05 Sep I’m Giving River Bassin’ a New Home!
Rivers are sacred; without rivers, there are no lakes, and without rivers there are no freshwater sources for cities to draw from. This is what allows us to live in so many cool places on this planet! Let’s face it: Even without the awesome fishing opportunities, rivers are special. My original tag line that I still use today on emails is, “Because in the beginning there were rivers.” To me personally, it was the beginning of so much more than I ever knew it would be; it’s where my dad taught me to fish – we would just wade in our local rivers and creeks while I was young. It later became the only reason I got into kayak fishing, because I wanted the best tool to fish the wild and secluded places that I enjoyed fishing. It then turned from a hobby to a career, as I later founded and coined the term “River Bassin’” about 10 years ago. It started as just a community of anglers who joined online to share their trip reports, stories, photos, tips and tactics. Then, we added a laid-back tournament trail to give river anglers an opportunity for their heart to skip a beat, when even more was at stake as they fished their way down the rivers. It all led to me becoming the first fishing employee at Jackson Kayak, where we designed my signature series kayak, the Coosa, which was named after a river and designed for rivers! Unless you’re new to the industry, you probably know that it’s commonly known as one of the kayaks that changed the way fishing kayaks are made today, with innovative features that are now standard on most fishing kayaks (hi-lo external frame seat, stand-ability, rod & paddle stagers, tackle storage, lockable hatches etc). And, it all happened because of rivers!
Today, I still fish a lot of rivers, creeks, swamps, river mouths and deltas on my Hooked on Wild Waters show, and I’m proud to offer an educational side story on each episode that often times highlights how we can better manage our waterways and/or the fish within them. As great and positive as that is for the watersheds, the rivers have given to me more than I could ever give back to them…but I’m going to try my best to do what I can for them now.
I’m giving River Bassin’ a new home. What? “That’s crazy,” you say? From the outside looking in, and before you’ve read all this, I get it, it may seem that way. However, when it has a new owner, things may not be that different; in fact I could even be more visible for the brand since I won’t have to run the back-end, business side. I just enjoy being part of the community at the River Bassin events, be it a tournament or just a get-together (River Bassin’ Rodeo is what we called them).
I don’t know who will take it over just yet, or what aspects they’ll even take over. I just know the back end business side of River Bassin’ is too much for me to handle in this stage of life, and it’s time to do what is best for the brand, anglers, and the rivers by passing it over to the best person/persons that can continue to take it in a positive direction. A direction that educates, not exploits, helps conservation without over commercialization, encourages progress not pollution, while also making a profit without over-promotion of such a limited and beautiful natural resource. It’s not an easy task, but it can be done. I’ll consider all offers, whether someone has some cash to buy some of the assets (hat, short, shirt inventory, our live scoring software etc) or if they have no money at all! I just want to do what’s best for the brand and rivers. A candidate could be a larger entity, or even just a single person. I won’t let it go to anyone unless I am confident they will not run the brand into the ground. It takes a lot of work, effort, time and serious knowledge in so many areas (marketing, graphic design, business savvy, writing skills, social media skills, web skills, etc) to make a brand like this go.
I personally am always going to still going to be a part of it in some way, because I’m always going to be “river bassin,'” it’s who I am, what I love. Rivers are my original passion and is still what I enjoy the most when I’m on the water. As much potential as the brand has, my priorities lie with Jackson Kayak, Hooked on Wild Waters, and future opportunities with my current sponsors, but most importantly spending as much time as I can with my new son, Theo, and wife, Cristina. Theo will only be young once, and I’d much rather enjoy watching him grow up, rather than miss out on it in but be able to say, “…but look what I did with River Bassin’.” The two just don’t compare.
The brand, community and lifestyle is and will continue to be a great service that provides its fans and followers a place to come together and share a love of kayak fishing for bass in rivers. The fun lifestyle brand (hats, board shorts, etc.) is something that really connects and bonds all of us who fish in rivers for bass, and the tournaments and other get-togethers are great places for in-person friendships to be made. The sky is the limit for this brand, because it defines anyone who fishes for bass in rivers the same way that Kayak Bass Fishing has defined anyone who fishes in a kayak for bass.
(Speaking of KBF, the championship event for River Bassin’ this year – Sept 22nd in Waynesville, MO – is actually going to be a 2019 KBF National Championship Qualifier, so make sure you make this grand finale event!)
Before I tell you exactly what the new owner/s will be getting, and before anyone submits emails to me, I want to be clear about what I’m looking for in a new owner. They must adhere to my original intentions of the brand and continue on a course that promotes the sport/activity, but does it in a way that doesn’t ruin the essence of what river bassin’ really is. It’s something we have done to get away from the bigger boats, crowds, and commercialization of fishing, that gives you that “everything is right in the world” peaceful feeling when you’re on a wild river; once out of sight from the busy urban world, this sport refreshes you from all of life’s weekly stresses. It wasn’t created to exploit specific locations, but rather to educate, promote catch & release, and bring people together to form lasting friendships through fishing rivers for fun, or in tournaments together – a community.
