First, there’s Denny Brauer, 55, the all-time BASS money-winner with nearly $2 million in prize winnings. Denny’s résumé includes a CITGO Bassmaster Classic victory, a BASS Angler of the Year title, 15 tournament wins and 18 Classic appearances.
Following in his footsteps has been Chad, 32, the young lion with one BASS victory and two Classic appearances to his credit.
But the best Brauer of all may still be several years away from joining the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail.
Get ready for fourth-grader Colby Brauer.
“He’s the most competitive ten-year-old I know, bar none,” his proud grandfather said. “He’s a very intelligent young man who’s already taking advanced classes. He has a very analytical mind. He continually asks questions and wants to learn more. He picks up on stuff really quickly and easily.”
Both dad and granddad have known for a while now that Colby will likely be extending their legacy in the sport. Colby caught a 7 1/2-pounder when he was two-and-a-half years old while Denny hung onto his belt loop.
Denny did an episode of his ESPN television show, “Bass Class,” with Colby when he was just five. With the cameras rolling, his asked his grandson to give a little seminar on jig fishing. “I thought, ‘This is going to be funny. He won’t say much.’ But Colby looked directly into the camera like he had been doing it for years and proceeded to recite my video on flipping word for word. I was sitting on the rod locker and just lost it. I started laughing, and he turned to me and said, ‘This is serious.’ Then he turned right back to the camera and finished his seminar. It was the most precious stuff.”
During a trip to Mexico last summer, Colby ran with the big boys, catching an eight-pound, two-ounce trophy that capped a five-bass limit weighing better than 28 pounds!
“I was totally blown away on our Mexico trip,” Denny said. “We were spending the whole day in the boat fishing a technique that’s not his strength — deep Carolina-rig fishing. We had spent a day preparing for it before we went down there, and he absolutely did great!
“Most 10-year-olds can’t cast a baitcaster, let alone cast a Carolina rig or determine when they’re getting a bite on it or get a good hook-set or fight a big fish in by themselves. Colby did it all — all day long, four days in a row. We had adults on that trip that could hardly get out of bed the next day and go back to it.
“I didn’t do a thing for him that one day in Mexico, and I was fishing as hard as I can fish. My best five probably weighed a little over 20 pounds. He kicked my butt. I didn’t believe it. It just fascinates me. He’s at a level that most 15- or 16-year-olds might be if they fished a bunch. Knowledge-wise, I think he’s better than an awful lot of adults.
“He’s far ahead of where I was at his age, and I think he’s way, way ahead of where his dad was, and his dad started fishing with me when he was in diapers. Colby’s just the most competitive person I know.”
When Denny is home in Camdenton, Mo., he tries to spend a day working with Colby on a single technique.
“The other day – out of the blue – he goes, ‘Grandpa, I’m going to give it five years, and if I’m not on top of the game in five years, I’m going to law school.’” Denny recalled. “He said, ‘Law school would take me like eight to ten years. That’s why I don’t want to do it first. I’d be too old to give fishing a try.’
“I don’t know where he came up with that.”
CLASSIC WISHIN’. During a recent visit to Pittsburgh, site of the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic, BASS record- holder Byron Velvick of The Bachelor fame talked about his desire to return there next summer as a Classic contender.
Velvick, who was in Pittsburgh to promote the popular ABC show, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he had never envisioned fishing a Classic on the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.
“This will be new to everyone, because everybody kind of raised their eyebrows when Pittsburgh got the Classic,” Velvick was quoted as saying, “but once you come out and see the three rivers, I think this is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for us to learn about a new body of water and for the city to show the rest of the country what a fabulous fishery you have. I'm impressed.”
REMARKABLE SPORTSMANSHIP. In this day of “basketbrawls” and steroid-tainted baseball records, Tim Horton recently related an act of sportsmanship unlike anything found in other sports.
“The final day on Lake Okeechobee at the Southern Open event, Greg Hackney was fishing the same area I was,” Horton said. “As a matter of fact, we were probably never more than 20 yards apart the whole day because those fish were really confined.
“About halfway through the day, Greg caught about a seven pounder, and I only had two little fish. At that point, we both knew that he was ahead of me by a couple of pounds. I started really feeling the pressure and unconsciously fishing a lot faster than I should have because of the stress of all of a sudden being behind in the tournament. As I went by Greg, he said, ‘Hey man, just slow down and take your time. My main goal is to win the points (title). You’re going to win this tournament.’
“Here he is giving me good advice when I’m the only person with a chance to beat him. For him to make a comment like that shows an incredible level of sportsmanship. That knocked my socks off. We should all strive to be more like. That was really impressive.”
As Hackney predicted, he went on to win the Southern Open points title, and Horton won the tournament.
CHARITY WORK. A team of professional anglers will travel the country next year intent on raising awareness and funds for diabetes. The “Fish to Cure Diabetes” effort will include Lee Bailey, Randy Yarnall, Dion Hibdon, Bill Brendle, Greg Fender and Clark Wendlandt
Proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. For more information, go to www.fishtocurediabetes.org.
DID YOU KNOW? One in every 188 households in the United States has a BASS member.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle becomes 35 on Dec. 17th, while Chris Baumgardner of North Carolina turns 44 the next day. Kentucky pro Dan Morehead will be 36 on Dec. 22nd, while Kim Stricker of Michigan will celebrate his 34th birthday on Dec. 27th. Former Classic champion David Fritts (48) and Arkansas’ Mike McClelland share (37) Dec. 29th as a birthday.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO… Shaw Grigsby, an eight-time BASS winner, started off in the pest control business, but the Florida pro says he would likely be working as a fishing guide if his tournament aspirations had gone sour.
THEY SAID IT. “Right now you could drop him off on Mars and he’d bring you back a limit. What a great guy.” Tour pro Marty Stone comments on the brilliant consistency of Greg Hackney.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, 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.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.