A Fly Guy Lost In a BASS World

Really...what sort of redneck goes to a B.A.S.S. tournament?  I guess I do...

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.

Not tenkara

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?

Skeet Reese's awesome monstrosity of a ride

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.

What's $50...?
The Dirty Dozen

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.


  1. Lots of $$$$ in bass tournaments. No fighting the fish though. It's hook 'em, haul 'em, and keep the big ones.

    1. Yeah, it's totally different from what I'm used to. Not bad, just different.

  2. It's certainly a different world than the one I live it.

  3. Looks like a really fun event for sure!

    1. It was. Well organized, friendly people, no complaints!

  4. Sounds like you had a good time. Did you happen to catch my recent report from the Bassmaster Classic when it was in Birmingham? It was a first me (and I'm a southerner who mostly fishes for bass), and I admit I enjoyed it... even though I know it's a little bit like Nascar with fish.

    It also sounds like you need to get out there on that lake with some big poppers and an 8 wt real soon.

    1. Didn't see your post until now...WOW! You were at the biggie, loved the arena shots.

  5. I think B.A.S.S. and it's associated organizations/celebrities has done more for catch and release fishing than any other org. out there. We should be grateful for that.

    1. Yep. The fact that (for better or worse) most people wouldn't think of keeping a bass has to be attributed to them.

  6. Where does one apply to get such a job? We should start a "tenkara masters" tournament....I would give up my job in a NY minute to do that for a living.

    1. We should try it. I'll use my professional ties to organize the sponsor-laden jerseys everyone will wear.

  7. Michael
    Back in the day I use to be into the tournament fishing scene for bass with the big Nitro and Stratos boats and all the fishing tackle that went along with it; but as soon as my Son-in-law introduced me to trout fishing all of that faded away about 12 years ago. Man if I had all that money back I spent on boats, tackle, gas, and lures I could take many Montana fly fishing trips with ease. It was fun while I was doing it but as I look back now I wish I had been fly fishing all those years when I was younger. I guess I can I say now I am making up for lost time with the fly rod? I know now I will spend the rest of my fishing days with the fly rod in my hand as opposed to an Ugly Stick casting rod. Thanks for bring back some expensive memories


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