This marks year six of the awards that I’ve named the Peteys and to be honest, I thought about canceling this year’s banquet. It’s been the nastiest year of campaigning in history, with the Twitter wars, the attack ads and that incident where Keith Alan threw a 10XD at Fish Fishburne during the last debate. Despite those hurdles, I’ve decided that the show must go on. It is my duty to make sure that the sport’s best and most notable actions are recognized each season. Besides, what were we going to do with all of the Vienna Sausages and RC Cola that we’d ordered as lovely parting gifts?
That said, this year’s awards were determined a little bit differently than those in the past. Rather than try to ferret out the backroom deals and end the furtive lobbying that tainted some past winners, this time around we’re going to embrace the madness. In the spirit of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, we’ve decided that bribes, payola, lobbying and dark money are more than welcome. Sunlight may be the best disinfectant, but money makes the world go round, so if you want to start working toward a 2017 Petey, please feel free to send gifts, cash, stocks and topwaters to my attention, care of Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits in Page, Arizona. In fact, in order to start the account rolling, this year each award has been endowed by some corporate entity.
As always, these awards come with no cash prize. However, you can add them to your resume and use me as a job reference. So you’ve got that going for you, which is nice.
Award: The Missed Opportunity Award
Endowed By: Lifelock
Winner: The Guy Who Invented the Top Raider muskie lure
For years musky (I never know whether to spell it with a “y” or an “ie” so I’ll use both here) anglers have relied on a big topwater lure called a Top Raider, which features a stationary body and a rotating finned rear end. On the retrieve, it makes a consistent “plop plop” noise. Sound like anything that’s popular in the bass world? Well, the Top Raider guys are pretty much catering to 22 Minnebraskans and 31 Canadians, but when the Whopper Plopper was unleashed every Tom, Dick and Gerald in bassdom had to have several different colors in three different sizes. Cash registers were ringing (and continue to ring) from Florida to California.
Presented By: Jim Bitter and Dalton Bobo
Award: The Longer, Harder, Deeper Award
Endowed By: Cialis
Winner: Skeet Reese. Just when rod technology seemed to stagnate, and every pseudo-pro from the BFLs on up seemed to have a signature series rod in the $100, $150 or $200 price range, Old Yeller threw us a curveball by successfully petitioning BASS to raise the rod length limit. We don’t know what if any impact the rule change will have, but expect to see a bunch of specialized rods sold in the first year as early adopters try to get a leg up on the competition.
Presented By: Thankful rod manufacturers everywhere
Protested By: Marshals who fear having a float n fly or 10XD embedded in their scalps.
Award: The Welcome Back Award
Endowed By: Those “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” bracelet people
Winner: Charlie Hartley, who tearfully left the Elite Series after not requalifying for the 2016 season, will be headed back to the Classic at Conroe, his first since 2008. He’s a fan favorite of anyone who loves the sport and competes for the right reasons. If he wins, expect an after-party better than any previous one, including Skeet’s 2009 Shreveport fiesta.
Presented By: Gabe Kaplan. When not busy competing in the World Series of Poker or portraying Groucho on Broadway, he still contemplates a return to Battle of the Network Stars.
Award: The Never Enough Award
Endowed By: Old Country Buffets, where gluttony is a challenge to be embraced
Winner: Kevin VanDam, who won three B.A.S.S. tournaments this year, and people claimed he had another “down year.” Do you know how many Elite Series stars would give their left ear, their first born and their lucky Top Raider (I mean, Whopper Plopper) to win three B.A.S.S. events over the course of their careers? How about the majority of them?
Presented By: Dick VanPatten, along with child star Adam Rich.
Award: The Wishes Come True Award
Endowed By: The creators of “Shark Tank”
Winner: Andy’s Custom Bass Lures. Connecticut’s Andy Vollombroso has been making jigs for a long time, and plenty of pros use his lures, but it’s tough for the little guy to get any traction against the big bass lure manufacturers. So when the underdog does manage to sign a big name (Edwin Evers), and that big name manages to win a big event (2016 Bassmaster Classic), with a big final day catch (29 pounds 3 onces), it’s a big deal.
Presented By: The Chicago Cubs
Award: The “Is the Ink Dry?” Award
Endowed By: Incorruptible, the newest scent from Calvin Klein
Winner: Bass Cat Boats. The Mountain Home, Arkansas, company did what everyone thought was impossible, sponsoring the thought-to-unsignable Steve Kennedy. It will be strange for many of us to see Kennedy in a new boat, presumably one without electrical tape around the outboard and sporting state-of-the-art accessories. If you’re the competition, you have reason to be afraid – he was already deadly in the tiger-wrapped 2005 Stratos. He’ll be even better now that he’ll have one of the fastest and most reliable boats in the field.
Presented By: Jim Brown, who walked away at the top of his powers, uncorrupted by the chance to cash in his physical well-being.