INSIDE BASS: TWO VAGABOND PROS FISH ALL FOUR OPEN CIRCUITS

It's a good bet that the busiest two anglers in America this fall were Ray Brazier and Raul Morineau.

Although 28 pros competed on more than one CITGO Bassmaster Open circuit presented by Busch Beer, Brazier and Morineau crisscrossed the country to fish all four divisions.

Tennessee's Brazier fished three Central and Southern Opens, along with two Northern and Western events.

Morineau did him one better. The Mexico resident, who also has a home in Texas, put big-time mileage on his private plane by competing in all three tournaments in all four divisions.

"It was a lot of traveling, but it was a lot of fun," the personable Morineau said. "I fished a lot of new places and met a lot of nice people."

Brazier, who works as a performance specialist for Triton Boats, did not have the luxury of air travel en route to fishing 10 tournaments.

"It was a lot of driving," he said. "My Dad and I did a lot of all-night driving to get it done. It didn't help my fishing any, though. (I did) terrible.

"Last year, a lot of the guys (on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour) did not want to go out to California, but I wanted to (for the Opens). From a sponsor's standpoint, I've gotten more exposure than anyone else. And those fishermen out there have a lot to teach us."

WAY TO GO, BINK. Hats off to Bink Desaro. The Idaho angler won the points title in the Western Division and became the lone non-Tour pro to earn an early invitation to the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.

The other 11 Classic qualifiers competed on the 2003 Tour: Art Ferguson, Michigan; Kevin Wirth, Kentucky; Chuck Economou, Florida; Edwin Evers, Oklahoma; Tim Carroll, Oklahoma; Steve Sennikoff, Texas; Tim Horton, Alabama; David Walker, Kentucky; Denny Brauer, Missouri; Skeet Reese, California; and John Murray, Arizona.

FRITTS' FEAT. Former Classic champion and BASS Angler of the Year David Fritts is almost as serious about deer hunting as he is about tournament bass fishing. For nearly a decade, his obsession with stalking whitetails has taken him to Canada.

Last week, Fritts' money and efforts paid off as he bagged a giant 12-point buck that will earn a place in the Boone & Crocket record book. The deer weighed 260 pounds and sported huge antlers that scored 188 points (the Boone & Crocket minimum is 170).

Fritts had hunted for two weeks in Saskatchewan before killing his trophy. He spotted the buck on the second day of his trip, but did not shoot because he underestimated its size. He captured it on video and showed other hunters who insisted that it was well worth harvesting. The next time it came near his stand, Fritts downed it.

DID YOU KNOW? Two anglers have won more than $300,000 in a single Bassmaster season — Denny Brauer ($347,000 in 1998) and Dean Rojas ($333,000 in 2001).

PRO BIRTHDAYS. Two veteran Bassmaster pros, Jim Bitter (61) and Terry Baksay (43), share Nov. 28 as their birthday. Alabama's Gerald Swindle becomes 34 on Dec. 17, while Chris Baumgardner of North Carolina turns 43 the next day.

IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO… Kentucky pro Mark Menendez says, "I would most likely be in either the real estate business and/or the vending machine business. That's what I was doing to foster my early career."

THEY SAID IT. "I'm fishing real relaxed and just going with the flow. But it's still important for me to catch fish and come up on the stage for my sponsors. And I like to cash a check every tournament I fish." Florida pro Chuck Economou fished the recent Southern Open on Lake Eufaula with the knowledge that he had already qualified for the 2004 Classic via the Northern Opens.