Best of the Bassmen
who better represent the breakfast of champions."
Brauer, characteristically diplomatic, said he first was shocked by the protest, but adds, "Every media interview was positive. Everybody was behind the sport of bass fishing and thought the protest was absolutely ridiculous. By the same token, it's neat we live in a country where everybody can peacefully express their opinions. And they did and we expressed ours. It focused attention on fishing. There are lots of mothers and fathers sitting at the breakfast table with that cereal thinking, 'maybe I'll take my kid out fishing.'"
For the average angler, fishing is a hit or miss situation. Either they hit or they don't, and if they don't, it doesn't hit them in the pocketbook. Not so with a top tournament angler. Brauer equates tournament fishing with "a giant puzzle--the one who puts the pieces together the fastest is the winner. I think experience is a valuable teacher." Today he and his son Chad are in business together, but also often compete against each other in tournaments. Brauer thinks he has a slight edge because of experience but figures it's only a matter of time before Chad catches up.
Professional fishing, like some other pro sports, especially golf and basketball, has burgeoned in recent years. "There are more companies outside the fishing field that are sponsoring tournaments," Brauer says. "So more money is flowing into the sport."
Fishing is considered a "life sport," one that can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. But can a pro go on forever? "I guess we're the guinea pigs," Brauer says. "We're the first generation of pro anglers. I just turned 50 and I have a lot more aches and pains after a day's fishing than I used to, but I also have just as much willpower as I ever did. Fishing can be strenuous, but if you take care of your body and try to work out and be aware of how you can hurt yourself in rough water, I think you can fish for quite a few years.
"As long as I have that drive and continue to learn and gain knowledge, I think that compensates for what I lose physically."
The wear probably is more psychological than physical. Travel is integral to pro fishing--tournaments jump from one end of the country to another and Brauer is constantly on the road. "Mental burnout can happen in a hurry if you're not