A WORD FROM THE PAA PRESIDENT: PART 2
Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos courtesy of PAA Communications
Hemphill, TX – This is part two of a feature with Dave Mansue, president of the Professional Anglers Association. In part one, Mansue discussed 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. To view part one, CLICK HERE.
In today’s feature, Mansue candidly discusses some of the biggest concerns that he sees in the sport of professional bass fishing and unveils his idea for a PAA penalty committee. He also tackles the issue of creating a united front, and talks about the responsibility that comes with fishing at the top level of the sport.
Mansue on creating a PAA penalty committee:
“In the upcoming year, one of the major things that the PAA needs to address is the seemingly arbitrary enforcement of major rule violations in both FLW and B.A.S.S. tournaments. As it stands now, the punishments appear to be very random and not uniform across the board.
“It all comes down to angler advocacy. It is vitally important that the punishment fits the crime and is enforced exactly the same on all anglers, regardless of who they are. The PAA is in position to be the perfect entity to come up with guidelines for what the penalty or punishment should be for specific violations.
“Assembling a penalty committee, made up of an equal number of both B.A.S.S. and FLW Tour anglers, would be a huge asset to the sport. The PAA penalty committee would come up with guidelines that lay out what the penalty is for each violation so that everyone knows what they are.
“Both B.A.S.S. and FLW would still make their own judgment calls on minor rules violations over the course of a tournament, but violations that are significant enough to warrant fines, suspensions, or bans would be handled by the PAA penalty committee who would gather the information and then recommend and administer the penalty. This would remove a big burden from B.A.S.S. and FLW.
“Right now, we haven’t approached B.A.S.S. or FLW about this concept, but that is something that the PAA is working towards in the upcoming year. It will take a great deal of cooperation, but the driving force behind it is to make these potentially career changing decisions fair and equitable in every aspect. Currently, there are anglers who feel as though there has been a great deal of favoritism when it comes to rule enforcement. We have a genuine interest in solidifying the integrity of the industry and the sport.”
Mansue on the importance of creating unity throughout the top level of professional fishing:
“To be quite frank, and I know some won’t like what I have to say here, but I believe that the formation of Major League Fishing (MLF) has created a division in the entire sport. With no public information on the selection process for MLF, those who weren’t selected have many questions as to why.
"Many of the anglers competing in MLF are friends of mine, and I know they view this as opportunity to increase their income and provide for their families. All are a major asset to the PAA, but the reality is that MLF is not good for fishing as a whole; it only benefits the select anglers who are fishing in MLF.
“In several aspects, the Major League Fishing structure is contrary to what the PAA stands for and has worked so hard for over the past years.
“The PAA put a great deal of effort into working with B.A.S.S. to allow the competitors at the Bassmaster Classic to fish out of their own boats and not be required to use a specific boat provided by B.A.S.S. Achieving this goal was a huge step, because it allowed each angler to highlight their individual sponsors over the course of the tournament. In MLF competition, every angler is fishing out of the exact same boat – it’s the very thing that we worked so hard to eliminate.
“The PAA has also lobbied for each angler to be able to wear their own jersey and promote their individual sponsors during tournaments and on the weigh-in stage during B.A.S.S. and FLW Tour events. While each MLF competitor has individual sponsors on their jersey, they are also required to feature the logos of MLF sponsors.
“I am fully aware that MLF is not a professional tournament trail and that it is a made-for-TV tournament, but for the average fan, it’s very hard to make a distinction between the two.”
Mansue on the responsibility of being a professional angler:
“It’s no secret that some of the biggest names in the sport have a great deal of influence. I believe that the top echelon of anglers in this sport, on both the B.A.S.S. and the FLW side, have a responsibility and an obligation to see the sport grow as a whole. With their fame comes their influence. They are the ones who can make things happen, and I hope that they recognize that they have that responsibility.
“It’s one thing to be remembered as a great angler, it’s another to leave a legacy that can benefit the sport for generations to come.
“We need all anglers to believe in the PAA and bring their strengths to us. There is strength in unity, and we can’t continue to segregate and move off in separate directions. There needs to be a unified voice working towards a set of common goals. The reality is that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was B.A.S.S. or FLW. In the last five years, the PAA has made leaps and bounds in providing anglers the ability to make a living and get the proper exposure at all levels.
“I really want to challenge the top anglers in the sport to bring the power back to the PAA so that we can continue to move the sport in the direction it needs to go. There has to be proper compensation by the organizations that are making money off of the anglers as entertainers.
“We are the one major sport where anglers are still paying their own entry fees and covering their own costs. It’s a great deal of expense that the average angler is completely unaware of. It’s very difficult to make a living in this industry as it is presently, and our goal is to change that so that it’s better for everyone. Some simple changes would help make the industry better as whole.”
Mansue on the role of the PAA in providing a platform for future anglers:
“There’s an awful lot of interest in competitive fishing at the high school and collegiate level right now, and the decisions that we make over the next few years will have a lasting impact on the next generation. Are we merely growing a new crop for the major organizations to keep things status quo, or are we making it better for the next generation? The PAA doesn’t want to see the next generation of anglers make some of the same mistakes that have been made in the past.
“I’ve believed in the PAA since the first meeting that I attended in 2002, and I’ll continue to believe in it. It is extremely important that anglers can compete while supporting a family and paying the bills. Especially when it comes to the younger generation, I don’t think many of them realize that there are far more people who have gone broke trying to be a successful pro bass fisherman than have made it.
“We want to give young anglers coming up a great opportunity to make a living doing something that they love. It’s very difficult to do that right now, and the PAA wants to play a part in changing that and creating more opportunities.”
Mansue’s final thoughts:
“With the financial health of both B.A.S.S. and FLW being so uncertain, there is no better time than now for all anglers to come together. My hope is that my comments here are recognized as a call for unity and not a source of division. I am very passionate about this sport and what it means to present and future anglers.”