Monday, March 1, 2010

The Rear End Kicking!

We all dream about winning back to back tournaments with 20plus pound bags and beating the field by ten pounds and looking like the stud sticks of all time, and there are times when truth is stranger and harder to believe than fiction. To start the 2010 fishing season a team made fiction look believable and handed out one of the biggest ass whoopins that I can remember seeing in tournament fishing! Gerald Porobil and Daniel Barnes won back to back tournaments on two different lakes with 54lbs of bass and the next closest team had 22lbs in both tournaments. It happened in the MediaBass ( ) Texas I-35 Division in the first two tournaments of this year. The first tournament was on Stillhouse in January the second tournament was on Belton in February. Not exactly the two lakes that jump to mind when you think 25lb bag! However this new team has em figured out so far.
Now sure we can all remember some big wins in a tournament 10 or more years ago, maybe the one on a slot lake, the one team that fished in the monsoon and won by 15lbs in a field of eight teams or the back to back wins sight fishing, but this is different. This is two different lakes, non-sight fishing and both times the field was over twenty boats and loaded with real sticks on the lakes. As a matter of fact the previous anglers of the year in the division had 11lbs in the second tournament and that was third place! If you know anything about Central Texas fishing then you are aware of the local names like Fielding, Barnes, Babcock and Parrish. These guys do not make a habit out of donating and you do not see any team dominate multiple tournaments with ease. It is also where the team of Landan Ware & Keith Combs fought many a tournament battle. Central Texas fishing is about as tough as it gets to get paid in and very few ever dominate a tourney. Winning back to back is hard enough, but making your competition look bad while doing it is unheard of!
This is not the first back to back wins ever. Many in Florida may know of Jeremy Baltzell and Tom Fitzgerald, they won two tourneys back to back last year on Blackwater. However, both tournaments were won by a combined margin of less than a half of a pound. In West Louisiana Pate & Shaw won 3 out of 5 tournaments on two different lakes but in two of the tournaments the field was only 11 & 16 boats. The total margin of victory in all three tournaments was less than fifteen pounds. And sure Lawhon & Lawhon have torn up Lake Talquin in Florida with back to back wins over 11 & 13 teams. The accomplishment of these and many other multi time winners are very impressive. They are so impressive that what they do is make what Barnes and Porobil did look absolutely astonishing!
Here are just a few of the numbers that are behind this enormous accomplishment.
Media Bass held over 160 tournaments in 2009 and will hold that many again in 2010.
Of the 160 tournament less than fifteen teams had multiple wins in any division. Only three had back to back wins.
In the entire year of 2009 in the CenTex division there were only six bags weighed in all year over 20lbs.
At Stillhouse this year Poboril & Barnes weighed in 29.41lbs. The rest of the entire field had 36lbs.
They won Stillhouse by 18.5 lbs! They beat third place by 23lbs!
At Belton they weighed in 24.56 pounds. they won by just three pounds but beat third place by 13.3lbs!
Meaning that they beat the third place finishers in back to back tournaments by over 36lbs!
They beat the last in the money teams by 40lbs!
There were only SIX limits brought to the scales in both tournaments. Remember they had two of them.
No other team had a limit in both tournaments.
Even more astounding is how different teams finished well on the two lakes EXCEPT Barnes & Poboril.
No other team cashed a check at both tournaments.
The average lbs in boat at the tournaments was under 5lbs. These were tough, tough tournaments for everyone except Barnes & Poboril!

The stats go on and on. Just a couple more.

The second place team at each event had no more than one fish in the other event of the year.
No team weighed in more six fish in both tournaments and no team weighed in multiple fish at both events.
The three teams that were in the money with Barnes & Poboril at the first event had a combined weight of 3lbs at the next event!
Talk about laughing all the way to the bank.
They have now won $3180 after entry fees this year. The next best team has won $490.00 and only four teams have made more than their entry fee in the first two events.
Here is one for you real numbers lovers. In the opening events in ten divisions of Media Bass this year (including Deep East, Big "D", Super Teams, Hwy 31, West, Northeast, and many more) the margin of victory in all ten combined was 18lbs. That is what Barnes & Poboril won by in their first event alone!

