Between rumors, innuendo, strategic leaks and occasional snippets of fact-based reporting, it now appears that there will be three major bass tours in 2019. Both the peoplewhoknowmuchmorethanme and the peoplewhoknowmuchlessthanme seem to agree on that, despite not agreeing on much else.
With two and half Elite Series tournaments left this year, everyone is still fishing for something – everything from the AOY, to requalifying to just plain pride. If the season were to end today, young Bradley Roy would be our AOY, and usual suspects like AMart, KVD, Skeet, Palaniuk, Swindle and Hackney would be in the Classic.
I love this time of year, when there are back-to-back Elite Series tournaments with an overlapping FLW Tour derby on a premier smallmouth fishery for good measure. It’s an abundance of riches for pro bassing freaks like me, with not quite enough personal bandwidth to give it all the attention it deserves.
I first met Ronnie Moore at the Elite Series event on the Delaware River in 2014. I needed a ride to the ramp one morning and somehow ended up in the passenger seat of Ronnie’s silver pickup, where I was treated to a 75 mile per hour run up the road, dodging early commuters and running up on a sidewalk or two as we hauled the mail to get there in time for blast-off.
Back in December I wrote a column arguing that the return of David Fritts to B.A.S.S. tour-level competition would be a story to watch in 2017, and then I more or less forgot about it. To be honest, given the Crankmaster’s most recent FLW campaigns, I figured there was a better than even chance that he’d end up as roadkill against the Palaniuks and Jordan Lees of the world. Nothing against the guy, whose credentials more than speak for themselves, and with whom I’ve spent some time in the boat, but this a take-no-prisoners league.
In most sports, you are either done in by a gruesomely Theismann-esque injury or by a coach who cuts your underperforming butt and sends you back to bagging groceries or (if you’ve had a little more success) to a life of leisure and autograph signings. [The one exception to this seems to be heavyweight boxing, where fighters are never really retired, they’re just waiting between fat-free infomercial grill inventions for another payday].
When Mark Rose qualified for the 2017 Elite Series tour, I assumed he’d make the leap from FLW. After all, while I can think of plenty of anglers who’ve gone in that direction to further their careers, when anglers have gone in the other direction it usually has been by necessity rather than choice.