Ned Kehde’s message is simple: You don’t have to be rich to become a bass fisherman.
Kehde, 74, uses himself as the perfect example. He uses spinning rods that cost $20 apiece, reels that he purchased in the early 1970s for $20, a 2003 boat that cost $3,300, and a 1995 tiller-steering, 40-horsepower motor that cost $3,224.
That’s called fishing on the cheap. And Kehde catches more bass than most fishermen in the Midwest.
He is blunt about his assessment of the current trend of bass fishermen thinking they have to break the bank to catch fish.
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“As I have become an old man, I have come to realize that professional bass tournaments and professional bass anglers have adversely affected the heart and soul of recreational fishing,” said Kehde, who lives in Lawrence and writes for In-Fisherman Magazine and its website. “In my mind, too many recreational anglers try to parrot the ways of the professional tournament anglers, who spend thousands and thousands of dollars and use tactics aimed at catching only five big black bass across eight hours of fishing.”
Those are controversial comments, considering that professional bass fishing is considered the driving force behind the economic well-being of the fishing-tackle market. Still, Kehde can back up his opinions.
He is looked upon as the king of finesse fishing, using small plastic baits to target big numbers of bass, rather than using the traditional larger baits to search for trophy largemouths.
He says the simpler finesse baits get back to the way fishing was meant to be.
“In my eyes, tournament fishing tactics are a terrible way to teach youngsters and novices about the manifold joys of fishing,” he said.