Refueling The Addiction


Sure, I fished as a kid growing up, a bobber and a worm, bored out of my mind. This is fishing? Sitting and waiting? No thanks.

Fast forward to my junior year of college, sitting in my dorm room between classes enjoying some good ol’ cafeteria food for lunch, when I see a show come on in the midst of the fishing shows called “City Limits Fishing with Mike Iaconelli.” Ike single handedly changed my outlook on fishing forever.

You see, I knew there were artificial lures and I didn’t have to use a bobber and worm to fish with but no one in my family knew much about them either, or at least if they did, they didn’t really share that info with me as a kid. The bobber and worm tactic was much easier to show me at the time. But now, I saw Ike with his wrapped truck and boat on TV making a show out of challenging himself to go to new cities and fish in a way I wasn’t used to seeing and I was immediately hooked.

Now my immediate reaction of course was that my new goal in life was to eventually fish tournaments at a professional level and travel the country making a living out of fishing. I mean, doesn’t that sound like the ultimate job? How could it go wrong right? We’ll finish that revelation in a bit… But fishing now became an addiction. It was something I obsessed over and thought about several hours a day and I hadn’t even been out to try my hand at it yet. I was in research mode, and if you happen to know me, you know that I don’t make a quick decision on something without either having pre-existing knowledge on the subject/product or researching it extensively to make sure I make the best decision I can make. Fishing became no longer about the bobber and worm; it was no longer a boring past time. I mean, “power fishing,” there’s nothing boring about that. It became challenging, it wasn’t all on the fish and whether it wanted to bite. It now became about “what can I do” to make these fish eat a lure. Now there was a whole different side to this game for me and I loved it.

Once I progressed in my research on techniques, rod and reel combos for each style, bait types, colors for each situation, hooks, weights, knots… The list grew in a hurry, so literally that I had scrap pieces of paper all over my desk with set-ups I thought would work and what techniques I would use each combo for. At this point all I still had was a couple spinning combos and mono-filament line that I had been fishing small creeks and ponds with, but that was about to change with my first purchase of the ever so intimidating baitcaster. With a little advice from a few guys I knew who fished a lot, I was able to adjust the reel to minimize my bird’s nest situations while I got familiar with it. Fishing took over my brain to the point that while I should have been in my dorm studying, I was practicing tying knots and flipping into targets in my room while watching fishing shows. I probably took everything and re-organized my tackle box once a week. The CrAzY was beginning to really come out.


As I fished more and more each summer I was gaining a lot of confidence in the creeks and farm ponds around where I grew up and getting to hit a private lake with a friend of mine on his boat which was the coolest thing ever to me at the time and we had a blast catching fish on that evening topwater bite which was and still is my favorite way to catch fish. Once I graduated college, I was at a buddy’s bachelor party one night where Chad Brock was manning the grill and it just so happened that he was wearing a tournament jersey, which caught my attention pretty quickly. Chad and I had wrote dirt bikes together a little growing up but never really hung around together much, this was about to change… Chad invited me on a fishing trip one evening so we drug his john boat out to a private lake hidden in the hills around our home town and we put the boat in and began working around standing timber and all of the structure which was my first time seeing this much variation on a body of water due to my limited experience. Little did he realize he was just adding fuel to the fire. From that point on we began shooting archery together about 3 or 4 days a week (another major passion of ours) and fishing whenever we could get away. I knew Chad and another friend of ours were fishing some local tournaments and doing pretty well at the time and I asked questions whenever I could about how it all worked being I still had a dream of fishing tournaments for a living one day with all of the flash and sponsors and what not.

As a year or so passed by it just so happened that an opportunity arose for me to step in and become a Tournament Director along side Chad of a division on Patoka Lake for a spring and fall series. Felt like my chance to really get involved and really learn how tournaments worked from the inside so of course I jumped at the offer with no hesitation. We started getting involved with companies and accumulating product from sponsors for our division doing our best to give guys something to fish for other than a small check at the end of each tournament. Being it was a smaller and affordable “Grass Roots” series; there wasn’t a lot of money to be won each tournament so we felt we would do our best to help sweeten the pot. A couple years, and 60 or so tournaments, and a lot of drama later, my opinions of chasing that “Pro Tournament Angler” dream were starting to change.

I was burnt out, tired of not fishing to compete while I was at the tournaments but rather getting up at the crack of darkness to watch other guys sling roosts as they hauled across the water to battle for the cash at the end of the day. Losing my fire and interest in the sport I was once so obsessed with after all of the time and effort I had put into helping Chad create such a successful series. After the fall season of 2013, we walked away from our positions as directors and started Bass Crazy. Even while we started building to where we are today, my head wasn’t in it completely. I didn’t fish but maybe four times all of 2014 and the fire was dimming. We hadn’t gotten the john boat out much and bank fishing the few places I had to go was getting frustrating. Though the creek was still a blast, it was starting to get a little crowded since we sort of unveiled our secret with episode 2 of bass crazy.


Then some interesting photos of guys in plastic kayaks started showing up on our message board of Bass Crazy. The gears were starting to turn and our interest was growing. All winter long, we began to research and my addiction for the sport was beginning to grow once again. We tested the Big Rig from Jackson at the 2015 Indianapolis Boat Sport and Travel Show and the decision was made. We had to have a kayak and ASAP! We picked ours up in March, and I’ve let the CrAzY out in full force once again. Every night of the week I’m going through tackle, retying lures while I brainstorm a plan for the next weekend, or practicing flipping to targets in the yard. Its been so eye-opening to get involved in this different style of fishing but incredible refreshing at the same time. We talk all the time about the differences of opinion between the guys in this particular niche of the fishing world and were over here like, “were just here to fish.” All we look to do is explore new waters and enjoy the adventure and take these kayaks as far into the wilderness as we can to find water that hasn’t been fished in a while and we hope to be able to show that in a new episode of Bass Crazy 365 here soon, but one thing is for sure because the fires are back, they’re burning, and I’m ready to set some hooks!

Zach Bailiff


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