Professional bass anglers like to say that a bass is a bass, wherever it lives. That’s true. But of course, we all know that not all bass act the same; and each requires a unique approach based on the conditions.
That’s sort of how the publishing industry works. As a writer and editor, I’ve helped publish more than 100 magazine issues, and I’ve worked on dozens of brochures, event guides, pamphlets, journals and features along the way. And despite all those experiences, no challenge in my career has ever matched the project I recently completed.
About a week ago, I received the first copies of my new book called, Walleye Trolling: Tackle, Techniques and Systems Used by North America’s Best Walleye Tournament Pros and Guides, which I co-authored and self-published with FLW magazine contributor and professional walleye guide Ross Robertson.
Ross and I have worked together on many magazine stories the last few years. We’ve developed many mutual contacts in the walleye fishing industry. Yet with all that prior experience, this project was absolutely the most intense and demanding learning experience of my career – and it is now one of the highlights.
If you’re interested in walleye fishing, I’d love for you to stop at Ross’ website, bigwaterfishing.com, and check out the book. It’s full of in-depth descriptions about how expert walleye anglers Tom Keenan, Bruce Samson, John Gillman, Todd Frank, Mike Gofron, Brett King, Joe Okada, Johnnie Candle, Mark Brumbaugh, Chip Cartwright and Ron Levitan Jr. use walleye fishing’s most effective trolling systems. There are also cool behind-the-scenes stories about major tournament milestones, prototype lures, road-trip blunders and tournament history from all of the pros I just mentioned, plus industry legends Al Lindner, Gary Roach and Dave Csanda.
That’s the only sales pitch I’ll give you here. This space isn’t for pushing products. To me, it’s a place to share my fishing industry experiences. So I’ll tell you what this experience was like.
Ross and I completed this entire project on our own, minus a few photos here and there and the illustration work. We did the research, the writing, the editing and the design. We worked with the printer and set up a distributor. We figured out all the ins and outs of selling and dealing with retailers. We are doing the marketing and promotion. And we did it all in just over a year, when many authors take a year just to do the writing. Talk about a whirlwind. I can’t tell you how many nights I stared into a computer monitor until 11 or 12 o’clock, or how many Saturdays I spent sweating under the hot lights of a photo studio.
Throughout the process, I drew my motivation from the reason why we took on this project: We wanted to give walleye anglers a realistic source of how-to information that wasn’t filled with the same old regurgitated “how-to fluff” that is often polished, re-packaged and spit out the door of a factory publishing house just to make a buck. This book is all real. The information is heavy. It’s detailed. We did it exactly the way we wanted to do it. As a journalist, it was liberating, albeit exhausting.
I won’t tell you that you can read it, then go to the lake and hammer 30-inchers. That’s not the point. What we wrote about was how elite trolling systems work, so that average anglers can take the information to their lakes and put it all together. And I plan to incorporate that same strategy in FLW Bass Fishing magazine. I’ll still tell you how Larry Nixon and Luke Clausen caught fish at the last tournament, but I’m also going to dig deeper to find out how they arrived at that pattern, and how their experiences can help you catch more fish.
That’s one other lesson I learned in this process. While magazines and books are not the same, and each has its own set of challenges, in the end, the way we research, write, edit and design information about fishing is just about the same in any print project. The goal is to give the reader a thoughtful, educational experience. And if you’re passionate about communicating your message and are willing to work hard, you often end up with a really great printed piece. I hope our readers believe we have accomplished just that.