"Raw Thumb" article, As Prepared by Armstrong Outfitters Professional Guide Service.

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Kirk R. Armstrong

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"REDNECK or BASS FISHING COMMANDO!?"

Kirk R. Armstrong

February, 2003

This is the time of year where equipment goes on sale, you re-organize your boat, tackle boxes and rods / reels. You tape you’re favorite fishing shows and watch them 5 times in one day as your childhood heroes, Bill Dance, Rolland Martin, Shaw Grigsby and Orlando Wilson catch Monster bass all over the country! You pretend that you are walking your sack of fish up to the weigh in when you watch the FLW and B.A.S.S. Tour events on T.V. You smile big and reach into the live well, cameras popping flashes as the press photographs the next fish you pull out your live well. Suddenly screaming kids, barking dogs and your wife hollering at you to take out the trash, interrupt your championship dreams. You lumber out of your EZ Chair and grab the trash bag and walk into the garage. There next to the trash cans where your wife’s mini van should be is your pride and joy, your idol, your freedom…..it’s you’re bass boat. For some it is aluminum, fiberglass or Kevlar composite that if it had a 50 caliber machine gun mounted to it would make any speed freak commando happy. But that is really what we all are right,…..Bass Fishing commandos!? You even find yourself sitting in it all hours of the night rewinding line, changing lures, and organizing tackle boxes. Of course any self-respecting bass fisherman has a refrigerator in his garage and has slept in his boat at least once or twice. We are so A typical it is “my way or the highway,” you have calendars with dates reflecting you tournaments, you beg your wife to change your kids Birthday parties so it will not conflict with the tournament schedule. YOU ARE COMPLETELY CONSUMED!

I’ll never forget my first Champion Bass Boat, 203 Elite, lighted live wells, pump outs, dual graphs, temp front & rear, jack plate, Merc 225 EFI and tandem axle custom trailer. I used to walk out into the garage and sit in it until my wife would come and get me, gently telling me it was time for bed and whipping the drool off of my chin. We as bass fishermen organize our boats and our tackle better than our own closets! Our homes can be falling down around us a mama can have a “honey do list” a mile long but there will be nothing that does not work on our bass boats!

The personality of the average bass fisherman is pretty A typical. Basically we all lie a little or at least embellish the facts over a BBQ sandwich and cold beer. However the lies are rarely over the ones we caught but rather the 5 pounder that broke off after running around a tree stump that became 10+ plus pounds two days later over lunch and broke 30 lb braid when she jumped a rusty barbed wire fence that spanned the creek you were fishing. Of course you were alone and it was after work and no other boats were around….it was amazing! Our need for speed and top-notch equipment is surpassed only by our need for a matching tow vehicle that has brush guards, tool boxes and a camper shell. Oh and let us not forget about the $800 set of Goodyear all terrain tire for those steep boat ramps!? I have a z-71 4-wheel drive that has never even been stuck in the mud, but hey it looks cool pulling my boat and that is what is most important. IMAGE IS 75% of the game and as long as you look good catching fish is a bonus!

Advertising agencies and TV have brought bass fishing to new heights. ESPN found it so lucrative they bought B.A.S.S. and have turned it into a World wide sporting event filmed by car, boat and even helicopter. Man, that’s a lot of pressure on a fella’. I LOVE this sport and everything about it. It is many things to many people. To me it is memories of priceless times with grandfathers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and most importantly children. I recently hung a picture that has four photographs of my five-year-old daughter Audrey. Each photo has her holding a bass she caught with me. They range from a 3-pound spotted bass to a 7.5-pound largemouth.

Those people out there that know nothing about fishing or even hunting for that matter, no nothing about the kind of person the average bass fisherman is. Below are some stats.

  • Married over 5 years with at least one child.
  • Home owner, (must have garage or carport.)
  • At least one or even maybe one of each, pick up or SUV.
  • Bass boat that usually matches a tow vehicle.
  • Average cost of tow vehicle and boat, $50K! May exceed $80-$90!
  • Average household income $50K.
  • Annual money spent on tackle, $2,000.
  • Annual money spent on boat, (can be unlimited) $2,500.

    Preferred dining cuisine, beef jerky, PBJ sandwiches or any other quick food which can be consumed while flipping a jig.

    Basically corporate America, advertising and television has taken the image of the beer guzzling redneck fisherman and given him a “make over.” Retailers and advertisers have now realized that Bass Fishing alone could be a Fortune 100 company based on the money put into it annually. So the next time you hook up your bass boat and drive down the road do it with a sense of pride in your heart that you are Married with kids, paying a car note and a boat note, on your way top Bass Pro Shops, looking for a 7-11 to get Pepsi and beef jerky and that you make up a huge part of our economy.

    In closing I want to leave you with some thoughts about “Being a Bass Fishing Commando.” Be proud, be honest and be grateful for the families we all have and that which the good Lord has given us. “All the weights in the bag are of his making, honest scales and balances are the Lords.”

    Until next time, God Bless & Good Fishing, "Raw Thumb"

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