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Scenes from the Show Me State: Another Notch on the Belt

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June 28, 2011

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As Marv Albert might say (in between bites), it was a “double bonus situation.”

I traveled to Missouri to cover the PAA event on Table Rock Lake. I knew I’d get a chance to visit the Granddaddy of Them All, the main Bass Pro Shops location in Springfield. That’s where the pre-tournament meeting was held. But I had no clue that the event would turn into a twofer. The final day weigh-in, it turns out, was held at Branson Landing, a shopping center on the banks of Lake Taneycomo featuring another BPS, just 40 miles down the road from the uncle Johnny’s main outlet.

I’m not quite sure why this tickled me so much. After all, most Bass Pro Shops locations have essentially the same products. Nevertheless, it’s still exciting to walk in the door (On an unrelated note, what ever happened to the old Uncle Buck’s calendar? If you were a male teenager in the 80s, you know the one I’m talking about).

Anyway, this rare double got me thinking about how many BPS locations I’ve visited. By my count, I’ve hit the following:

  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Springfield, Mo.
  • Branson, Mo.
  • Bossier City, La.
  • Gurnee, Ill.
  • Hanover, Md.
  • Hampton, Va.
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Orlando, Fla.

That’s an even dozen.

I’ve also hit the lame airport outlets in both Houston and Branson.

I’ve driven by BPS in both Grapevine, Texas and Harrisburg, Pa. without stopping.

Other than tour level pros, are there people who have been to 20 or more BPS locations? Is it like major league ballparks, where there’s a subculture of freaks who try to visit every outpost?


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2011 14:36
 

Double Your Pleasure?

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June 27, 2011

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Congratulations to Adrian Avena, who won $29,153 at the Lake Champlain EverStart this past weekend against a really stout field of anglers. Additionally, he set a new standard for fishing sponsorship bigamy.

Note the shirt: Triton Boats.

Note the hat: BassCat Boats.

He might’ve been wearing his lucky Cajun boxers, too (please tell me they don’t have a picture of Ricky Green across the cheeks).

What’s the story here? Can he double dip on bonus bucks or do the two logos cancel each other out, leaving him with nothing beyond his generous prize package from FLW?

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Last Updated on Monday, 27 June 2011 08:22
 

Failing at the Tour Level – Who Is to Blame?

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June 24, 2011

You may never be as good as KVD, but surely you can outwork him, right?

“Can” is the operative word here. “Won’t” better reflects the reality, because while KVD is on the road 270+ days a year, competing, working for sponsors and fulfilling various media obligations, way too many less-established and less wealthy pros are sitting on their butts at home.

He’s working harder AND smarter than them.

Who doesn’t want to make more money? Apparently most of the tour-level pros don’t. If they do, they’re simply not taking care of things as they should. “It’s a business,” they say, but they treat it more like a half-assed hobby.

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Last Updated on Monday, 27 June 2011 14:57
 

Scenes from the Show Me State -- Woo Gets Whiter

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June 24, 2011

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As the PAA pros waited out a lightning delay this morning, Woo "Call me Casper" Daves prepared for the sun's rays, which may or may not show up today. He borrowed some Blue Lizard sunscreen from Mark Menendez and applied it liberally.

Maybe the 2000 Bassmaster Classic champion is hoping that some of Mark's Day One big fish mojo will rub off on him. Woo didn't do poorly -- he had over 12 lbs. and sits in 17th -- but Menendez whacked an 18.60 lb. bag, including a 5.53 lb. largemouth.


If nothing else, Woo got his money's worth. "That's about $25 worth of sunscreen on his face," Menendez said.

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Last Updated on Friday, 24 June 2011 16:14
 

Scenes from the Show Me State -- Cooperation

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June 23, 2011

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Driving back from the pre-tournament meeting at the Bass Pro Shops mothership on Wednesday, I passed the Fin & Feather tackle shop just a mile down the road. Making a highly illegal u-turn, I was in their parking lot faster than Aaron Martens can tie a San Diego Sling. Yes, I'm cuckoo for fishing gear.