I had a chance to talk with Daniel Barnes and I expected that I might run into the usual cocky bass fisherman with a we caught em in the mouth story. However, as is often the case my assumption only made me the ass. Daniel is actually a polite guy that was complimentary of other Central Texas sticks like former resident Keith Combs and his own brother Adrian Barnes. He like many of us is a Mike Iaconelli fan. He and his partner fish out an Alpha 199 Legend and he wanted to thank the sponsors that help with his fishing. They include Marine Outlet ( ) of Temple Texas, Victory Tackle, Powertackle and Tightline Premium Fishing Tackle.
Surprisingly the team has only been together for one year and these two wins are their first bigger than the Tuesday night jackpot variety. So what is the big secret? Well it may be two fold. Certainly the team knows the lakes. On Stillhouse Daniel said they fished an area that , "only about two or three other teams know about." On Belton they fished an isolated cove with water temperatures about 5 to 7 degrees warmer than almost anywhere on the lake.
Secondly, you gotta have the bites. On Stillhouse Daniels reported that his partner caught back to back five pounders in an area and then Daniel adjusted boat position threw right back in the same spot with a jig and landed their 9lber! With a 9 and a couple 5's on board you are gonna be tough to beat ANYWHERE. Especially if the no other team on the lake that day puts a limit together.
On Belton the team fished jigs and swimbaits all day. However, all day was really unnecessary. Again on back to back casts in the second straight tournament the team caught quality fish. Daniel had a 3 and 4 lber on his first two casts and was culling 3lbers by 7:30 a.m.! What they believe was 19lbs turned out to be near 25 and again a cruising victory to start the season.
Daniel said that he had found the small spot prefishing and thought they could have 14lbs or so. Somedays you get the "or so!"

It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Daniels and I wish him and his partner continued success. If they keep this up they may run out of room in the garage for the really neat Media Bass Trophies.

I would love to hear of a recent feat that comes close to what these two have done. It is hard to believe even as I go over these numbers again. Two lakes that fished so different and so tough. Half of the field has one fish or a zero and no other team could figure out both lakes. Yet one team dominates both and just embarrasses a whole group of fishermen. If there is a better definition of butt whoopin in tournament bass fishing I cannot wait to write about it here!

UPDATE: Had a fellow write me and add that Daniel Barnes won a tourney on Feb.13, 2010 on Belton also. And then a friend sent me a link to ANOTHER Media tourney held last June and in the first tourney they ever fished together on Stillhouse Barnes & Poboril had 28lbs! UNCLE, I give I couldn't make up a new team, three tourney run like this! 83lbs in three tournaments for a brand new team. If I made it up, you readers would laugh at me!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The bottom half is by definition THE BOTTOM HALF

We all start the year in fishing with the same ideas. Maybe even ideals. We will win every tournament, or at least get paid in every one, or at least break even for the year. How though does one really define success or perhaps failure. Well I have an easy way to determine failure as an overall fisherman.
If you fish a five tournament series (that hits at least three lakes) and you finish more than TWICE in the bottom half of a tournament. You failed! Oh you may make money because you win the other two events but as far as overall fisherman you are a failure for the year. A decent fisherman just doesn't finish in the bottom half of a tournament. Yes it is possible to have boat trouble, really lose every fish in a day or even fall in a lake. However, taking out the extreme possibilities, if you can fish and you chose the tournament trail, you will not finish in the bottom half of any tournament twice.
Look at the finishes of any level, PRO down to local team trail. Good fishermen DO NOT finish in the bottom half of the teams or individuals very often. If you do one of the following is true:
1. You chose the wrong trail.
2. You can't catch fish.
3. You did not practice.
4. You should not go to Vegas!
5. You can only fish your home lake.
6. You like donating.
If you find that you finish in the bottom half of the results three out of five times in a year, please do me a favor and come fish my series next year!! Seriously, consider staying home, you are wasting your time and money. Donate to the Red Cross, not the other fisherman's lure fund.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What about the other boat?

I have been looking at my and many other "best boat" polls and something came across my mind. How many people believe that the brand of boat they own is the "best" boat made. It seems to me that it would almost be a statement against self interest to say that a boat other than the one you own is the best. In the car world I would think very few people own an M5, Audi R8 or Mercedes SL55 so that it would seem easier to say some other car than the one you owned was the best. It would get almost comical if you thought about the number of people that owned a Veryon, SLR or Murcielago. Surely nobody would argue that the Chevy Camaro or Ford Edge was the best car, period. Maybe it stems from the need to justify the purchase. Personally I think the best boat is a paid for 19 footer with a good efi 150 on it.
Also it seems that all bass boats are out the same mold. They are all vee bottom, fiberglass, two seat, approx. 20ft long, engine on the back, trolling motor on bow, rod locker, livewells, etc etc. Imagine again in the car world if every car compared as the best was a two door, v8, RWD, with a/c, stereo, two seater with approx. the same hp. Most would simply argue that "best" was just personal taste in a similar product. So maybe it is fair to say any of the big names is the best.
Perhaps the best has to be better defined. Is speed, fishablility, storage, looks, or some other criteria what makes a bass boat the best?
I think one thing is clear, nearly all bass boats have incredibly good owner advertising. Maybe that's just what happens when you finance something for ten years.

