Conservation Profile: The Bass Federation

Category: article

 Nov 10th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Nov 10th, 2008 at 12:00 AM

In part 2 of the BassFIRST interview with Robert Cartlidge, the President of TBF, we cover how he sees the TBF helping the future of fishing, why he is the leader at TBF and what the future may hold for sport fishing in the United States.

– Does your organization have support from grassroots organizations?

RC – We do have partnerships with a number of organizations.

BF – Do you own a boat?

RC – Yes I do, I am a proud owner of a Ranger Boat and have been for more than 20 years. 

BF – How many times per year do you go fishing?

RC – LOL currently not nearly as much as I used to or would like to, but I would estimate from a boat approximately 30 or 35 times a year. However I do have a two acre pond right outside my office and routinely make a pass around that!

BF – How many employees does your organization have?

RC – Our focus is to support fishing. We have nearly 30 thousands members, 1900 clubs, 47 state federations, 7 unpaid national officers and the entire organization contains only 4 full time and one part time employees. Everyone else is a volunteer. Our administrative costs are minuscule for an organization our size and our staff is very talented and very dedicated people.

BF – What role do you see for your organization in the future regarding sport fishing?

RC – Obviously we intend to continue to reach out and grow not only our organization but fishing in general. Both on our own and in conjunction with our industry partners. TBF, as the largest grassroots fishing organization, is the foundation certainly of the Bass fishing industry and we are expanding into Walleye and other segments. It is our members who buy the product and spend the money that supports the industry.  So the stronger we are, the stronger our industry partners are and the stronger sport fishing is. There are so many opportunities out there right now. Perfect examples of this are TBF’s new Student Anglers Federation our goal is to introduce 200,000 children in the public schools to fishing over the next year. It is an ambitious goal but based on the feedback so far, it is one we think we can reach or the TBF College Federation, Association of College Anglers that now has 46 colleges, over 500 members and in conjunction with our media partners at Careco multimedia, will conduct 7 nationally televised Collegiate fishing events next year, including the BoatUS National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship.  Or our partners at FLW Outdoors new Fantasy fishing game, here’s a online program that anyone can play for free, it introduces new people, people who have never fished before and that might not otherwise be reached, to fishing, and it is has the largest fantasy prizes of any fantasy league, including football or baseball or anything else. From the comfort of their own computer anyone can get exposed to fishing and they can win up to a million dollars doing it! Those three programs alone are huge new exposure for sport fishing. On the conservation front, TBF will continue to be a strong voice for conservation and anglers rights as we always have been and we will fight the fights that need fighting as well as put our time, labor and funds toward making sure that sensible conservation of our national resources stays at the forefront so that future anglers can benefit from them.

BF – What is your personal fishing background?

– I grew up fishing and hunting, came up through the federation ranks, first as a club member, club president, state conservation director, state tournament director, state president for ten years, Central Division Representative and then Corporate President and CEO of TBF, INC. I have been blessed to have earned the Oklahoma State Champions Title twice, (1998 and 2007), and qualified for the Oklahoma Bass Federation’s State top 12 team a total of 19 times.

BF – Why are you the head of your organization?

RC – LOL, I guess I did not know any better than to raise my hand!   Honestly for me it is about giving something back that someone gave me when I was a young person. I have three nearly grown children of my own, nieces and nephews, their kids and someday I hope grandkids. I want to make sure that future generations have the same opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in a quality fashion as I do. I have seen first hand what the federation does and can do and they are an awesome group.

I know all anglers out there think from time to time about taking their kids, grandkids or future kids or grandkids out and enjoying the outdoors with them, they want it to be a quality experience for them, that why they belong. I know it sounds kind of corny but I honestly believe that quality time in the outdoors makes us better people and a better nation of people.

BF – Why should recreational anglers trust you to do right by them?

RC – It is something they will have to decide for themselves and I encourage them to get involved, join TBF look into it, and to do just that. For me personally the question is simple really. I am one, an angler myself that is and I believe it gives me a perspective that a “generic” corporate suit that is just in it for a job and does not fish, or have the pasion for fishing cannot possibly have.  I make a comfortable living in the oil industry and have for over 25 years. I have served TBF the company as the President and CEO since it was formalized in 2003 and have done so without pay, as have the rest of my corporate officers and board members.  Certainly it won’t always be that way, I think we certainly have earned it, but at the same time we are committed regardless and it is not a concern or a need for any of us. What I can tell the anglers of America is that it won’t happen with “their” money as all dues are paid back to the membership program and a dollar for dollar accounting is given to each state President once per year, nor will it happen until all other primary needs are taken care of first. I do not think there is another national organization whose corporate officers work full time for free. I would hope that says something about our motivation. In general, I am a very straight forward person, there is no question you can’t ask, you may not like the answer but you will know where I stand. And finally at the end of the day as TBF members if I, any of the national officers or their state officers for that matter, are not doing the job that they think should be done, they should vote us out of office. It really is that simple. 

At the end of the day it is about service. Business (in general) is really not that hard. Give a customer a good value for their commitment, do what you say you will do …even if it hurts, always strive to “over deliver”, understand someone is going to make a mistake at some point… own up to it, make it right and move on. That is all people really want in any business I think.

BF – Where do you see the future of sport fishing heading in the United States?

RC – I would not be doing the things that I am doing and I would be lying if I said I was not concerned about the direction that our sport COULD take. That’s why we do what we do. But overall I think our future is very sound. It is sound in my opinion because of the people and companies in it. The people and companies in the sport fishing industry are passionate, good and caring people who are willing to fight for it and put their hard earned time and money into it to support it. 



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