THERE'S NOTHING FISHY ABOUT FLY FISH BETTING



Sports betting began with the basics of football, basketball, baseball and horse racing but it wasn't too long before the growing popularity sports such as hockey, boxing, tennis, golf and auto racing forced bet takers to add those events to their wagering menus.

Soccer, with wagering action offered on more than a dozen leagues, long has been a betting staple for international audiences and you can even find odds on cricket, darts, rugby, snooker, badminton, handball, water polo, Aussie Rules Football, lacrosse, billiards, skiing, ice skating, table tennis and poker.

The Olympics gets its turn on the wagering calendar every two years when sports such as track and field, swimming, bobsled, snow boarding, luge and curling are added to the betting menu.

Most books also offer odds on non-sporting events such as the Academy Awards and presidential elections, as well as the winners of popular reality TV shows such as "American Idol" and Survivor." There even are wacky propositions for things such as Christmas snowfalls or Big Foot sightings.

But while the above compendium of betting options might seem sufficient to satisfy even the most fickle of gamblers, recently, a new sport has cast its line into the wagering waters.

Yes, Bubba, you now can bet on fishing. The sport, if that's what you want to call it, is just a guppy in the wagering pool, with betting restricted to fantasy leaguesfor now. Chuckle if you must but FLW Fantasy Fishing is offering a weekly prize of $100,000 in its online game that asks gamblers to choose 10 anglers, who then receive points based on their performance on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. The bettor who earns the most fantasy points over the seven week season, which ends in August, will receive a cool $1 million, a whale of a payoff by any standard. What's more, there a $5 million bonus to the first player to name the top seven finishers, in order, in the tournament.

The FLW tournament, which is named after Forrest L. Wood, a pioneer of modern bass fishing, expects to award some 4,000 prizes totaling $7.3 million. Beats the hell out of laying -500 on some boxer, doesn't it?

Whether betting on fishing flounders on the bank or is able to bait gamblers into the wagering pond, remains to be seen. But if the fantasy league has legs, err, fins, and the "sport" gets some TV coverage, we wouldn't be shocked to see betting emporiums begin to offer odds on the weekly winners of the fishing competition.

And that could just be the beginning. Like Formula One racing, maybe there also could be a constructor's title, with the manufacturers of rods and reels battling it out for bragging rights while bettors play a future book. We also could see an over/under on the total weight of the fish caught by the winner. Hooking an old tire doesn't count.

The notion of fly fishing betting may seem like a whopper to some but who could have imagined that competitive eating, led by the hot dog consumption contest at Nathan's, would become a wagering phenomena?

Hey, there's an idea; after catching the bass, there are separate betting pools on who can skin and de-bone them the fastest. Then the eaters take over.

There's enough potential here for us to wonder if gamblers will embrace fishing betting hook, line and sinker.