No Back Up Plan. Well Done FLW

In an effort to prove why they are near bankrupt and cannot get a thing right the FLW cancelled the Pro event on the Red River last week. In an unbelievable move they had no back-up plan for the event. It is as if they all have other jobs besides running tournaments. It would be hard to believe that they could keep jobs at a manure plant the way they handle their business. They did not want to cancel the event, probably because they had no back-up plan. However, they were forced to when more than 70 competitors went and complained that the conditions were unsafe. Imagine how ridiculous that meeting must have been after the conditions the FLW let everyone fish in at Lake Falcon last month. The winner at the Falcon event did thousands of dollars worth of damage to his boat getting to and from his fish. (Of course he will claim that on his insurance and make all our premiums go up, but I guess that's okay as long as FLW doesn't have to pay for it.)
FLW certainly knew that NE Texas and Northern Louisiana had received record rainfalls over the past months. It would have been very simple to reschedule the event or perhaps even easier to simply hold the event at Lake Caddo, Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend, or any other lake within two hours of the Red River. FLW indeed did not have a single contingency plan. Meaning that they do not care a bit if professional fisherman get to compete at their lively hood, much less care if fans wanted to see an event or participate in fantasy fishing.
Every person in the position of tournament director at the FLW should resign today and let the fishing industry bring in some competent, aggressive and educated people to begin to rebuild the professional fishing industry. This is not a small decision to simply cancel a tournament, this is an obvious bout of sleeping at the wheel. Fishermen deserves so much more. Imagine if they simply cancelled a Nascar race and did not make up the event. It is a sad day when the tournament directors cannot get a single thing right.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"You can't fish harder than I do..."

"You gotta just bear down and fish harder." This was the recent advice of a neighbor who "used" to fish tournaments about what to do when the weather got bad. Jimmy disliked the whole thought and knew that the neighbor was just a local pond fisherman now and would never understand how hard tournament fishermen fish today. Tournaments were a lot different in the 60"s & 70"s but now a guy had to be good to win and Jimmy planned on winning.
He had been to the academy store a few miles from his house more times than he would admit. A few lunch rendezvous and even a quick swing in before heading home were probably the norm not the exception. Today he looked at all the Zoom products searching for that perfect lizard color. He thought about the old timer that had told him he used to kill em on purple chartreuse. He remembered a few years back when he caught a bunch on muscadine. But that was spring and on a Carolina rig this was late fall and perhaps he would just go with green pumpkin. He was noticing that the in house brand was sure taking up a lot of shelf space and wondered if they would even be bringing the other stuff back. He thought he might go out to Bass Pro but it was a long drive and he really wanted to beat his wife home and throw his new purchases in the closet before a discussion took place.
The tournament was two Saturday's away but Jimmy likes to be ready early. Leaving Academy he decided that maybe a trip to BPS would be okay if he didn't spend anything else on tackle before the tourney. Arriving at BPS he parked close and marveled at the amount of money spent on the pond and then he went inside. There he ran into him. He looked cocky as ever and Jimmy was in no mood for the latest story of a break off or any other excuse. Phil started with..

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Finish second and you'll never make money bass fishing locally.

There are professional bass anglers. They fish with FLW & BASS and are dedicated to spending 200 days a year on the water and are at least partially funded by some corporation to advertise products or services. This article is not about those fishermen. Frankly touring professional fishermen represent less than 1% of tournament fishermen and have little to do with the sport except push products onto the other 99% of people that compete in local bass tournaments.
Please understand that there are some really good fishermen that just fish within 3 to 4 hours of their house. Some of the best sticks in the country will never be heard of farther than a tank of gas from where they call home. The average tournament bass angler will never win more than 5,000 dollars in any single event or more than 20,000 in a year. If they do it will often be due to a single tournament win.
A tournament bass fisherman must be willing to compete for something other than money. Looking at the numbers it is fool's folly to even think about making money bass fishing.

