Registration is underway for PAA Member Observers, who will have the opportunity to learn from some of the nation’s best pros bass anglers during the 2011 Bass Pro Shops PAA Tournament Series presented by Carrot Stix.
Registration is easy to complete, and a complete set of forms can be downloaded at www.FishPAA.com/2011-observer-information/. The nominal entry fee includes a PAA membership and great benefits, but more importantly it’s the first step to seeing how the top pros dissect a lake, strategize and then make adjustments during their day.
After Paul Fisler rode as an observer with Gene Larew pro Tommy Biffle on the final day at Lake Tawakoni during the 2010 PAA Tournament Series event, he left with a strong impression that lingers to this day.
“The way he was flipping that bait out, it was amazing,” said Fisler, who lives in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. “He was putting the bait through holes and gaps in the brush about four inches wide. You don’t get that good without practicing and years of experience.
“Now, when I go on the weekend, I have two 2-pound coffee containers that are weighed down and I’ll stand there 15-20 minutes at a time flipping my practice plugs at them trying to drop them in the bucket. I’ll get one in every now and then.”
Fisler was one of many PAA Member Observers last season and is looking forward to going again. Registration is open for participation in the three PAA Tournament Series events and the inaugural PAA Bass Pro Shops All Star Series event.
Tournament Series dates are March 31 to April 2 on Lake Lanier in Georgia; June 23-25 on Table Rock Lake in Missouri and Aug. 18-20 on Neely Henry Lake in Alabama. The PAA All Star Series is scheduled for April 21-23 on Lake Ray Hubbard in Garland, Texas.
PAA Member Observers pay a $100 entry fee per event, which is good for one to three days of joining the nation’s top professional anglers on competition days. The fee, for new members, includes a free one-year General membership, PAA cap, decals, Affinity Program access for discounts from PAA partners and eligibility to earn bonus cash through the PAA PayDay Program for sanctioned local or regional weekend tournament events they may win while they are a member of PAA. Current PAA members pay only $50 to be a Member Observer.
Member Observers do not fish during competition days. Those who register for at least two days will be eligible for a drawing for prizes including Bass Pro Shops gift cards. Observers who register for all three tournament days will have priority placement for the final day when the Top 20 pros will compete.
Participation provides a first-hand experience of an angler’s decisions on the water, from location and strategy to lure selection and the “little things” that can make a difference in success or failure.
“I rode with Pete Ponds at Toledo Bend in 2009 and then with Tommy last year, it was like having my own private fishing lesson,” Fisler said. “He talked about his baits and some of the specific things he does with them. Getting to see all that was great.”
Hickey went all season
As a relatively novice angler, Pete Hickey of Morristown, Tenn., registered to be an observer for the opening PAA Tournament Series event last year on Cherokee Lake. Hickey admitted that while he enjoyed fishing, he wanted to improve his knowledge to make his outings more successful.
After spending two days on the water at Cherokee, Hickey registered to be an observer at the remaining PAA Tournament Series events. He traveled to Lake Norman, Lake Tawakoni and Table Rock Lake, and was the only observer to participate the entire season.
“I really had a great time not only meeting all the pros and seeing new lakes, but the things I learned were invaluable,” Hickey said. “There were things I’d never even thought about considering that I realized could make a difference, and seeing those things up close was really helpful.
“The way I see it, I could hire a guide and spend one day on one lake with him, or I could spend about the same amount of money and be with 12 top pros on four different lakes. It really was a great experience.”
Fisler said he’s looking forward to attending the inaugural PAA All Star Series tournament at Lake Ray Hubbard in April and learning more.
“I’ve had a blast every time I’ve been and when the day was over, I didn’t want to leave,” he said. “I wanted to jump out of the boat and go find a puddle somewhere to try some of the things I saw.”
Registration: To register as a PAA Member Observer, download the complete information packet available in the gray PDF link atop the page at www.FishPAA.com/2011-observer-information/ . Registration forms may be returned to the PAA office via fax at (270) 527-2032.
For other questions, contact the PAA office at (270) 527-2030 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.
About the PAA: The Professional Anglers Association is a non-profit organization that gives professional anglers a unified voice in order to aid in the growth of the sport of professional bass fishing. The PAA also aims to administer educational programs to the average angler, to increase enjoyment of the sport, and to embrace sound conservation practices to further the future of the sport. Web: www.FishPAA.com