CLASSIC NOTEBOOK: ONE FOR THE TEAM

As those associated with the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame will learn Saturday night when boat-manufacturing icon Earl Bentz is inducted as a member, he can’t get far in a conversation about his industry without mentioning fishing. It’s tough to have one without the other.

So it’s not surprising he would contrast the two when explaining his business.

“While a professional bass fisherman has to have a support team, it’s pretty much an individual sport. You have a rod and a reel and a lure and try to catch a bass,” said Bentz, 52, president of Nashville, Tenn.-based Triton Boats – the third boat company he has founded.

“Boat manufacturing is such that we have a lot of people on our team. I’ve had 650 employees. We have engineers who design. We have great people who build for the plant. We have wonderful people in our marketing department who spread the word and get our marketing message out to salesmen, who call the dealers and sell. We have the pro fishermen who work promotions for our dealers to help them sell. And we have truck drivers who deliver the boats to dealers. So there are hundreds of people.”

And it is to his employees Bentz will dedicate his Hall of Fame induction that, for the first time, will be held in conjunction with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.

“It’s one for the team, no question about that,” he said. “While I receive the accolades, they’re the ones who deserve the credit. It just so happens that I’m the guy at the wheel.”

Of the many certificates of appreciation that hang from the wall at Triton headquarters, this award will rank highly for the former speedboat record holder who also has competed in his share of bass tournaments.

“This is one that you’re nominated and elected by your peers, people in the industry. This is certainly different,” Bentz explained.

“There’s been a lot of sacrifice over my career. I’ve been married 23 years and I have three children, and some of the time I didn’t get to see their basketball games or track meets. I was off working boat shows. My family’s here with me and they, too, are part of the recipients of this award.”

Based in Hot Springs, Ark., the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame on Saturday also will induct former BASS tournament director Harold Sharp of Chattanooga, Tenn., and two-time Bassmaster Classic champ George Cochran, also of Hot Springs, Ark., as well as former BASS Tour angler Billy Westmorland of Celina, Tenn., as its first posthumous induction.

The Hall of Fame is independently owned and not associated with BASS.

‘Lure for a Cure’ benefits The V Foundation

The V Foundation for Cancer Research received a major boost Saturday from the fishing industry when it was presented with a check for $10,000, representing proceeds from the first series in the “Lure for a Cure” kit.

“Our base cancer-research grant is $50,000; we’re a fifth of the way there,” said Joyce Aschenbrenner, vice president of The V Foundation for Cancer Research, which is headquartered in Cary, N.C.

“Lure for a Cure” was conceived by Florida’s Kissimmee-St. Cloud Convention & Visitors Bureau and local pro angler Terry Segraves.

The original kit featured Heddon lures designed by Segraves, Tim Horton and Sam Swett. Proceeds benefit The V Foundation, which was founded in 1993 by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the popular North Carolina State hoops coach and commentator who lost his battle with cancer 11 years ago.

The check was issued to the foundation by the Kissimmee-St. Cloud Convention & Visitors Bureau and Heddon.

“The program has been better than we thought; we’re looking to just expand it,” Aschenbrenner said during a media luncheon in Charlotte.

The latest series in the “Lure for a Cure” program was introduced by Segraves at the luncheon. The second-edition kit features Bomber Lures designed by Segraves, Peter “T” Thilveros and Roland Martin.

“I’m going to contribute all my time and effort in a bigger way,” Martin said when introduced at the luncheon. “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

Over and above the fund-raising element of the lures, they produce results, Segraves said: “These are proven fish-catching colors.”

Aschenbrenner, a cancer survivor who was given a 15 percent chance to live after being diagnosed five years ago with a malignant melanoma, was overwhelmed by the presentation.

“I an honored, honored, to be part of the new relationship,” she said.

The Kissimmee-St. Cloud Convention & Visitors Bureau also operates its annual Angling Against Cancer Benefit Dinner and Tournament, from which it raised $50,000 at its 2003 event.

“The annual event in Kissimmee each November has been an incredible collaborative effort and work in progress,’’ said George McNeilly, ESPN V Foundation Committee member. “BASS and ESPN Outdoors are delighted to support and help it grow to benefit The V Foundation for Cancer Research.”

Surprise! Bass boats presented to Junior Bassmaster World Champions

Sean Alarid and Bradley Roy already had enjoyed the thrills of their lives this week when they were crowned the first Junior Bassmaster World Champions. But things got a whole lot better Saturday, when they were brought to the stage at Charlotte Coliseum.

In a surprise that was kept secret by BASS officials all week, Sean, Bradley and their families were given Triton boats fully rigged with Mercury outboard engines, as well as expense-paid, four-day, three-night trips to Walt Disney World

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Alarid, 15, of Oakley, Calif., who aspires to be a professional bass angler and exhibited calm nerves during the presentation. He won the 15 to 17 age division in Monday’s Junior Bassmaster World Championship. “It was great.”

Roy wasn’t nervous, either, as the revelation was revealed.

“I was stunned. It was unbelievable,” said Roy, 13, of Lancaster, Ky., winner of the 11 to 14 age division.

Bradley plans to break in his new Triton – complete with “Junior Bassmaster World Champion” emblazoned on the side – on his home waters of Harrington Lake. “It’s going to feel a little different fishing in that boat,” he said.

The boys also were awarded trophies and $5,000 college scholarships.

After the presentation, the teens nodded their consent when Triton Boats president Earl Bentz asked if they planned to defend their titles by entering the event next year.

“This was the icing on the cake for us this week,” Bentz said of the Triton presentations. “We’ve often said that children are the future of our sport; they’re the next generation.

“Fishing is a good, clean sport and it gives kids an opportunity to form a stronger bond with their parents, because it’s a family activity.”

BASS Youth Manager Stacy Twiggs explained it was quite a mission to keep the special presentation a secret all week.

“We just tried to keep it confidential,” Twiggs said.

BASS officials ferried Sean and Bradley to all BASS events and purchased new airplane tickets in order to keep them busy and on hand until Saturday.

THAT’S OMORI … THE MUSICAL

Outdoors writer Steve Waters of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel showed off a hidden flair for writing lyrics after the Classic’s first round. Waters found his inspiration in day one leader Takahiro Omori and the old standard “That’s Amore.”

Among Waters’ tweaks to the Dean Martin classic: “If he catches five bass/and he needs just six casts/That’s Omori!/He can flip!/He can crank!/He can fish/On the bank!/That’s Omori!”

Now, Waters’ only problem is finding a rhyme for “Rojas.”

For additional information, visit www.bassmaster.com.