Fishing: Be an Ambassador to Your Sport

Garry McCollum-fishing

Being a “responsible” adult I always attempt to be on my best behavior. It’s important to be an ambassador for your sport. I don’t want to sound as if I’m standing on a soapbox and lecturing the masses, but everything you do is judged.

People you don’t know and will never actually meet are watching and judging you all the time. They’re making snap decisions about you and our sport based on how you are perceived at a given moment in time. I know this isn’t how it’s supposed to be, but the reality is you’re “testifying” every second of the day.

I’d like to share a few memories past and present regarding personal testimony.
At one tournament I was in line for “top six.” It was a tough day. I only had four fish in the boat with 15 minutes left. I switched baits and hooked up with a nice 4-5 pounder. Long story short: fish at boat, one last jump, spit, gone. Here’s where ‘yours truly’ had a very bad moment…I’ve never cussed or thrown as big a fit as I did that day.

My co-angler was quiet. He retrieved his gear at the weigh-in, thanked me politely and left. I apologized profusely for my bad temper, but he didn’t want to fish with me again because of my “intensity and hotheadedness.” We never fished together again. Some club members never looked at me the same after that.

That can be a tough lesson to learn. Just 2-3 minutes can destroy a person’s reputation.
Another time, towing my boat to Toledo Bend for a tournament, I was caught in a “speed trap.” The officer’s first words were “you guys (bass fishermen) gotta learn you don’t own the roads around here…” I was disgustingly nice, apologetic and still received the citation.

I called the D.A. and requested assistance, but was surprised when they let me off completely because of the comments the officer wrote on the ticket he turned in (all
because I was extremely nice).

As you can see, I’ve begun to mature in my journey as an angler and an adult.
At a recent tournament things went south. My partner couldn’t be there, winds were high with a cold front, and 20 people were in “my honey hole.” After boating only two fish I moved across the lake. I stopped at a point, near another boat. I asked which way the father/son team was fishing so I wouldn’t cut them off.

Here is where I had a GREAT 10 MINUTES!!!

I threw a top water bait to the windblown point, worked it out to 15 feet and BOOM! A 3-pounder exploded on the bait. While I was putting it in the livewell the boat drifted over to a nice lay down. I picked up a Texas rigged Gila Monster (El Grande Lures). One cast and I swung a 14-incher in the boat.

Still drifting through some stickups I threw a chart/white spinnerbait. It deflected off a top and WHAP! Another weigh-fish to finish out my limit. I then heard the son ask his father if “that man” was a professional fisherman. His dad replied, “Probably not son – see his boat isn’t wrapped.” The boy says, “I don’t care, I wanna be like him!”

I didn’t set out that day to make an impression on anyone; I just wanted to fish a tournament. Even though I didn’t have the weight to place in the tournament, I had a wonderful afternoon and consider myself blessed. It’s not very often a person is able to influence someone in a positive way.

How we act will affect how others perceive us. They judge us based on our appearance and behavior. You have the opportunity every day to make a lasting impression on someone else. You never know. Sometimes the smallest things make the largest impressions! Be an ambassador to your sport!

Be Safe, Tight Lines.

Garry McCollum

Garry McCollum started fishing when he was 3. He started bass fishing when at 14. He continues today, fishing in many tournament trails including ABA, USA Bassin’, Bass N Bucks, Bass Champs, and more.

Living in Natchitoches for 5 years now, Garry and his wife Beverly have three children and one grandchild.

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