For those of us who knew Mike Bucca back when he was “Triton Mike,” a friendly fisherman looking for his place in the industry, it’s a little bit surprising to see him at a boat show, selling his namesake Bull Shad swimbaits. The dude is a rock star – posing for pictures, signing autographs, kissing babies. Watching him at the Richmond Fishing Expo this past Saturday reminded me of my 2007 trip to the Yokohama Tackle Show, where fishing fans lined up 100 deep to shake the hand of Yuki Ito of Megabass.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s about damn time. I can sort of understand being star struck at the sight of KVD or Skeet or AMart, all of whom have achieved incredible things in the sport, but why not show equal respect for the men and women who produce the tools that enable us to catch more fish on our own?
Frankly, the boat and tackle shows in our area are only a shell of their former selves, so I was disinclined to drive the 80 miles to the Expo on Saturday until I heard that friends like Bucca and Lin Bell of Fishing Pro Tech would be there. I’m a big fan of anyone who’s doing something slightly different from the norm, taking chances and trying to put better products in my hands. For my efforts, Bucca gifted me a prototype swimbait that he believes is perfect for my next trip to El Salto. “Go test it out,” he implored. “See what it does for you.” It’s a privilege to earn that responsibility. He probably could’ve picked someone with more swimbait knowledge and skills than me to test it, but there’s no chance he could’ve found someone more appreciative.