BASS Elites

The Back-Up-The-Brinks-Truck Classic

The Back-Up-The-Brinks-Truck Classic

It sort of seems like ancient history, but it wasn’t all that long ago that the bass world was frantic about  Powroznikgate. 

For those of you who’ve forgotten, the Bassmaster Classic Bracket tournament on the Niagara River was held in a bracket style format, with the winner getting an automatic berth in the 2017 Bassmaster Classic. Seven of the eight competitors had already more or less clinched spots in big rodeo, with Koby Kreiger being the sole outlier. Jacob Powroznik, Kreiger’s friend and roommate on the road, not only took a dive when he and his buddy were matched up, but he actually coached Kreiger through the process of catching a bass to beat him.

Ghosts of Past Potomac Rodeos - 2007

Ghosts of Past Potomac Rodeos - 2007

The 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series Capitol Clash was the first tournament that I covered for B.A.S.S., and it took a remarkably unlikely series of events for me to get the job.
 
Two years earlier I’d written an article for Bass West magazine about A-Mart’s performance at the Pittsburgh Classic. Soon thereafter, Bass West magazine editor Jon Storm left for a similar position at BassFan. I bugged him for a while to give me some work and eventually he assigned me to write a weekly column called “On Tour With Lucky Craft.”

Ghosts of Past Potomac Rodeos – 1994

[The Bassmaster Elite Series is coming back to the Potomac River for the first time since 2008. This one has special meaning to me not only because I will be working the event for B.A.S.S., but also because it will take place on what I consider my home waters. The next few blog entries will chronicle some of my experiences at past B.A.S.S. events on the Potomac.]

If I hadn’t attended the 1994 Bassmaster Maryland Invitational on the Potomac River, this blog might not exist.

Analyzing the Hacknexit

Analyzing the Hacknexit

It seems that I couldn’t have written a more piss poor prediction had I invented the Sports Illustrated curse myself. Just a few days after I blogged about Greg Hackney being one of three anglers who’d leapfrogged KVD and two others to become the top three on the Elite Series, the Cayuga event concluded with KVD on top and the Hack Attack dead last.
It’s clearly unfair to state that this represents some sort of career plummet for Hackney. His Day One catch was disqualified, and but for that he would’ve garnered some valuable points despite losing his previously substantial lead in the AOY race. The individual tournament result doesn’t reflect any decline in his fishing ability, just a lapse in his decision making ability. He’s still in 5th place in the AOY race, and while this poor finish might ultimately doom his chances of earning his second such Elite Series title, he’s still within range.

Setting Your Sites on History

Setting Your Sites on History

I had to be in South Georgia Monday morning for a media event, so I elected to fly in on Sunday to ensure that I’d be one of the first to hit the water. I had three airports to choose from:

1) Tallahassee, Fla. – the closest to my final destination (90 minute drive), but the fewest flight options, and the most expensive;
2) Jacksonville, Fla. – second closest (2 hours 10 minutes), second most expensive; or
3) Atlanta, Ga. – least expensive, car rental substantially cheaper, but the longest drive (somewhere between 3 and 4 hours).

Two for Two

By Pete Robbins

In 2016, sports is often less about cheering for a team, and more about hoping against some that some other team won’t win. As in: “I’m cheering for [X] and whoever is playing against [Y].”

The rivalries aren’t quite so intense in the world of bass fishing as they are in football or pro wrestling, but there are still favorites and heels, nice guys and ne’er do wells. So far, through two Elite Series events, Leo Durocher has been proven wrong, as the nice guys have finished first.

At the St. Johns River Rick Clunn – a fan favorite, legend, Hall of Famer, and independent thinker – caused a virtual collective cheer when he weighed in a monster bag on Day Three, and then again when he claimed the trophy on Sunday. At Winyah Bay, Britt Myers, a two-time bridesmaid, one of the nicest people ever to cast a Chatterbait, and someone who seems to play the game the right way, came out on top. Once again, just about everyone seemed thrilled.

photo courtesy of BASSMASTER.com

photo courtesy of BASSMASTER.com

I don’t think that many people were actively cheering against Greg Hackney (2nd) or Marty Robinson (3rd) at the St. Johns, nor do I believe that Brett Hite or Kelly Jordon had detractors in South Carolina. While we all have favorites, the bottom line is that few of us lose sleep when our favorites fail to win, nor do we get paid when they do come out on top. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see our overly fractured and cacophonous fan bass speak as one on occasion, and we’ve already had that happen twice this year.

The Rich Get Richer

The Rich Get Richer

As I write this on Thursday night, there’s still a lot of fishing left to go before we declare a Winyah Winner, but if Carl Jocumsen manages to hold on after a killer first day, it’ll be his first B.A.S.S. win. Every winner gets deflowered at some point, but it’s becoming increasingly rare at the tour level.

Circular Logic

By Pete Robbins

B.A.S.S. doesn’t consult me or even preliminary inform me about any of their significant decisions, but like many of you I’m constantly riding the fishing world’s rumor merry-go-round. They’ve yet to announce the location of any Classics for 2017 or beyond, but I’ve heard of a variety of possibilities.

First it was the California Delta, then Shreveport, then Texoma and then Toho. While the rumors had various amounts of traction, each was conveyed to me by someone who had a vested interest (local water, ability to sleep in his own bed, or $$$$) in having the tournament at that particular location.

The latest possibility to light up the Google machine is Lake Conroe. That would be fine with me. I’m unlikely to drive to Houston, but it’s an easy, direct flight from home. The lake isn’t far from a decent-sized arena, it has big fish, and I’ve worked an event there previously – the TTBC in 2009 – so I know that it sets up well for spectators and visiting media.

Perhaps equally importantly, for my purposes, it’s where Rick Clunn guided early in his career.

Due to changes in the rules, Clunn’s win on the St. Johns last week no longer provides him with an automatic berth in the 2017 Classic, but it puts him a damn good position to make a run at qualifying for his 33rd championship, and his first since 2009. I somehow doubt that he would call it a career after that, even if he were to win his 5th title (thereby passing KVD), as he seems to have too much invested in the process to leave while he’s still able to compete. Nevertheless, it would be an awesome opportunity to showcase him, and an oddly symmetrical stop in his lengthy and accomplished career. While I love the idea of driving to Alabama or South Carolina, or seeing records broken on the Cal Delta, for now I’m rooting for a Conroe announcement and a spot in it for Mr. Clunn.

Twice as Much, Half the Battle?

By Pete Robbins

Today marks the first day of the Elite Series event on the St. Johns River, the first day of the 2016 Elite Series season. It’s also the first day of the FLW Tour event on Lake Hartwell, the second event of the FLW season.

That’s disappointing.

By the time you add in the Classic, the TTBC and other postseason shenanigans, we’re looking at about 20 tour-level events per year. There are 52 weeks in the year. It would be nice if they could be spread out a little.

I don’t blame B.A.S.S. or FLW for this overlap. For all I know, they had their reasons and their limitations that forced them into this particular week, but for those of us who live and die with the outcomes of these tournaments, it’s too bad that we’re doubling up.

I’m sure it’ll hurt the feelings of some of the anglers, too. There exists a possibility that some pro will earn the crowning achievement of his career this weekend and when he wakes up on Monday he’ll be the second story on BassFan or, worse yet, placed in the “Dock Talk” section. Unless you’re A-Mart or Andy Morgan or KVD, titles and trophies don’t come around every year, so when you finally get a big break or even a moderate breakthrough, you want to see your name up in lights.