The 26-year-old Colorado pro was diagnosed this spring with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. Doctors told Edwards his life expectancy was about 18 months if left undiagnosed. Since then, Edwards has battled the disease with an aggressive form of chemo/radiation treatment.
“I’m cancer-free now. Thank God for that,” he said. “As a precaution, I had to still go through 17 radiation treatments. Radiation has been pretty tough on my throat. I have a pretty good chance of burning out my thyroid and I’ve been fighting with the doctors not to put in a feeding tube because it’s been pretty tough to eat and drink. Thank God it will be over with on Tuesday and we’re just so excited.”
Edwards said attending the recent CITGO Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh was a big morale booster for him.
“Everything has been so tough,” he said. “But the fans and everyone out there have just been awesome. I can’t say enough about them. It did me a world of good to be at the Classic to see all my buddies and to talk to all of the fans. That kind of brought me back to life.
“I’m looking forward to next season’s Tour. It’s going to be an exciting one.”
The personable young pro hoped to compete in some CITGO Bassmaster Western Opens this summer, but realizes that isn’t realistic now.
“I tried to get in the boat about a week and a half ago, but the sun burns me extremely badly,” he said. “Right now I don’t think it’s going to happen. The radiation has zapped me so much harder than I thought it would. I’m sleeping five or six hours during the day. I just have no energy. They say it’s going to take me three or four months to start building my stamina back up and start feeling a little more comfortable.
“I hate it because we’ve got Lake Shasta and Clear Lake coming up out west and those are my two favorite lakes. I might go down there and support the guys, but I don’t think I’m in any shape to be competing right now. But it won’t be too far down the road.”
IKE AND THE DAILY SHOW. Colorful former Classic champion Michael Iaconelli reached another unusual platform for a professional angler when he was featured on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” last week on Comedy Central. The channel promoted the segment as a reporter visiting the Bassmaster Classic tournament in Pittsburgh to “meet the sport's most controversial figure in bass fishing, the Punk Bass Fisherman.”
“The Daily Show thing was great,” Iaconelli said. “When I first heard about it, I was excited because it fits my theme of trying to reach non-traditional places. When the producer contacted me and told me about the concept of the show — its tie-in with the Classic — I thought it was a great opportunity.
“The finished piece, in my opinion, came out pretty good. I mean, they can really get up there and butcher something. But I think it came off great. I think it made people aware a little bit more that fishing is a sport. I was happy with it.”
CLASSIC TUNES. You can tell a great deal about an angler by their choice of theme song. At the recent Classic, the 47 contenders were allowed to select their own tune to accompany their entrance into the Mellon Arena. Here is a sampling:
Aaron Martens and Tim Horton — “Yeah” by Usher featuring Ludacris and Lil Jon
Brian Snowden — “All Star” by Smashmouth
David Walker — “Top of the World” by Van Halen
Davy Hite — “U Can't Touch This” by MC Hammer
Gary Klein — “Some Beach” by Blake Shelton
Gerald Swindle — “Bring 'Em Out” by T.I.
Ish Monroe — “Shake That Monkey” by Too Short, featuring Lil Jon and The Eastside Boyz
Jay Yelas — “Higher” by Creed
Jeff Kriet — “Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie
Jimmy Mize — “As Good As I Once Was” by Toby Keith
John Crews — “Jump Around” by House Of Pain
Kevin VanDam — “Rollin' ” by Limp Bizkit
Larry Nixon — “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” by Toby Keith
Marty Stone — “Gimme All Your Lovin'” by ZZ Top.
Mike Iaconelli — “Clear” by Cybotron
Rick Clunn — “Get Over It” by the Eagles
Skeet Reese — “1, 2 Step” by Ciara featuring Missy Elliott
WEIRDEST CATCH. CITGO Bassmaster Open competitor Jeff Hanna is a big fan of buzzbait fishing. But on the final day of a past BASS tournament, the Ohio angler got more than he had bargained for when he hooked a Jack Russell terrier that had been watching him from a nearby dock.
“I threw a buzzbait over toward a dock and I was looking away when I heard a big splash,” Hanna recalled. “Next thing I knew, I had about 7 pounds of dog literally tail-walking. This thing was coming at me, and what do you do? Do you net him? Do you lip him? We got him off and he was in good shape. I’ve just got to be checked for rabies now.”
DID YOU KNOW? Before Aaron Martens, there was Tommy Biffle. Before Martens became the all-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic bridesmaid with three runner-up finishes, Oklahoma’s Biffle was the dubious leader with two second place showings (1990 and 1994) in the Big Show. His 12-Classic record also includes a fourth (1993) and sixth (1998) place finish.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO … Reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Aaron Martens believes he would be a professional volleyball player. “I could have been if I had really gone after it,” he said. “Or a cyclist. I love cycling. When I was 17 or 18, I rode my bike a lot. If I would have had a little push in that direction, I might have pursued it.”
THEY SAID IT. “We’re tickled about it. At the core of everything we do is family. And we now have a competitive set that reaches every member of the family from the juniors to the women and the CITGO Tour and Opens. So we’ve got something for everyone.” Dean Kessel, BASS vice president of operations, on the Women’s Bassmaster Tour, debuting in 2006.
News exclusives, audio and video clips of bass fishing's biggest stars, loads of discounts and more are all part of BASS Insider, an exclusive membership, now available at www.bassmaster.com.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968. Coming in 2006 are an expanded Tour schedule to 11 events, three Majors tournaments and the Women’s Bassmaster Tour.