Merwin: Do Pro Bass Tournaments Promote the Sport of Fishing?

That's a tough question, and some of the answers I've gotten over the years might surprise you.

There's no question that all the media buzz around pro-bass anglers and their tournaments has made them hugely visible. Put really big bucks into a fishing contest, and the television cameras will roll. But is it the fish that count? Or is it the money?

A few weeks ago I had a long talk with Denny Brauer, a true gentleman and one of the best-known of all the pro-bass guys. I asked him about the question-and-answer sessions he sometimes gets into with regular fisherman, including young ones.

So what kind of questions does he get? "People want to know how to get sponsors," he told, rolling his eyes a little. "Or, where do I get a shirt like that?" Notably, questions about how to fish more successfully or which lures to use under what conditions aren't at the top of the list.

It seems to me that people are buying into the marketing. And marketing is not fishing. But what do you think?