A WORD FROM THE PAA PRESIDENT: PART 1
Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos courtesy of PAA Communications
Hemphill, TX – This past July, Texas’ Dave Mansue was elected to his second term as president of the Professional Anglers Association (PAA). After seeing the PAA membership continue to increase during his first year as president, Mansue took time to talk with The BASS ZONE about the recently concluded PAA Tournament Series season, the direction he would like to see the PAA go in the upcoming year, and some of the biggest challenges facing the PAA and the sport as a whole.
In part one if this two part feature, Mansue discusses the reasoning behind running for a second term, the inaugural Tour Team event at the beginning of 2012, the 2012 PAA Tournament Series, and the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.
Mansue on deciding to run for a second term as president of the PAA:
“When I started my first year as president, there were a lot of things that happened fairly quickly that I really wasn’t planning on. One of the things that happened was that Danny Blandford, who served as the program director for the PAA, stepped down and took a position at BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing.
“Through that series of events, I started getting heavily involved in sales, sponsor relationships, and the daily business aspects of the PAA. As I started to develop some of those relationships, I realized that there was a lot of unfinished business after the first year of my presidency that I really wanted to see through.
“The sponsors like the fact that they know who to reach out to, so I think that it was important that the leadership didn’t change from one year to the next. It made for a better situation to develop relationships with those sponsors, and I think that it has been a good deal for everyone involved.”
Mansue on opening the 2012 PAA season with the inaugural Tour Team Challenge back in January on Lake Toho:
“We really got a lot of good feedback from that event. It paired two professional anglers together in a team format, and you may recall that the first two Toyota Texas Bass Classics were actually team events as well. A lot of the anglers enjoyed that format, so we decided to bring it back with the Tour Team Challenge.
“That was one of the most entertaining tournaments of the year because there were some pretty interesting teams. When you put two top anglers in the boat together in a tournament format, the whole ‘alpha dog’ thing comes out and you have to figure out who is going to make the decisions.
“I’m really excited to watch the television show from that tournament, which will air this upcoming January. There were teams like Bobby Lane from the Elite Series and Gerald Brown from the FLW Tour, Dean Rojas and Terry Seagraves, Gerald Swindle and Terry Scroggins, and Paul Elias and Shaw Grigsby. I can promise that there was some great footage captured at that event, and we are looking forward to doing it again next year.”
Mansue on angler participation during the 2012 PAA Tournament Series season and increasing the number of anglers competing in the upcoming season:
“We are working really hard to increase the number of anglers in our PAA Tournament Series events. The one thing that I want to emphasize is the strength of field at the PAA tournaments. You have anglers from the Bassmaster Elite Series, FLW Tour, and the PAA. I’d match our fields up against anything regardless of the number of anglers in the field.
“One thing that I think will boost our numbers for the 2013 season is the strength of schedule that we are currently planning. If an angler knows that they’re going to a quality fishery where they will catch fish, they’re going to show up and enjoy themselves even if they don’t cash a check.
“I also think the fact that FLW recently announced that they are cutting four FLW Tour Opens from the schedule in 2013 will boost our numbers. That’s an unfortunate situation, but a lot of anglers are now looking for some additional opportunities to fish top level tournaments. The PAA Tournament Series is a great opportunity to do that.”
Mansue on the structure of the PAA Tournament Series payouts:
“As anglers, we recognize that there are some issues with payouts in other organizations. The biggest thing is that if you cash a check, you want to be able to come out on top and have income realized from that check. Most fans look at a professional angler who cashes a $10,000 check on tour and they think that it’s a big payday. They don’t realize the fact that the entry fee was over $5,000. When you throw in a couple thousand more for expenses and travel, the angler isn’t clearing a lot of money from that check.
“One of the things that the PAA has recognized is that if you cash a check, it should be for at least double the entry fee. With the PAA Tournament Series structure, the more anglers that compete in our tournaments, the better the payout is. It’s actually the best payout in the industry.
“We recently did a payout comparison showing that if we are able to pull 150 anglers or more, that last place angler in the money would actually cash a check for more than double the entry fee. We are excited about that, and I think that the anglers are excited about that as well.”
Mansue on the Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC):
“The TTBC is such a unique event that is truly the world championship of bass fishing. The Bassmaster Classic is the premier event that every angler wants to compete in, and the Forrest Wood Cup is obviously one of the richest paydays in fishing and quite an accomplishment to win.
“When you look at the strength of field in the TTBC, it’s beyond comparison. You have the top 15 anglers in the Angler Of the Year standings from the FLW Tour, the top 15 from the Elite Series AOY standings, and the top 15 from the PAA Tournament Series standings. Other than the Bassmaster Classic and the Forrest Wood Cup, it’s the next highest paying event that the anglers can fish.
“The weather didn’t cooperate at all this year, but in the end, 33,000 people showed up over the course of the tournament to see the best bass fishermen and cheer on Bryan Thrift as he won the tournament. We were really excited about this most recent TTBC, and we are hopeful that next year’s tournament will be even bigger and better.
“When the PAA started, one of the goals was to have events that were free of entry fees and featured guaranteed payouts. That’s exactly what the Toyota Texas Bass Classic is. It’s a $150,000 payout to the winner, and every angler gets a check.
“I can’t say enough about Gulf States Toyota, which is the title sponsor of the event. Everyone knows about Toyota and how involved they are in the outdoors, but Gulf States is a regional entity that takes it over the top. We couldn’t be prouder of our relationship with them.
“We are also very proud of the money that we have been able to donate to the Texas Parks and Wildlife and their youth programs through the TTBC. Over the last five years, we have been able to donate 1.5 million dollars to Texas Parks and Wildlife.”