Take a guy that is going to fish two trails in a given year. The first is a pretty big regional deal with entry fees of $300 per event and the second is a more local trail with entry fees of $150.00 per event. Our fisherman has a good partner and will only have to pay half expenses. Truck and boat payments will be considered just part of being a fisherman and not specifically needed for tournament fishing. (Although I wonder why anyone would need a 21foot bass boat with a 250 and twin HDS graphs to just hobby fish.) Also all fishing gas will be just for fishing, no hotel dollars added and only an additional $500.00 per year in extras to include all tackle, line and accessories that a hobby fisherman would not buy. We all know that $500.00 is awful light for all those lake specific "gotta haves" that we all buy the week before a tourney.

Let's say the regional draws a strong 250+ boats to every event and the local draws 40+ per event. The payout structure in both will be paying back one in six places. (A lot of trails pay even less to up the first place prize and create a lottery mentality in the entrants)

If you finish in the top 50 out of 300 in the regional and top 10 out of 60 in the local trail you get a check.
The expenses for the trails are as follows:

Yearly membership fees: $35.00 & $30.00
Six Regional Entry fees: $900.00
Six Local Entry fees: $450.00
Tournament Extras: $500.00

(These are 1/2 as these are team events.)

Total Tournament Expenses for one year of local tournament fishing: $ 1915.00

Let's say that our fisherman is in the money 8 out of twelve times during the year and finishes as high as third on the regional trail and second on the local trail. Finishes third in angler of the year in the regional and finishes fourth in points in the local. How did he come out financially?
These are actual results from two real trails and two actual fishermen in 2008 & 2009:

Event 1 Finish in third out of 278 win $ 1000.00
Event 2 Finish in top 15% and win $300.00.
Event 3 Finish in top 10% and win $300.00
Event 4 Finish in top 20% and are seven spots out of the money.
Event 5 Finish 67th out of over 180 boats and no money.
Event 6 Finish outside the money in the last event.

Total winnings: $1600.00 Points Finish: 3rd out of over 300 teams that competed in the year.
Notes: The winnings are half actual check because it is a team event(the expenses were just half the entry fee also), The team never finished in bottom half of a tourney during the year.

NET; As for the regional events, after entry fees, membership dues and a conservative $250.00 in tournament extras for this trail the grand total is:

Net winnings: $415.00 Dollars.

I was gonna go into as much detail with the local trail but the numbers were very similar.
The team was in top half of field five out of six times. cashed three checks for $400.00 (that is per person actual winning $800) and finished fourth in AOY points.

So for their fine efforts in the local trail each man lost $330.00.00 dollars.

So for their incredibly good fishing that included 8 checks and top 5 finishes in AOY in regional and local tours the team MADE $85.00 dollars per man! And they did better than 99% of the other teams!!!

And of course this is all using the rather ludicrous assumption that tournament fishing brings no extra gas, hotel, tackle, license, breakage cost above $250.00 per trail. As well as the truck and boat payment being left out!
It actually really surprised me at how badly the money played out in tournaments when I did this research. If you didn't outright win a large event you lost money. I could not find a single instance where a fisherman made money just finishing above average. And in no instance did I find a fisherman that made money just beating 75% of the field every time.
I am going to start a small series of blogs that use actual fisherman's results from the last few years in series from Florida to Texas and look at how they did financially versus finish and point standings.

It is my belief that less than 5% of local fisherman make a dime and most do not make a cent without a tournament win.

If you can contribute something different please feel free to comment and tell us who you are, where you fish and how much you made last year.

At this time I have to be honest I think local tournament bass fishing must be about bragging rights, competition and ego because it sure isn't about the money. Which begs the question, why not just have trophy tournaments? Must be more.........................

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Random Thoughts and upcoming blogs...

Just a few things that I was thinking about....

Turn your damn headlights off on the ramp.

Never fish more tournaments in a month than the number of times you buy your wife flowers in a year.

Is O.J. still in jail?

The Monkey Box is a funny name for a fishing area.

Who the heck named it Green Pumpkin?

Can anyone ever outrun Usain Bolt?

How do so many bass grow to 13 inches?

Stop letting trash fly out of your boat.

If you have a reaction to something you read then it's a good read.

It is so scary when a rattletrap fish jumps out of the water.

Why don't practice bass come off the hook?

If flourocarbon is invisible why does it matter what size I use?

Kevin VanDam may make a living from bass fishing if he keeps it up.

The NASCAR race for the chase is now boring.

Forrest Gump is smarter than most people I know.

Enjoy this ride, it's a one way ticket!

A few upcoming blogs....

"Beat 80% of the field every time and you'll go BROKE."

"No you can't make a living fishing."

Interviews upcoming with Jim Tutt, Todd Castledine & Ron Shuffield

"There is no magic bait."