The 'Duel' Begins for Youngest Rookie, Oldest Vet
BASS Reporter's Notebook
YOUNGEST ROOKIE, OLDEST VET: The 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series season has begun. Not the competition - that won't happen until the TroKar Duel in the Delta starts Thursday out of Stockton, Calif. Nonetheless, Elite pros are more than a day into a very important part of the event: practice.
Some pros need more practice than others. That's not necessarily because some are less skilled than others, but because they are less experienced. Not to mention that before the official practice time commenced Monday (March 8), several had never even laid eyes on the intricate network of bass-rich waters that comprise the California Delta fishery.
At 19, Bradley Roy of Lancaster, Ky., is the youngest rookie. At 70, Guy Eaker of Cherryville, N.C., is the oldest Elite pro; he's announced he'll retire after the 2010 season.
"Yesterday (Monday) was my first time on this body of water," Roy said. "It could have been worse, but it certainly wasn't the best fishing. They're still in a winter pattern, and I struggled a bit."
Is he nervous?
"Oh, yeah, but then again, I am trying to see it as just another tournament," he said.
Bittersweet is how Eaker feels at the start of his final year as a pro angler. On the one hand, he is elated because on the first practice day (Monday, March 8), he hooked and boated the largest bass of his career, a 14-pound, 1-ounce, largemouth.
"It was one of my bigger practice days," said the modest Eaker. He said he weighed the lunker twice with scales he had onboard, and possesses several photos taken by fans watching him on the water.
"I probably caught 37 pounds altogether. But you can catch them in practice and the weather will change like it is doing with this cold weather and winds, and it all changes. But it could be a heck of a tournament if we can get a little warmer weather."
AUTOGRAPH TIME: Bassmaster Elite Series pros weren't allowed to begin practicing on the California Delta until Monday, March 8, but most did not stand around waiting.
Many, however, stood in Northern California fishing tackle stores to meet fans. Autograph sessions were hosted by two area stores, Delta Outdoors in Oakley, and Fisherman's Warehouse in Manteca on Saturday, March 6.
To the delight of fans, 18 Elite anglers gathered at Delta Outdoors.
A smaller number took turns at the autograph table at Fisherman's Warehouse. Three are home-state favorites in the TroKar Duel in the Delta: 2009 Bassmaster Classic champ Skeet Reese of Auburn; the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Aaron Martens, who now lives in Leeds, Ala.; and Fred Roumbanis, now of Bixby, Okla.
Also appearing were 2008 Classic champ Alton Jones of Woodway, Texas; Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La.; and John Crews of Salem, Va.
THE PAIN OF SITTING OUT: Brent "Brody" Broderick of is on the bench with an injured left hand.
The second-year Elite pro from Oregonia, Ohio, was granted a medical leave by BASS tournament officials. His hand has been immobilized in a brace since late December. He's been to three specialists to try to determine the exact problem.
"What I think I have done, is I injured my hand last season - maybe I tore a ligament that didn't heal. Then, over the Christmas holiday, my hand 'popped' - it was so loud, I said out loud, 'What's that?' The next morning, it was swollen and black.
"God knows, I don't want to be injured. There's just no way I could participate this year. It's killing me, but it's only six months for me; they tell me I'll be back swinging again in June. I'll be in a cast or splint until then, and then I'll start my rehab."
Broderick said he will be able to work at his business, an eBay consignment store called Brody of the Lake.
"I sell for all the Elite guys - I clean their garages out. They know I'm hurt, so they've been loading me up (with goods to sell) and I think I have enough work to keep me busy at the computer through June - one-handed."
Meanwhile, he can only watch the other Elite pros compete.
"Monday was a really hard day for me, because I knew everybody was practicing. At least I can follow along online (at Bassmaster.com)."
'BACKSTAGE' HAPPENINGS: Tournaments are a highly visible part of BASS. Behind the curtain, so to speak, many BASS hands are at work to ensure all goes well at every event.
BASS Conservation Director Chris Horton provides a unique support. He leads the BASS contribution in the fight to protect fisheries and boating and fishing rights.
Part of his work is on a high level, serving on the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council. U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently appointed Horton to serve a two-year term. Horton previously served as a council alternate and has been active for years in the council's committee work.
"Without question, the SFBPC is the most important council on which BASS can have a seat," Horton said. "It is the best avenue by which BASS members can have a loud and clear voice with the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other federal natural resource agencies."
Through the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the council advises the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on issues that affect recreational boating and fishing. The council was formed in 1993.
One of the council's most significant recent achievements was its leadership in creating the groundbreaking National Fish Habitat Action Plan, a partnership-driven strategy to restore the nation's fisheries.
For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
As the flagship offering of ESPN Outdoors, the Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com, ESPNOutdoors.com and ESPN360.com, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, BASS Federation Nation and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
BASS offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
Source: bassmaster.com (2010-03-09)