I recently had the pleasure to attend the Bass University in Nashville, Tennessee, not as a speaker but as a guest. For twenty-three years I traveled the seminar circuit with Bass fishing techniques later to become the Bass University.
When Gary White, the founder of bass fishing techniques retired from doing the shows so did I. My last one was in Boston some years back, it was a fitting place to stop since I enjoyed Boston so much. For several years I dropped out of the fishing spotlight. I thought I was ready to retire. But as they say, you can’t keep and old dog down.
A very good friend of mine Billy Decoteau, who is involved with the new Bass University, called me and gave me an invite to one of the classes that was being held in Nashville, Tennessee. I will say I had my hang-ups about going. I didn't know if you could bring something back and make it as good as it was before. Of course the thoughts of those good old years of renting cars because a flight was cancelled at the airport, driving all night to make a 7:00 am show, getting very little sleep, doing 8 hours of talks and then heading to another location came flooding back, too. Those were good times, very good times.
When I got to the Radisson at Opryland, where the event was taking place, I walked through the lobby as I had done so many times before and followed the signs to the Bass University. As I opened the door I could see the people in their seats listening intently to the speaker. The speaker was Pete Gluszek, who along with Mike Iaconelli was bringing back the Bass University.
I also got to meet the people from Elite Tackle who had their tackle displays set up at the show. After a round of hello’s and a lot of picture taking, Billy Decoteau came over and shook hands. It was good to see an old friend again.
As I sat and listened to the speakers through the day, I felt that the information and the interaction of the speakers and the students was right on.
The show was two days, so I decided to come back on Sunday. There were three reasons for this:
1. I wanted to see if the second day was going to go as well as the first.
2. David Fritts was one of the Sunday speakers. David and I had traveled to many states over twenty years together doing the Bassmaster University shows. I just wanted to say hello.
3. I wanted to see and talk with Mike Iaconelli, who along with Pete was bringing back the classes. I had talked with Mike briefly at the Icast fishing show in Las Vegas this year, but I wanted to know more. While I watched and listened to his talk I was watching the reaction from the crowd, it was very positive. In a fairly short time Mike has made his mark in the fishing industry — with his tournament fishing, TV shows and speaking engagements.
What I found the most interesting was the fact that when the talk was over, Mike and the other speakers stayed to field questions until the next presentation started. That’s a plus in my book.
I talked with Mike about the future of Bass University, and his answers were the ones I wanted to hear. They included: “I love doing this and I will do this as long as I can and as long as people want to listen. We are planning our programs now for next year. We will make a few changes, but not many. The changes we make will help to make the school as good as it can possibly be for the people who attend.
It's a lot of work," Mike continued. "The people who attend have to be our number one priority. We won't have it any other way."
What Mike said to me next made me feel good, “Tony, I grew up fishing with some of the rods you designed.” That makes an old dog feel good.
With that, it was time for Mike to make his next presentation. What happened at the end of his talk is something I will never forget. As the applause died down (which took quite a while, I might add), Mike turned back to the audience and said there was one more thing he had to do. “We have someone with us today for whom I have the upmost respect. He is a legend in the fishing industry and I am going to ask him to come up on stage - Tony Bean."
Now I've had the privilege of walking upon many stages in my lifetime, but this was special - very special. I stood along side Mike and my good friend, Billy Decoteau, shaking hands.
Then, Mike handed me the microphone, and along with a few other things, I said this, “The Bass University is in good hands."
Would I recommend that you attend a Bass University in 2011? Without question!
Mike, Pete, Billy - thank you for keeping the Bass University going.
~ Tony Bean
Visit www.TheBassUniversity.com for more information