When you think of sports and the talent someone must have to compete at a high level, you think of such things as, football, basketball, baseball, and many other competitive sports. You think of the incredible physical specimens that actually have the certain skill set that it takes to compete. A very small percentage of humans truly are gifted enough to compete at the highest level of there selected sport. Very rarely will people relate fishing to an athletic event or something that takes coordination or skill to become above average at, but trust me just like all the other competitive sports fishing is not as simple as the average person might think. This can be very easily recognized if you take a look at the standings and records for the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournaments over the last three years. The consistency of some anglers is absolutely amazing, you will find that many of the same anglers are repeatedly in the top, time and time again having the mental, as well as physical ability to compete and put themselves in a position to win.
Putting yourself in a position to win is not an easy thing to do. Many professional anglers never actually win an event throughout the course of their career. In comparison to baseball, competing in an eight tournament season with 3/4 of your finishes in the money would be equivalent to winning close to 3/4 of your games in a baseball season. One of the main reasons this is the case is that in almost all sports the playing field is the same each and every time, and with that being said the person with the most physical talent, strength, or skill, is going to win the majority of the time. Now take fishing, traveling from lake, to river, to reservoir all over the country with different mother nature curve balls being thrown at you every step of the way. Now this is something that can take the very most skilled talented angler in the world, chew him up and spit him out. Like so many sports that simply take physical talent with a little game planning, fishing is the opposite, making mental toughness and decision making just as important, or possibly more important than the physical ability. The best anglers are tough, hard working quick thinkers that can adjust at the drop of a hat. But don't get me wrong they are physically skilled and coordinated as well.
The physical side of fishing takes extreme hand eye coordination. As every angler knows quite often fish will position themselves up underneath cover such as docks or trees. Reaching these fish is practically impossible if you don't have extreme skill with either a baitcaster or a spinning reel. It is a true art form to be able to skip a 1/4 ounce jig 50 feet up under a boat dock effortlessly positioning the bait silently in front of a waiting fish’s mouth. If you don't think it takes skill just give it a try and you will be shocked at how much timing and coordination it requires. Another physical aspect is the long consecutive days that fisherman endure. Many anglers will go weeks at a time fishing 12 hours days in horrific weather conditions that would send most people running for the air conditioning or in some cases the nice warm fire place. Professional anglers don't get to choose the days they compete, whether it is 100 degrees or 20 degrees they are out there trying to figure out how to trick a little green fish into biting their artificial lure, while all the while the fish have thousands of live natural food options swimming nearby at any given time.
Based on these comparisons it is easy to see that fishing not only takes physical skill, but also requires incredible mental ability and toughness. Now obviously equipment is important as well. You don't see the best golfers in the world using wood clubs in a professional tournament and fishing is the same way. There are always new innovations in fishing equipment and lures that can affect your success as an angler. Reels and rods are getting lighter, smoother, as well as faster year after year. Most brands and models of reels offer a wide variety of speeds based on their gear ratios. Where 15 years ago you didn't have many options, now you can get the exactly what you need from a 4.7:1 all the way up to an incredible 8.0:1. All speeds of reels have their time and place based on what you want to use them for.
Fishing is clearly my sport of choice. I truly love the athletic side of fishing as well as the mental side that often outweighs the physical. With the direction bass fishing is going through high school and collegiate teams it is only a matter of time until tournament bass fishing is recognized as a sport on the same level as all of the rest!
I'll see you on the water!