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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Updated: January 6, 11:35 AM ET
Behind the Lines, 2008


For "Behind the Lines" coverage in 2009, click here.

December 29, 2008

Byron Velvick — Elite Series pro and 2009 Bassmaster Classic Qualifier Byron Velvick will be hosting Going Coastal, an inshore saltwater fishing show that'll feature tips and tactics from some of the best saltwater experts in the country.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be involved in this project," says Velvick. "I grew up working as a deckhand in California on the party boats fishing inshore locations for a variety of species. This is a homecoming of sorts for me.

"I'll apply my skills under the watchful eyes of some of the best inshore anglers and guides we can find. In the process, our viewers will learn tricks and techniques that'll help them catch lots of big, husky saltwater gamefish. It's a great learning opportunity."

The first episode of Going Coastal aired on ESPN2 on Sunday, December 28, at 9 a.m. EST. It featured inshore opportunities near Velvick's boyhood home at Newport Beach, Calif. You can read all about Velvick's saltwater adventures before they're broadcast on his blog, The Velvick Touch.

December 22, 2008

Skeet Reese — Elite Series angler and 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Skeet Reese has entered the world of cyberspace with the launching of his new Web site, www.SkeetReeseInc.com.

"I'm pleased to share my new Web site with the rest of the fishing industry," the Auburn, Calif., angler said. "This is the first time I have launched a personal website. And, in thinking about building one, I wanted to make sure that it mirrored how I've always tried to present myself — in a professional and fun manner."

In keeping with that mission, the site features exclusive educational and entertainment video content with Reese on the water, in his workshop and on tour. Along with video content, there are articles from, and about, Reese as well as audio blogs.

The site also carries a complete online store that serves as the Internet retailer for all of Reese's equipment and tackle. Available items include his signature line of clothing and exclusive releases of new products from Lucky Craft, Berkley, Abu Garcia reels, Lamiglas Rods and Wiley-X Sunglasses.

Skeeter Boats — Skeeter Performance Fishing Boats will once again spread Christmas cheer to needy children throughout East Texas — specifically Gregg, Wood and Smith counties — this holiday season.

The company collected more than 550 toys for its Boat Load of Toys program during the 2008 Skeeter Owners Tournament on Lake Fork.

"Our Boat Load of Toys program was initiated by Skeeter, but our owners are responsible for its success," says Daren Cole, marketing manager for Skeeter Products, Inc. "Each year, we ask those participating in our Owner's Tournament to bring a new toy. Our owners have always stepped up and shown their support for this great cause. 2008 was no exception."

The toys will be distributed through a number of charitable organizations including Hope Haven Home for Women and Children.

"Our organization is truly blessed to have such a caring and compassionate company like Skeeter located in our community," says Sonia Henson, director of Hope Haven. "We are humbled by their gratefulness, and send a sincere thanks to all of the Skeeter owners who donated toys through this great program. I only wish every owner could see the smiles on our children's faces on Christmas morning. It's a wonderful sight."

December 12, 2008

Behind the Lines
Brent Chapman's buck taken on November 29 while hunting near his home in Lake Quivira, Kan.
Brent Chapman — Elite Series angler and 2009 Bassmaster Classic qualifier Brent Chapman killed a giant buck on November 29 while hunting near his home in Lake Quivira, Kan.

"He was a mainframe 10 and scored 183, green," said Chapman after his kill. "I shot him with a Mathews Drenalin bow from about 25 yards. At the time I didn't realize how big he was, but when I got to him I knew he was a big one.

"Bucks like that are why I'm passionate about deer management and deer hunting. That animal doesn't come along every day. If we hunt deer ethically, they'll be around forever. If not, we'll have a problem.

"You can see what I'm talking about if you look at a big wound on his hind leg. We think poachers tried to kill him earlier in the year but, of course, all they did was wound him. How sad is that?"

Boyd Duckett, Mike Iaconelli, Byron Velvick — Elite Series anglers and 2009 Bassmaster Classic qualifiers, Boyd Duckett, Mike Iaconelli and Byron Velvick, made a dream come true for young Zach Messer in Shreveport, La., last Saturday, December 6.