Some may say, “but how can you promote something and not be exploiting it?” Well, there is certainly a difference in my mind. We fish rivers on the Hooked on Wild Waters show, which in theory is promoting people to do the same, but we also teach anglers about caring for them and the species that live there. Without more people fishing rivers, there is no one to fight for them, and the majority of the population could care less about them; they see them as a dumpster, or don’t realize where any of their littering or un-treated waste ends up. It’s a trick question by the way; anything dumped on land, a ditch, a small creek, etc. all ends up in the rivers. Just watch the recent King Congaree episode of the show where we speak with the Congaree Riverkeeper about their challenges to get more people to support these non-profit river organizations so they can fight for the rivers when man is desecrating them. Obviously some promotion is necessary, but it has to be combined with proper education as well. Through River Bassin’ and Hooked on Wild Waters, we’ve always tried our best not to exploit any smaller bodies of water, or to give up specific sections we’re fishing so people learn that it isn’t the way to go about river bassin,’ given how small and sensitive some places may be. Now, at times, we have a tourism partner who is wanting to help bring attention to their rivers/area and we want to make sure we help them achieve that goal, but we wouldn’t do so if the rivers were small or sensitive to too much pressure.
The internet is a powerful tool, and rivers are a limited resource (although there are a lot of them). If the sport of basketball grows, you just build more courts. If the sport of River Bassin’ grows, you can’t make more rivers. You need to educate people so they understand that they can research, explore and find success on sections of river that not many people have talked about or fished before. If someone catches a 10lb bass and mentions (or shows) the exact section of river they were on, you bet there will be 100 people there the next weekend. The seclusion and essence of the sport (and possibly the amount of bass) are all at risk. This isn’t what River Bassin’ is all about. “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.” It could be written like this for River Bassin – “Expose a river honey hole and you’ve helped the masses catch fish at one spot, and potentially ruined it for those who diligently found it on their own. Teach others how to find great spots and you’ve helped all become better, more fulfilled anglers.” Part of every person who fishes for bass in rivers wants to sort of keep it to themselves, I get that, but the truth is that someone introduced you and I to the sport. And now the joy we get from it has changed our lives for the better. For many, it’s literally saved their lives; the sport’s fitness nature has them living a healthier lifestyle and helped so many become better people. It’s not something that you should be afraid to share with the world. The person who takes this over will need to understand this challenge of River Bassin’.
The main goal of the brand is to give people who fish in rivers for bass a community and brand to unify through, whether it be online, through a social media tag, #riverbassin, through tournaments or just informal camping & fishing get-togethers. This is a brand that aims to celebrate the unique lifestyle of being a river rat, sharing our stories and experiences with others, while keeping the un-written code that you can share your photos, excitement and passion for the sport in a way that still protects your specific areas/fish from being over-pressured.
So now back to what you want to know. Who is taking this over? And, what exactly are they getting? I’ll be fielding private emails and consider all those who may be interested in part or all of the brand. Below are some of the assets that could go along with it.
I own riverbassintrail.com (over 90,000 unique visitors per year), and the live scoring software that runs the back end of the tournaments (scoring, registration, & payments through kayakfishingseries.com). They will get an introduction from me to all the sponsors of the tournament series as well, so that they can keep those relationships going. riverbassin.com could also be a part of this, but it has been out of commission for a while, so it would need some love. At one point was a great resource and central location for articles, forums, and other educational content about fishing for bass in rivers. It was briefly taken over by the guys at YakAngler.com but I believe they eventually sold and their ability to bring current and relevant content to the site went along with it. I also own the River Bassin’ social media accounts – Instagram (8,705 followers, 8,000 hashtags), Facebook page (8,000 likes, 4.8 out of 5 review rating). I’d encourage bringing back River Bassin’ Rodeos, which were just camping, fishing, food and fellowship weekends similar to a boondoggle. I feel the brand needs to be seen more like it originally was, not so much as tournament trail, because it is more than that. It’s a way to go about fishing, a lifestyle. I also have all the equipment used for the tournament trail that can go to the new owner – sound system, stage, banners, prize wheel, etc. (RV not included in this deal… lol). I also have loads of hat and board short inventory that could potentially go along with whoever takes this over as well.
If you or someone you know might be interested in making sure River Bassin’ continues to grow and serve its original purpose, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and simply explain why you believe you should be considered. I’ll announce what will happen to the brand at the River Bassin’ Championship in Waynesville, MO, on September 22nd. We’ll be giving away around $75,000 in cash/prizes at this event so if you’ve never been to a River Bassin’ tournament this would be a great grand finale to attend for so many reasons! Can’t wait to see all of you there and to announce who or which group of people will be taking over River Bassin’!