Taking Care of New Friends

BASS Reporter’s Notebook

On the surface, the Sooner Run stop of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series back in June on Grand Lake in Oklahoma doesn’t look like one that Elite pro Ken Brodeur would recall fondly. But even though Brodeur, 43, finished 89th, the tournament has been a highlight of the Connecticut pro’s season.

That’s because Brodeur made a difference in the lives of several residents of Home of Hope, a private, non-profit residential facility serving people with developmental disabilities.

During a meet-and-greet session, the 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship winner signed autographs for several residents of Home of Hope, who had traveled to Grand Lake to watch the Elite Series tournament. Brodeur later spoke with the home’s manager, who explained that the group was building a fishing pond as a recreational outlet for its residents.

Brodeur visited the facility in person and offered his advice on how to best tackle the project. But even with Brodeur’s sage advice, there was still a big challenge – outfitting the residents with bait and tackle.

Brodeur was so moved by the passion of the residents on this project that he contacted several fishing industry insiders and secured a donation of rods, reels and a large supply of lures.

“It was just a really cool thing that happened,” explained Brodeur’s wife Julie. “Ken was just signing autographs and talking to the people from this home, and the next thing you know he’s able to get them all this fishing tackle for the pond they were trying to get going.”

This week, Brodeur will be in action at the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Tour event on Lake Champlain, where he placed 43rd in an Elite Series stop earlier this summer.

Tour tunes
The top six anglers and co-anglers in the most recent Mercury Marine Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats event in North Carolina had the opportunity to pick the music that would play as they entered Cricket Arena in Charlotte to weigh their fish on the final day of competition.

While music is blind to race, religion and sex, at least one angler chose a song that would never be heard during an Elite Series weigh-in.

South African Christie Thomas came barreling into the arena on her boat while the hip-hop song “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls pumped through the speakers. The song’s chorus includes the lyrics, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”

Patti Campbell chose a more ambiguous song – “Vertigo” by U2 – while Tammie Muse rocked the arena with AC/DC’s “TNT.”

Monica Altman and Linda Berry played to the crowd with “Carolina Girls” by Chairmen of the Board – the tournament was held on North Carolina’s Lake Norman - and Ronda Kirby got huge applause when fans heard her song: The Beach Boys’ “Help Me Rhonda.”

Home cooking
The final Bassmaster Major of the 2006 season is scheduled for Aug. 24-27 on the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Ark. The Bassmaster Legends tournament, which will award $250,000 to the winner, celebrates the contributions of BASS founder Ray Scott, who helped define tournament bass fishing in the late 1960s when he began hosting professional tournaments and then founded the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.

It’s ironic that Arkansas was selected as the site of the Legends tournament in part because Scott’s first-ever professional tournament, the All-American Invitational, was held on Arkansas’ Beaver Lake in 1967.

The Arkansas River also has played host to two CITGO Bassmaster Classics, including the 1984 Classic, one of the most memorable events in BASS history. That’s when legendary angler Rick Clunn posted the heaviest winning weight in Classic history, doing so while his father lay ill in a Texas hospital. Clunn weighed his fish the final day with two future American presidents on stage with him: then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and then-Vice President George Bush Sr.

Arkansas also is the native state of Jim Kientz, Scott’s good friend and the executive director of Ray Scott Outdoors. And Kientz may be looking forward to the Legends as much as Scott.

Kientz, who now lives in Alabama, still has a lot of pride in his home state. Last week, he sent invitations to friends and family, asking them to attend the tournament and show the bass fishing world how much Arkansans love bass fishing.

“We just attended a huge tournament up in Charlotte, N.C. … the folks in Charlotte got a little carried away and boasted they had the biggest and best crowd ever,” Kientz wrote in his invitation. “They have never been to Arkansas. What I’d like to do is to expand this invitation by asking you to personally invite every person that you know – regardless if they are a bass fisherperson or not. We would like to send a message to BASS, to ESPN, to any other organization out there – in fact to the whole USA that the Legends Tournament was the best of the best and better than the rest.”

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation 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 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, call 1-877-BASS-USA or visit http://www.bassmaster.com.