Fishing & Boating News

Inside Bass: No Time To Rest For Some Classic Pros

(Aug. 17, 2004 - ) After competing in the biggest event in the bass world with all of the associated hoopla and fanfare, the very next week 11 pros who competed in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer hit the road again, headed for locales like Catskill, N.Y. and Paducah, Ky., to chase their first chance at Classic requalification through the CITGO Bassmaster Opens presented by Busch Beer.

On the surface, it would seem to be a difficult mental transition for these anglers. But in reality, it's all part of the job in a profession that knows no off-season.

The 11 pros included Chad and Denny Brauer, Mike McClelland, Mark Tucker, Yamaha Pro Harold Allen, Gary Klein, Peter Thliveros, Kevin Wirth, Art Ferguson, Edwin Evers and Yamaha Pro Dustin Wilks. Missouri's Tucker had the most success with a 15th-place finish in the Central Open in Paducah.

Arkansas‚ McClelland left the Classic in Charlotte and drove to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to pick up a new boat. He was barely home long enough time to load and organize it before heading for Paducah to start the new season.

To hear him tell it, the transition wasn't difficult.

"For me it really wasn't that tough," he said. "I was pretty fired up about getting started back up and having a good year and qualifying for the Open Championship.

"After my somewhat dismal finish, I was looking forward to fishing another tournament. Don't get me wrong - the Classic was a wonderful experience and just getting there was a big deal. But I was looking forward to getting to a body of water where I knew I was going to be fishing shallow. That was a nice change compared to all of the deep fishing I did in the Classic.

"I didn't have a great finish at Paducah (44th) by any means, but it really wasn't that big of a deal to quickly go from the Classic to the Open. I think the guys that have been fishing events the way we've been forced to fish them over the past few years have learned how to go directly from one to another. It's just one of those things - you put the last event out of your mind and you go to the next event with a clean mind and new slate."

MORE ON DUSTIN'S GESTURE. We reported last week about Yamaha Pro Dustin Wilks‚ kind gesture - giving a bag of soft plastics to a local kid fishing off a dock during the recent Classic - which was captured by Mike Zlotnicki, outdoors writer for the Raleigh News and Observer in North Carolina.

After our report, Zlotnicki received the following e-mail from Michael Felder:

"I was reading the Bassmaster Web site and saw the article by you about the boy fishing and that Dustin Wilks gave him the pack of Culprit worms. That boy was my 10-year-old son, Drew Felder, from Denham Springs, La. We were staying at the McDowell Nature Center and he was down at the docks fishing and he came back with the pack of worms. I asked him where did he get those and his response was, 'Dustin Wilks gave them to me.' I know that you didn't know that that boy would ever read that article, but thank you. This was his vacation and going to the Classic was what he wanted to do."

MORE CLASSIC MUSIC. Here are a few more choice selections by the Classic contenders:

  • Jim Bitter - "Don't Mess Around With Jim" by Jim Crocie.
  • Peter Thliveros - Molly Hatchett's "Gator Country."
  • Greg Hackney - "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" by Big & Rich.
  • Mark Tucker - Hank Williams‚ "A Country Boy Can Survive."
  • Kevin VanDam - "Simple Man" by Lynard Skynard.
  • Jay Yelas - "Higher" by Creed.
  • Davy Hite - Guns and Roses‚ "Sweet Child of Mine."
  • Tim Horton - "Yeah" by Usher.

REDFISH RIDERS. In their other fishing occupation, BASS pros Stephen Browning and Jeff Coble qualified for the upcoming Redfish Cup Championship.

By catching 23.60 pounds of redfish and finishing 22nd in the redfish tournaments‚ season finale Saturday in Chalmette, La., the pair secured 18th place in the yearlong standings. That propelled them into the championship event, which is set for Sept. 3-5 in Titusville, Fla.

"It's a neat deal to make the championship in our first year," Browning said. "Coble said yesterday, 'I guess we're officially redfishermen now.'

"It's a lot of fun. You catch so many 3- and 4-pound fish and they fight three or four times harder than a smallmouth and 10 times harder than a largemouth."

LURE FOR A CURE. The second in a series of limited-edition lure kits designed to help fund cancer research through the V Foundation was introduced at the recent Classic.

Conceived by Florida's Kissimmee-St. Cloud Convention & Visitors Bureau and Florida pro angler Terry Segraves, the "Lure for a Cure" kit introduces three limited-edition lure colors designed by top pros.

Seagraves and fellow pros Peter Thliveros and Roland Martin designed Bomber Lures to go in the kit, which will retail for $14.95. Proceeds from the sale of each lure kit will go to the foundation, which was started in 1993 by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the popular basketball coach and commentator who lost his battle with cancer 11 years ago.

"Lure For A Cure is the product of a lot of focused energy on the part of many interested parties, all of whom recognize how devastating cancer is, and want to help find cures," said Tim Hemphill, executive director for the Kissimmee-St. Cloud CVB.

"It is through the heartwarming and conscientious efforts of people and agencies like these that enable us to fund essential cancer research," added V Foundation CEO Nick Valvano. "We welcome members of the sport fishing industry to our V Foundation family. This is such a popular family sport and we look forward to involving everyone's support in our efforts to make my brother Jim's final dream a reality - that the disease that claims so many of our loved ones, will be eliminated."

DID YOU KNOW? Besides 2004 Classic champion and Yamaha Pro Takahiro Omori, only five other international anglers have ever qualified for the world championship: Gerry Jooste, South Africa (1994, ‚95, ‚97), Canada's Hank Gibson (1990), Toshinari Namiki, Japan (1997), Norio Tanabe, Japan (2000), and Kotaro Kiriyama (2000, 2001, 2002), also of Japan.

PRO BIRTHDAYS. Ohio's Joe Thomas turns 42 on Aug. 19, while Florida pro Doug Gilley becomes 72 on the same day. Massachusetts‚ Danny Correia will be 41 two days later. Arkansas Mark Rose will be 33 on Aug. 22. Top western pros Aaron Martens (32) and John Murray (40) share Aug. 24 as their birthday.

IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO[/b]- Edwin Evers, a rising star from Oklahoma, says he would likely be working in his father's Sears store.

[b]THEY SAID IT. "It started out with a bang and it definitely didn't end up the way I would have liked. But you know, I gave it my best shot. I don't have any regrets about it." Michael Iaconelli on the roller-coaster ride he endured during the recent Classic that included catching the biggest bass of the event and being in second place after the first day, as well as getting disqualified in the second round and attacked by wasps on the final day.