“Are you here for the fishing thing?” the fellow at the hotel desk asked.
“Yes, but how do you know?” (I wasn’t wearing my “Just Keep Reeling” hat or signing in with my lure shaped pen to give it away.)
“Everyone is here for it. We are booked solid.”
Right now, near Greenville, South Carolina, there is a huge event in the fishing world. 52 of the best bass anglers are competing in the Bassmaster Classic which has often been referred to as the “Super Bowl of fishing tournaments.” The timing of the event is no longer in February so maybe it is more like the “March Madness of fishing tournaments.” Then again, it is not a team sport; it is an individual competition. More like golf, where you must play the course under the existing conditions… I digress. Whatever, it is a really BIG deal.
Win this, and you walk away with $300,000. And then there will be media outlets all over the country who want your story and sponsors who want you to use their products. Unless a repeat winner, it will be a life changing event for someone. And there will be huge crowds watching. The event will have a “$20 million impact” to the region, according to Duane Parrish, S.C. Dept of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.
Pretty amazing considering one is just catching “little green fish,” as Kevin VanDam has called them. Also amazing is that the tournament anglers transport the 5 biggest bass that they catch each of the three days in their boat live wells to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, about 45 minutes away, where they are weighed, and then hauled back to Lake Hartwell, healthy and ready to be caught again another day.
Thinking of trying to make it on this tournament fishing stage? I asked a few for words of advice.
Jordan Lee, a youngster but now in his 4th Classic offered, “Patience. It won’t happen overnight. And have things stable at home.”
John Crews: “Catch fish. Worry about the sponsors later.”
Skeet Reese: “You have to be able to catch fish. It takes time on the water. It is work. Which is fine, as long as it is your passion.”
Brandon Palaniuk: “Do it for the right reasons. You have to love it. There will be more failures than successes.”
And from 1st time Classic competitor, Mark Daniels Jr.: “There are so many opportunities these days with Junior High teams, college teams. Stay in school.”
As if the NCAA basketball tournament wasn’t enough of a distraction at work, one can even follow the Bassmaster Classic competition through the next 3 days. We just can’t get enough of fishing. After all, there is always something to learn from those “little green fish.