Pennsylvania Bass Anglers

How to Join a Bass Club

How a Bass Club Works

Randy Edgar is a Pennsylvania bass angler who is a member of Riverhills Bassmasters Club. We talk to Randy about how a bass club works and the benefits of joining a club as an angler. He provides a lot of detail for anyone considering being part of a bass club.

How long have you been fishing? 

I have been fishing for about 30 years, wow I am that old. My fishing addiction really began in middle school. I had moved to a new neighborhood and found several of the kids fished in local creeks and ponds.

That’s when I met my life long and best friend John Szentesy. Riding our bikes to secret fishing hide-a-ways like “Swar Run” “Hess’s Pond” and finding rides to the “Susquehanna” were frequent destinations. Today he and I have traveled the East Coast on fishing adventures, from Canada to Florida. We began with a $50 6 foot John Boat that we tricked out.

Now struggle to find time to get to fish together. When we do it is like we are kids all over again. 

The First Boat

When did you join your first club?

Fast forward about 20 years when I met Bruce Neal. His son was a student of mine at Manheim Central High School. Our parent teacher conference quickly shifted from American History and his student to all things fishing. An hour later, supposed to be 15 minutes, he persuaded me to come to a Riverhills Bassmasters Club meeting.

In 2009 I officially joined Riverhills. Bruce Neal was an incredible mentor. His contributions to the club and District 3 and to me are so countless. I am so thankful I got to know him and his family. Bruce passed away earlier this year and our club will never be the same after the loss of Bruce. In honor of him our Sportsman of the Year Award will be in his namesake.

Randy Belongs to River Hills Bass Masters
Randy Belongs to Riverhills Bassmasters

What have you learned as an angler by being part of a bass club that you are not sure you would’ve have learned if you weren’t?

In the beginning my fishing knowledge base was very limited. I had no idea about all of the intricate details and subtleties there were to fishing club and tournament events.

Becoming a member of a bass fishing club offers an angler the opportunity to fish a variety of water and fish with a variety of anglers. This forces an angler to incorporate various techniques and approaches as well as diverse bodies of water. Our club tournaments are on river systems, tidal fisheries, and some on a smaller natural lakes. All of which present a different set of challenges and diverse bass catching scenarios. Throw in some fun competition and “ball busting” and you have a fun group of guys that are “Fishing Addicts”.

All of these variables force an angler to get better. I think anglers are creatures of habit and without external challenges, we go to the same spots fish the same ways and do not expand our abilities. A club is a great way to cut the learning curve. Speaking with our new members they are amazed how much they have learned their first year in the club.

Describe for us how a club operates. What level of involvement does an angler need to have when in a club?

Riverhills is modeled like most clubs, we have a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasure, Tournament Director. Our meetings are the Second Tuesday of each month and last about an hour. Our tournaments are usually on the Sundays following out meetings.

An angler’s commitment is really simplistic. They will get out of the club what they put in. Like any social organization we have half the club that participates in everything and some members that fish tournaments and make some of the meetings. The best advice I can give is get involved in as much as you can, some of my best friendships I have are with guys in my club. The kind of friendships that would help you bury the body…lol.

Clubs are often part of Federations. Describe the difference for those not familiar with the structure.

Riverhills Bassmasters Club is a bass fishing club in District III of Pennsylvania. We came into existence in 1991 with a handful of talented anglers. We are a part of and support PA Bass Federation, which is associated with the National TBF, The Bass Federation. This Federation has a partnership with FLW.

The Pennsylvania Bass Federation Inc. is a non-profit service organization comprised of seven geographically divided districts across the state. The Pennsylvania Bass Federation  was originally incorporated in 1972 as the Pennsylvania BASS Chapter Federation Inc. PA Bass is the original, largest and premier bass organization in the state.

Club and Federation Structure

The Bass Federation is proudly partnered with FLW as “Partners in Fishing.” The Federation is 100% member owned through the State Federations. There are numerous opportunities to advance on to a larger stage as an angler. To understand the structure a little better, look at club events as single A baseball, District events as AA, and National or State events as AAA. The competition levels vary but this will give an angler a general sense of the competition levels and abilities. There are some amazing anglers that have fished in the State and The Bass Federation tournaments.

How expensive is it to be part of a club and then fishing at the Federation level as well? 

This is kind of a trick question. I love the quote “If you want to be a Millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a fishing career.”

I believe joining a club is the most economical way to fish at a higher level with maximum return. Club dues typically run between $100 and $175 a year. Which is a good value for the benefits FLW offers with membership. The cost of club tournaments are pretty reasonable as well. $25 for each tournament with payouts for first, second, third, and lunker. One won’t get rich fishing club tournaments but bragging rights and a couple of bucks feel pretty good.

PA Bass Federation District tournaments are $40 for co-anglers and $80 for boaters. District 3 payouts are the best in the state $1000 for Boaters and $500 for Co-anglers. There are 3 of these events per season. Typically the more prestigious the tournament the higher the cost. My wife reminds me from time to time fishing is an expensive hobby. Gas, hotels, maintenance, and tackle add up throughout the year. I am so blessed that she supports me and my crazy fishing addiction.

The Riverhills Bassmasters Love to Fish and Have Fun

Overall, what advice do you have for anyone considering joining a club and picking which club to join? 

The best advice I can give an angler about joining a club is do it. Find a friend or two and go and check out some clubs. Go on Facebook and do a little homework. It can be a little intimidating at first but find a group of guys that are fun and are fishing addicts just like you.

I describe Riverhills as group of guys who like to fish and bust each other’s balls. We are a family of fishing junkies. The funny thing is there are so many guys from other clubs that jump in our social media threads just to have fun with us.

Don’t take fishing to seriously win lose or draw its fishing. We are not curing cancer. It is fishing. We all have those bad days on the water. If you find yourself not having fun fishing and hanging out with friends in the club it’s time to move on.

Thanks Randy. The Riverhills Bassmasters can be found on Facebook.

This Post is Dedicated to Bass Angler Bruce Neal (1958-2018)