After snapping a few quick pics, I walked in the door and was greeted by two easygoing guys sitting behind the counter. "What were you taking pictures of?" they asked, in a totally non-threatening manner. I explained that I write for the Yamamoto website, that I'm the failed founder of a 12-step tackle addiction program and that I was looking for any local lure oddities they might have on the shelves.


What I really wanted to say is: "You must have cojones the size of softballs to set up shop just down the street from BPS."


I phrased it as follows: "I always like to buy from the little guy, and I'm amazed that you've been able to survive this close to Bass Pro."


They then told me that they'd been in the same spot for 27 years and that they actually get a fair amount of referral business from their neighborly megamart. "It's a lot easier to work with them than to fight against them," one of the guys told me. Hmmm. In an industry where everyone always seems to be trying to cut each other's legs out from under them, that was a refreshing attitude.


I paid for the items I'd accumulated, got back in the rental car, and headed back to the hotel. Don't curse the darkness -- light a candle.

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Scenes from the Show Me State – Welcome to Branson!

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June 23, 2011

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Greetings from Branson, Missouri, where I have traveled from my otherwise sheltered habitat to cover a PAA tournament on Table Rock Lake. I would have written sooner, but every time I venture out of the hotel parking lot I get stuck in a massive traffic backup – it appears that local custom is to take the speed limit, divide by two and drive at 10 mph less than that.

But enough of my northeastern snobbishness, you probably want to hear about the buffets!

Homer Simpson said that Branson is “Las Vegas if it were run by Ned Flanders.” That’s apt, but it leaves out one important element – the fact that old Neddy would have to be chugging a 50/50 cocktail of LSD and Pop Rocks to come up with something this insane. Looking out my hotel room window, I can see another hotel shaped like a riverboat, a 40 foot tall chicken and a place called “Baldknobbers” (afraid to find out what that is). 

Venturing a little bit further away, I need only follow the long trail of vomit to get to the rides of Silver Dollar City. There’s a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum here (the punctuation is part of the official name). Frankly, the only thing I can’t believe is that Yakov Smirnoff still has a career, let alone his own dinner theater. Apparently we did not win every aspect of the Cold War.

If it’s music you like, we have a variety. There are the Texas Tenors, Twelve Irish Tenors and Three Redneck Tenors. No other registers need apply. Tony Soprano would be voted off the island.

Despite the fact that I will probably have zero time to partake in any of these cultural wonders (though funnel  cake waits for no man), I did get a chance to knock another item off the bucket list yesterday when I traveled to Springfield for tournament registration. The process took place in the Granddaddy of Them All, the flagship Bass Pro Shops store. There’s also a smaller (and tackle-free) BPS in the Branson Airport (the exterior of which looks like it could someday house a BPS).

My kind of place.

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RoboAngler

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June 20, 2011

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I’ve seen plenty of evidence on the water that KVD is not one of us – for example, at this year’s Classic I had a front row seat for three days in the Tank Pond area of Cataouatche as he fished the same area as anglers including Scott Rook and Aaron Martens, with the same damn bait, and it seemed like every time they boated a two-pounder he’d raise them a fiver. But it’s not just in the boat that he distinguishes himself. Watch any interview with the King of Kalamazoo (apologies to Derek Jeter) and you’ll see that he’s a media freak, too. To the best of my knowledge, he doesn’t have any formal media training and didn’t attend college, but the dude could put on seminars for the rest of the pros. With the possible exception of Iaconelli, no one gives such detailed and complete answers as Kevin. Sure, he has the occasional grammatical glitch, a few misstatements here and there, but those pale in comparison to the polish that he spits out every day.

