I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

• Why I Won't Attend the Classic Weigh-in

In 2009, the Bassmaster Classic came to Shreveport and anglers had their turn at the mighty Red River. Records were broken. Fun was had by all.

Well, not all of us had the best time.

I attended one takeoff at the Red River Marina, daily visits to the expo at the Shreveport Convention Center, and every day of the weigh in at the Century Tel. Most of these events were enjoyable, but all that went into trying to attend the weigh in left me angry and disappointed in both the organization of the event and the behavior of fellow fans. In light of these bad experiences, I probably won't be attending any of the weigh ins. As a bass fishing blogger, this might hinder what I can offer my readers, but my readers deserve to know why I am not going to be posting much about the weigh in.

Parking at the Century Tel was spacious and plentiful and because there was enough room for everyone to park, attendance records were broken. At the start of the weigh in, someone actually announced that fire codes would not allow any more spectators to cram into the seating inside the giant hall. However, if you attended the weigh in or watched the video coverage after the fact, you might remember a black helicopter flying over spectators waiting outside the Century Tel. While the coverage made things seem exciting, those of us on the ground were less than enthusiastic. In fact, we grew incredibly frustrated at having to wait longer than the scheduled time people would be allowed to enter. We were really nothing more than cattle waiting in our herd while Century Tel security wandered around with confused looks on their faces. The Dock Dogs entertainment which preceded the weigh in distracted most of us for a while, but once that all wrapped up, we were left to talk amongst ourselves. It was most definitely not fun and the added frustration almost resulted in a stampede of fans trying to squeeze their way beyond the barricade bottleneck. People did push and shove. People were not terribly patient.

Once inside, observing the actual weigh in on stage was easy for the most part. However, several spectators kept walking up to the rails from the outside hallways, standing in the way. As someone who was positioned to take photos for all of you, having someone stand in the line of sight between myself and the stage made capturing important dramatic moments next to impossible. While Century Tel security made an effort to nudge people away from the rails in the walkways between seating sections, those efforts were often inadequate.

After one of the weigh ins, I walked out to my vehicle to find a dent in my rear bumper. Someone had obviously backed into me and skipped leaving any kind of a note or apology. Once in my vehicle, getting out of the parking lot was something of a nightmare. Anyone who has ever attended a fireworks show or sporting event might be familiar with how everyone tries to get out of a parking lot all at once. Police presence was almost nonexistent, unlike many events I have attended elsewhere. Directing traffic is an essential part of dealing with crowds like this and that kind of support was lacking. The frustration also resulted in my overhearing racist remarks being directed at one of the hired bus drivers who chauffeured special guests, angler's family members, and those who were shuttled from the expo to the weigh in.

I also sat next to a pro angler on the bus and for whatever reason, he was rather calloused and cold when I tried briefly talking with him. He was having conversations with other people on the bus. It was a very strange interaction to have with someone I immediately admired sitting right next to me. I still can't explain his behavior to this day.

People did not really conduct themselves in an orderly and respectful fashion and because of that experience, I am less inclined to attend the actual weigh in. I will most definitely attend the expo and I might opt to take the bus to the weigh in instead of driving myself, however I think I can live without seeing each angler come on stage to present the catch to all of us.

Maybe Shreveport organizers and BASS have learned from the mistakes of the past, but I'm not at all optimistic about those kinds of changes. If you are attending the big show, make sure you take the Golden Rule with you because it was an awfully tense situation to endure. We were all there to have a good time, but obviously, several spectators had other plans.

If you come to Shreveport, enjoy the show. I might see you wandering around on the expo floor. If you have a table at the expo, I'm going to be walking around, checking out your gear, making mental notes and taking photos of things which interest me. Consider me a source of free publicity. Last time around, I wrote good things about specific exhibitors like Vicious Fishing, for example. That kind of endorsement is a priceless tool in the world of fishing. Let's all have a good time this year.


mdtolic said...

What a bummer. I would probably feel the same way as you though. I hate inconsiderate people; not to mention racists.

It sounds like maybe they weren't prepared for the amount of people that showed up though. You'd think they would have learned from that. BASS is under new ownership now too.

Jianna Gonzalez said...

Keep on blogging.

Armadillo Pepper said...

Sorry to hear about the lack of crowd management. I would have not enjoyed that either. On the plus side, it is nice to see that bass fishing has become so popular since I first started in the late 70's.

Bruce Edward Litton said...

I attended the Pittsburgh 2005 BASS Classic weigh-in. At the time I was appalled at the distractions of loud, gaudy music and light shows of various trivial, but intense sorts. All this was by design of course. It's an attempt to win the awe and compliance of spectators and has little to do with fishing. I was so relieved in the morning to witness bassmen actually in boats for the second day of competition.

http://www.northcarolinabassfishing.org said...

Sounds like a bummer experience. I like to be around bass fishermen and hear and share the stories, but...this report doesn't speak well about us. What's with the black helicopter, you reckon? Sounds like the attitude of the planners was off and planning was sloppy. Best be on the water than in that kind of mess. Bass Masters is a big deal in this realm. Hope they will consider and do better in the future.