Martin and Wilkinson won the tournament by catching a 16-pound, 3-ounce, five-fish limit, which was nearly five pounds better than second-place Kevin Wirth and partner Russell Garner’s catch (11-5). Martin said he participated in the event because he believes in the cause it supports. “Contributing is the biggest thing here,” said Martin, of Clewiston, Fla. “This a great opportunity to affect someone’s life and as you can see, the response here is great.”
Throngs of spectators came out to the Silver Spurs Arena in Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee to watch the weigh-in on Sunday. Much like Martin, Kentucky’s Wirth was focused on the cause. “Bar none, the chance to contribute and make a difference is the most important thing I am a part of this week,” the 43-year old said.
Wirth, a 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series angler and 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic contender, will stay in Kissimmee to spend some much needed time on Lake Toho, site of the 2006 Classic. Wirth is one of 51 anglers who will compete for the $500,000 grand prize on Feb. 24-26 next year.
“I’m really excited about the Classic,” Wirth said. “Lake Toho has treated me really well in the past and sometimes I just get in a rhythm out there and feel like I can catch a big stringer.”
Perhaps the most exciting part of the weigh-in was New Jersey’s Michael Iaconelli showing off his infamous break-dancing skills at the request of event host and fellow angler Terry Seagraves. But before he did, Iaconelli urged the crowd to give to the V Foundation. And they delivered. More than $700 was raised with Iaconelli’s stunt, including $100 from Seagraves himself.
Other 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series anglers participating included 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Aaron Martens, Alabama’s Tim Horton, and an army of Floridians: Steve Daniel, Preston Clark, Terry Scroggins, Peter Thliveros and Charlie Youngers.
ESPN and the late Jim Valvano created The V Foundation in 1993. Valvano, the legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN broadcaster, won the hearts of sports fans across the country when his underdog NC State Wolfpack captured the NCAA Basketball Championship in an upset win in 1983. Valvano died of cancer when he was 47.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.