The part that’s really scary to me, however, is the one tic that he’s developed. You won’t pick up on it in written interviews or radio pieces, but it’s evident in just about every TV interview or video piece that he does. The interviewer – whether it be Tommy Sanders, Mark Jeffreys, Mark Zona or some local TV joebagofdonuts – will ask a detailed question and halfway through you’ll see KVD give a slight nod. It’s like the answer has locked into his head. The questioner hasn’t finished his thoughts and KVD has already formulated a fully-developed response, including answers to the parts yet unasked. He’s like a Jeopardy! contestant who buzzes in before Alex finishes the question (or, in that case, before Alex finishes providing the answer). To mix our game show metaphors, all you need is Regis asking “Is that your final answer?” and KVD could go to town.

Watch for the nod.

 

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An Exception to the Rule

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June 16, 2011

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I've been pretty vocal about the fact that I generally hate nicknames that are composed of an athlete's initials or otherwise contract the letters in his name -- ARod, DWade, KVD and the like. I haven't previously mentioned it, but I also dislike it when people give themselves nicknames. It just strikes me as wrong. A nickname should be bestowed upon you by an outside source.

Well, pictured here is the exception to both of those rules.


It's my friend Jason Williams, who gave himself his nickname and it's composed of initials....sort of. I wasn't there when it happened, but as it was related to me, at a dinner the night before a tournament at Buggs Island he told the assembled crowd to call him "JBD" from now on. "What does it stand for?" they asked. "Jason Black Dam," he replied.


Classic. Just classic.


I've been fishing with JBD for a little over two years now and I'm consistently impressed by his sense of humor, his eagerness to learn and, most importantly, the fact that he can't wait to get out on the water. He's as eaten up with the sport as anyone I've ever met. On top of that, he has fantastic instincts that can't be taught -- you'll be fishing a grassline and he'll suddenly fire a cast away from it, out into open water, and latch onto the biggest fish of the day. I've seen that happen to him too many times for it to be just random horseshoe-up-the-butt good luck.


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Last Updated on Thursday, 16 June 2011 07:39
 

The Shirt Off My Back

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June 15, 2011

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OK, after years of making fun of club-level anglers and their shiny shirts, I've gotta fess up -- I wore the GYCB jersey to an 80 angler tournament on Saturday and looked damn good doing it.

I've now worn it three times in tournaments. It has produced my two best bags ever on the Chickahominy River (finished 1st last year and 2nd this year) and sucked on the Potomac, so I think I've figured out that I'll only wear it for away games.


You may think I'm generally pretty funny looking, but a frogged-up five-pounder can make anyone look pretty flippin sweet.


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Happy Feet?

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June 14, 2011

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What’s missing from this picture of the area under the console on Andy Morgan’s boat?

Andy would probably say “nothing.”

My friend Bill Roberts, a certified Luddite, would probably agree. Over the course of his fishing lifetime, Bill has owned about 322 Ranger Boats. He’s been buying them since before Forrest Wood added the “L” but it wasn’t until his 2010 model that he finally got a GPS unit. Until then, when asked why he hadn’t installed one his stock answer was, “All you need is a good compass.” Bill has never had a hot foot, either, which is why he was pleased when he drew Andy at the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. They bonded over their refusal to adopt this piece of equipment.

To the best of my memory, Andy is the only tour pro I can recall who does not put a hot foot in his boats. I’m sure there are a few others, but they’re certainly in the minority.

Sometime between 2007 and last week, I asked Andy why he didn’t utilize this creature comfort. It allows you to keep both hands on the wheel, which to my way of thinking is an advantage in rough water. His response was twofold: (1) On long runs his foot gets tired or uncomfortable from having to depress the pedal; and perhaps more significantly (2) he’s a flipper and may hit 50 or 100 spots in a day. Often he’ll idle from one to the next sitting high on the seat to look out for shallow obstacles and targets. That seating position doesn’t allow him to reach the pedal.

Do any of you know any other tour level pros who don’t use a hot foot? I’d bet that if there are any they’re typically older than Morgan.

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