No Shame in Being a Bass Fishing Beginner by K.J. Houtman 7-7-2013

Getting kids on the water after bass is what the new Bass Fishing for Beginners series is all about, according to host Jerry McKinnis.

Getting kids on the water after bass is what the new Bass Fishing for Beginners series is all about, according to host Jerry McKinnis.

Ask any kid what BFF means and they will tell you “best friends forever.” Fishing legend Jerry McKinnis has taken BFF a step further by adding a “b” at the end: a new video series entitled “Bass Fishing For Beginners (BFFB).” McKinnis wants bass fishing to be a kid’s best friend and he has embarked on a tutorial video series to boil it all down to the bare-bones essentials. The goal? Get a new angler to catch their first bass.

“If just eight kids catch a bass that wouldn’t have before,” shared McKinnis from his office in Arkansas, “I’ll be happy.”

It is just what the industry needed and according to McKinnis, the visionary behind the series, it has been very gratifying to launch.

“Talking to pros and following the pros is all well and good,” shared the legend. McKinnis, with partners Don Logan and Jim Copeland, purchased B.A.S.S. and the Bassmaster series in 2010. “We have our own language at this level and it can leave a parent overwhelmed when in the store to buy some basic gear for their kids.” Reminds me of the age-old marketing technique: Keep It Simple. That is what this phenomenal angler and television host over decades has done.

He challenged himself in one other important way: spending less than $50 to rig up and be ready to fish.

Twelve videos, each approximately three to five minutes in length, embark on the basics in bite-size pieces. For example, Jerry holds up a spincast rod and reel combo with line already pre-loaded on the reel and shows the viewer what to purchase. I like how he doesn’t display a four-year-old version of fishing either. It isn’t a Snoopy or super hero model—no offense. It’s a basic rig that might not be found in a pro’s boat, but they may have a few in the garage for when the neighbor kids come over. It is the perfect gear for anyone starting out, kids or adults. I have half a dozen of them in my garage.

Big kudos to Shakespeare for sponsoring the series.

In the next video Jerry talks about line and another about baits. He lets the viewer know the tally on the cash register. “We’re up to thirty-five dollars,” Jerry said in the spinner bait video. “And we’re going to keep it under fifty dollars.”

“What McKinnis and Bassmaster are doing with this series is excellent and just what we needed,” added Pat Neu, executive director of Future Angler Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit whose goal is to attract more participation in the sport of fishing. “Information needs to be provided in a way that a non-angler can understand and affordable enough that the average family can get started. Information has to be very basic—at least initially.”

“The key is getting a kid to catch his first bass,” continued McKinnis. “Once that happens they will be hooked, or at least most of them will. It’s so exhilarating; a kid will never forget catching that fish!”

Moms and dads that want their sons and daughters to fish but don’t have all the knowledge can start with this series on the basics and find out what they need to buy. “It’s important that we help provide this type of information for new anglers,” continued Neu. “This series is well done and communicates the message in a basic way.”

Not going to lie, there was one moment that made me cringe when I watched the series and I asked Jerry McKinnis about it. In the first video he says “shame on you” referring to never catching a bass before and my stomach flip-flopped. Just because it is core to an angler’s identity and defines who he (or she) is, it doesn’t help bring new people in.

Jerry was quick to say he didn’t mean shame on them for not fishing. “I meant that ‘shame on you’ if an adult never gave a kid a chance to catch a fish, never even took them fishing,” shared McKinnis. “That would be very sad. Give them a chance.” Knowing this man’s heart and his passion for the outdoors, I’m sure he can’t imagine a life without fishing.

For a lot of parents (or aunts or uncles, teachers or grandparents) who want to share some basic information about fishing, this series is spot on. Identifying reasonably priced gear and taking away the anxiety that comes from overwhelming choices at retail is a great start along with simple instructions.

Share the Bass Fishing for Beginners page with some of your friends and family so kids get a chance to catch their first bass. Kudos to Jerry McKinnis and the team at Bassmaster for taking this one on.

Bass Beginners

K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.

Image and logo courtesy Bassmaster

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