(Dec. 21, 2010 - Celebration, FL)...
Have Mercer: Think of a boy anticipating Christmas morning, a boy who knows that the biggest package under the tree has his name on it. That’s how Dave Mercer says he feels about getting started in his new job as Bassmaster emcee, beginning with the Feb. 18-20 Bassmaster Classic.
"I can’t wait to get to February," Mercer said from his Toronto office, still weeks away from the Classic in New Orleans. "Very few people get to experience their mega dream ? and everyone has one, even if it is so big that they can’t even express it. My big dream has always been to emcee the Classic."
First days on the job are never easy, but Mercer’s first day is likely to top almost anyone’s experience. He will be on stage, live, in front of thousands of Classic fans. He will be emceeing a weigh-in that will be broadcast by ESPN2.
Perhaps making his debut as Bassmaster emcee at the Classic will help Mercer segue into the other part of his dream job: emceeing the Bassmaster Elite Series’ eight regular-season events and two postseason tournaments. That part of the job will begin in March and continue through midsummer.
Mercer, 36, can easily relate to tournament anglers because he used to be one himself. At 13, he entered his first event and won $400. The idea of being paid to go fishing was irresistible. He continued to compete throughout high school, and even got into guiding anglers. Yet it was his ease in front of a camera ? and what he called "this mouth" ? that led him into a career in TV entertainment.
"I have this mouth that, growing up, teachers told me was going to get me into trouble. And now it gets me a job." He was half laughing as he spoke, but in obvious awe of life’s most recent gift to him.
Many fishing fans already know Mercer through his Facts of Fishing TV shows, aired on World Fishing Network and on The Score, a Canadian sports channel. He said his newest online venture, Facts of Fishing FYI, is also building a fan base. The show is his spontaneous take on "fishing news, views and info you can’t use," as his intro describes it.
With a family in Toronto and a work schedule that puts him constantly on the road, Mercer was a busy guy even before he accepted the Bassmaster emcee gig. Still, he wants to continue with the TV products he created.
"That’s the plan right now; check back with me midseason," he quipped.
Top Bassmaster stories of 2010: The five biggest (OK, arguably the five biggest) Bassmaster stories of the year were:
- KVD wins Classic crown: Kevin VanDam scored his third Bassmaster Classic victory in February, when he was the reigning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. Then, at the end of the season ?
- KVD wins Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year: VanDam took his third consecutive and sixth AOY title (1992, 1996, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2010). As remarkable as his come-from-behind win was, VanDam still hasn’t beat Roland Martin’s nine AOY titles earned from 1971 to 1985, but KVD did match Martin’s triple of 1971, 1972 and 1973.
- Youngest and oldest Elite Series pros in history: Guy Eaker, who turned 70 in November 2009, became the oldest pro in Elite Series history when he made his first cast in the March 2010 season opener. At the same event, 19-year-old Bradley Roy became the youngest angler to compete as an Elite Series pro. Eaker retired at the end of the season. Roy wrapped up his first year with Bassmaster Rookie of the Year honors.
- B.A.S.S. purchase concludes: After almost 10 years of ESPN ownership, B.A.S.S. was acquired by Don Logan, Jerry McKinnis and Jim Copeland. An agreement in principle was announced in August, and the sale was completed Nov. 1. ESPN2 will continue to air the Bassmaster Classic and Bassmaster Elite Series TV productions.
- Young Federation Nation champ joins Elite Series: Brandon Palaniuk became the first B.A.S.S. Federation Nation champion to exercise his option to join the Elite Series. Palaniuk, 22, also can claim to be the youngest qualifier for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. He will not, however, be the youngest to ever compete in a Classic. Stanley Mitchell, for example, at age 21 competed in ? and won ? the 1981 Classic.
45 seasons and counting: Less than one month from now, B.A.S.S. will kick off its 45th tournament season.
The first event of 2011 will be the Jan. 20-22 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Tohopekaliga out of Kissimmee, Fla. Next after that will be the big show, the Bassmaster Classic. It will be Feb. 18-20 on the Louisiana Delta out of New Orleans. Then the schedule picks up the pace with 10 Elite Series tournaments through July (eight regular and two postseason events), and eight more Opens.
The first Bassmaster season consisted of one tournament in June 1967. It was on Arkansas’ Beaver Lake. The age of B.A.S.S. as a company is calculated from 1968, the year Ray Scott founded it in Montgomery, Ala.
Special treatment: Reserved weigh-in seating for each day of the Feb. 18-20 Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans is just one of the perks being offered to B.A.S.S. Life and Federation Nation members who sign up online through Jan. 21.
Two new features this year make the deal sweeter. One: Member credentials will be mailed before the event. Two: Each online registration is also an entry into a sweepstakes to win a VIP backstage tour.
Life and Federation Nation members also can RSVP online for the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Preview Hour presented by Berkley. This preview of the big consumer show, the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, will be held 11 a.m. to noon on Friday, Feb. 18, before the show is open to the public.
Life members can receive up to three guest passes per day for the weigh-in as well as enjoy use of a lounge reserved for their benefit.
Federation Nation members can request one guest pass per day. B.A.S.S. Federation Nation presidents and conservation directors will receive front-row seating within the reserved Federation Nation section.
Bradley Roy’s newest sponsor: Bradley Roy, the 2010 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year, has picked up another sponsor.
Roy ? at 20, the youngest pro on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour ? now has Taylor Man’s Custom Lures behind him. The company makes premium hand-painted spinnerbaits and other lures in Reidsville, N.C.
"They’re as fanatical about hooks as I am ? Gamakatsu all the way," Roy said in a statement about his new endorsement deal. "People would be amazed at how often pros change crankbait hooks. You can’t do that with jigs and spinnerbaits, so it pays to go top-of-the-line."
Happy Holidays! B.A.S.S. Reporter’s Notebook will take next week off, then return Tuesday, Jan. 4. We leave you this year with a virtual toast for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications ? Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times ? comprehensive Web properties in the Bassmaster website, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.