suit, the anxiety almost paralyzes local fisherman (and women) until finally their "cabin fever" is broken. Soon thereafter, the stories of the one that got away or you-should-have-been-here-yesterday cliches begin to fill the air within the subculture of tournament bass fishing.
Fishing has become an $80 billion industry with bass fishing leading the way by a more than a 4-1 margin. This once solitary and relaxing activity has now become one of the nation's most highly sought after professions.
Yes, I did say professions. Incomes of some of the more successful angler's far exceed $1 million annually when you consider tournament winnings or purses and product endorsements. On any given weekend the national and some local outdoor networks are flooded with programs promoting fishing and most importantly their products and sponsors.
Anglers are seen on these programs showcasing their sponsors' logos, colors, and now even boats are being "wrapped" as mobile billboards...no this is no longer your grandfather's version of fishing.
More than 60 major colleges and universities throughout the country not only offer competitive fishing as elective courses but field fishing teams that compete nationally in sanctioned tournaments. Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, all have bass fishing teams that draw meaningful crowds to their weigh-ins.
In order to be competitive in today's environment one must be able to pattern the fishes movement based on not only the phase of the moon but, based on water clarity, PH factor, barometric pressure, etc. Thousands of dollars are spent on different lures called crankbaits, jerkbaits, trick worms, in varying colors that go by names like watermelon red, cotton candy, green pumpkin and sexy shad. The electronics used to find these species referred to as largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass retail in the thousands of dollars and we haven't begun to calculate the cost of rods, reels, and of course the 85 mile per hour bass boat.
There are so many other ways one could opt to spend his or her hard earned money but the allure of catching the biggest bass of a lifetime can't be captured in dollars and cents. The fond memories of your dad and or grandad taking you fishing are priceless.
Take a kid fishing and return the favor or at least smile and wave as I pass you on my way to Lake Oconee, Jackson, or West Point Lake.