The Observer

I have to apologize for a friend of mine. He really can't help himself sometimes. He's simply a product of his environment.

My friend, Leftie, lives out in California (the Left Coast in my mind) and he runs a little po-dunk website you might have seen, probassanglers.com. The best thing about his site is his "Brushpile" column, where he cuts loose with his Left Coast humor and wit, goes off on rants, and generally speaks his twisted mind. I like that part; his twisted little mind. Sometimes he makes sense, at times he doesn't have a clue, but he sometimes has some good ideas. In Leftie's mind, a spade is a spade; no sense in sugar coating anything. A man of my own heart.

It was with a little smirk that I read his 7/13 entry regarding the alleged demise of the co-anglers in the Elite Series. Hold up right there, Tex. I said the "alleged" demise. We won't know for sure until BASS makes their big, big show announcement at ICAST on Wednesday. (If I was in Vegas, I'd drop a dollar on the co's going bye-bye, though.)

Leftie goes on to describe a bank fishing circuit that will be formed by the disgruntled allegedly former cos. The part of his rambling that really got me was when he referenced another site for the disgruntled alleged former cos CosAreTheReelPros.com (not a real site, don't even try it). This hit one of my ragged little nerves because of some flack that I had taken last season over a couple of pieces regarding co-anglers. The first was The Next Step and the second was The CoAnglerator. These pieces were thrown out there in the bits-and-bytes stream to raise some awareness to a situation that was occurring on the Elite Trail. Not good, not bad, just what's up. A spade is a spade.

Did I get some feedback on these pieces? Hell yes. Still do. It's amazing how people work. You drop a little something out there that they can relate to, maybe appreciate; they nod their head, maybe chuckle a little, and go on about their business. Drop something out there they don't agree with and they will rip you a new one in a heartbeat. The feedback on these two pieces was probably 60/40, with 60 agreeing that, yes, Houston, we have a situation here. The 40 percent who didn't agree felt that I was basically the Antichrist of bassin'. Whatever.

I wish I had saved the email that really stuck out from the rest. I had a little change in email programs somewhere along in there and lost a few things. This one was head and shoulders above many of the mouth breathers that couldn't string together six words to form a sentence (if you can put together six or more words to form a sentence, don't get offended, I'm not referring to you). The gist of this email was centered around the fact that the co-anglers were the ones who made sure that money showed up in my mailbox every month. Huh?

I didn't quite understand how he arrived at that conclusion, so I replied. Seems that this young man felt that co-anglers are the very reason that the fishing industry is able to survive. Cos are the ones who buy the tackle, the boats, and the tow vehicles. Cos are the ones who subscribe to the magazines, watch the television shows, and read the articles on the internet. I agree with all that. He went on to say that if you take the cos out of the game, the game won't go on. The fishing industry will falter and K-Pink will be out of a job. I don't agree with that.

Let's do a little math here. 11 events with 106 cos in each one is 1,166 co-anglers. Many will fish more than one event throughout the season, so I'm just going to say that during any given Elite Series season there will be approximately 800 different co-anglers. I have no idea if that number is low or high, but it's an approximate thing. So this man wants me to believe that 800 guys are propping up a $770 million fishing tackle/ bass boat industry? Wow. That means that each one of them is spending about $900,000.00 every year on fishing. That's a lot more than I pay.

Yeah, I realize that my math is a stretch, but dude's assumption that cos are the backbone of the outdoor industry is even more farfetched. Like not even in this galaxy. Sure, they have an impact, but there are only 800 (approximately) of them. Just a guess on my part, but I'm saying that 10,000,000 bass fishermen across the country probably have a wee bit more of an impact on the tackle industry than 800 Elite Series cos.

Just an idea here, but if they (allegedly) replace the co-anglers on the Elite Series with observers, would the observers not have a bigger impact on the fishing market than someone who was actually fishing? Is that too far out there to assume? I've noticed this in the Majors and in the Classic, where we have observers. A dude in your boat as an observer will actually take more time to watch where you are fishing, how you are fishing, what you are fishing with than dude who is in the back of the boat trying to catch his own fish. On average, I've fielded three times as many questions from observers on every subject from rods to line to boats as compared to questions from co-anglers.

A guy who is going to sit in the boat for several days with an Elite Series pro has one thing on his mind  he wants to learn. He wants to see how we do it, what we do it with, where we do it, the whole nine yards. These guys want to learn by watching. Why else would he be there? Is it a stretch to assume that this guy would be even more inclined to go buy the baits, rods, reels, line, etc, that he saw one of the Elite Series pros whacking them with?

Hey, maybe observers have a bigger impact on the tackle industry than we know. They just don't send us emails telling us that observers rule the world (yes, I got one that said "co-anglers rule the world"). Wow. I think he was on the Left Coast with my friend.

For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.