Found out last week that the Bassmaster Elite Series was making a stop about 40 minutes from my house down in Palatka, Florida. With the Saturday weigh-in scheduled for 4 PM, I took the opportunity after lunch yesterday to run down and see what one of these are all about. Anybody who knows me knows I'm willing to try just about anything once...life's too short to "poo-poo" things due to preconceived notions.
Riverfront Park in Palatka is pretty nice. There is not really a whole lot going on in that part of Florida, actually what looks like a lot of farmland in the surrounding areas, but the marina was gorgeous, they really did it up nice.
Plus, pretty much every angler's truck and trailer was parked in the field on the grounds. That was a sight to see. Reminded me of walking around the garage area of a NASCAR race. BASS...NASCAR...uh, what am I turning into?
There was a little expo going on. Basically a bunch of canopies set up, about 2/3 were vendors/sponsors and the other 1/3 was food. Names you'd expect to see where there...Berkley, Shimano, Toyota Trucks, Yamaha, Power Pole, and Costa (which in addition to hocking sunglasses was repping fly fishing via GEOBASS), just to name a few.
|Shaw Grigsby in the Sno-Cone line|
Then the weigh in. Oh, the weigh in. I was not expecting the large stage, big screen TV, and what amounted to a commentators tent (complete with Mark Zona) there for the 50 angler procession.
I was a little bummed by the fact that I suppose the "names" I recognize weren't in the final 50. I guess they didn't make the cut from Friday to Saturday...so no KVD, Ike, or Skeet. Either way, the guys that were there were hauling some big bass (the emcee referred to a few as "Bassquatch") out of their livewells. (Let's be honest, I'm not going to pretend I remember who all of these anglers pictured below are).
In the end, the field was narrowed down to 12 for Sunday's final day of fishing. Chris Lane (pictured above & below) had a pretty unbeatable lead of almost 13 pounds of fish. He had caught over 75 pounds of bass between Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. You can only weigh 5 fish each day, so you do the math on how impressive that is...crazy. The one pictured above was 9 and a half pounds.
Of all the things I guess I witnessed/learned I suppose there were three takeaways...
First, B.A.S.S. throws a pretty fun event. As snarky as some of my comments may have been above, it was top notch and I had a great time. If they show up near you, it's worth taking a look (plus, it's free). If they show up in Palatka again next year, I probably will too.
Second, the anglers seem to just be pretty normal folks. When not in the boats they just hung out among the rest of us; there didn't seem to be any egos.
Finally, the St. Johns River / Lake George in March equals killer sight fishing in 3 feet of water for bass. REALLY big bass.