Messer, an avid angler and Aiken, S.C., resident, is a big fan of the three professional anglers. His mother, Cindy, called Velvick to see if she could get an autographed hat or lure as a present for his 16th birthday. Instead Velvick offered to take the young man fishing while he was practicing for the Classic on the Red River.

The details were arranged with Messer and his mother, Cindy, agreeing to meet Velvick on Saturday. All went as planned. The two bass addicts spent a day fishing and running around on the Red River.

"He's a pretty good angler," said Velvick. "As of right now all he wants to do is become a professional bass fisherman. And, from what I saw Saturday, he has what it takes. I can't help but see myself when I look at Zach. I was just like him when I was his age.

"It's great to help a young man get started. I had help and it meant the world to me. I'm glad to be able to give some of it back. Besides, he reads my blog every week on Bassmaster.com. I owe him!"

On Sunday Messer fished with 2007 Bassmaster Classic champion Boyd Duckett. In between trips, he spent some time hanging out with 2003 Bassmaster Classic Champion Mike Iaconelli.

You can read more about the day on Byron Velvick's blog, The Velvick Touch.

Elton Luce Jr. — Elite Series angler Elton Luce is about to double his bag of grandkids. Daughter-in-law Angie — married to his middle son Ryan — will give birth to twins in early May.

"We're real excited. We found out that she'll be having a boy and a girl. We can't wait for them to join our other grandkids, William Justin "Toad" and Bradley Elton "Tater" Luce," said the elated grandfather. "Ryan and Angie are going to name them Austin Michael and Addison Mae.

"Kathy and I will have to start working on nicknames for them shortly. I might call Addison "Tick" because I'm sure she'll get into me. But that might not work for a girl. I don't know about that yet. I'll let you know later."

Behind the Lines
Elite Series pro Jeremy Starks and his whitetail buck taken from public land in West Virginia's Fayette County.
Jeremy Starks — Elite Series angler Jeremy Starks had a memorable Thanksgiving Day. Hunting on public land in West Virginia's Fayette County he killed a massive — for West Virginia, anyway — whitetail buck. The rack scored in the 170 range on the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system.

"I saw it early that morning chasing does and then again about an hour and a half later. That's when I killed it. I've been hunting West Virginia public land for over 20 years. This is definitely one of the biggest bucks I've ever seen in the area," he said while reliving the event. "Our deer eat acorns, not corn and beans. They don't grow as big here as they do in some places."


December 8, 2008

Bradley Hallman — Elite Series angler Bradley Hallman and his wife Dawn are the proud parents of a new baby girl. Katelyn Taylor Hallman was born December 2, at the Lakeside Women's Hospital in Oklahoma City, Okla. She weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.
December 2, 2008

Edwin Evers — Elite Series pro and 9-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Edwin Evers will donate a fishing trip on a private lake, autographed jersey, two rod and reel combos and $500 worth of fishing tackle to the winner of an online eBay auction, December 1-9. Proceeds of the event will benefit Standing in the Gap, a food bank charity that Evers supports.
November 21, 2008

Denny Brauer — Elite Series angler and 1998 Bassmaster Classic Champion Denny Brauer has signed with Ardent.

"I've followed Ardent since the company began manufacturing reels and I have long been impressed with their quality," said Brauer, a Missouri native and the first angler ever featured on a Wheaties box.

"Ardent reels provide me with a substantial performance advantage and competitive edge. I've never fished a smoother baitcaster than Ardent's XS 1000, or one that provides such consistent casting distance. And, I have to say that the Ardent F500 Flip-N-Pitch Reel has me looking forward to next year's tournaments. I can't wait!" Brauer will be featured in a number of upcoming advertisements as the company introduces its F500 Flip-N-Pitch Reel, the first technique-specific reel to join the company's superb line-up of fishing reels and accessories, all of which are Made in the USA.


November 17, 2008

Marty Stone — Elite Series angler Marty Stone has been promoted by BassCat to a rep position for the well-known boat company. He'll be responsible for developing dealerships, offering professional level consumer advice and generally assisting dealers to become more successful across three states — North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

"I can't tell you how happy I am to be in this position," he said shortly after receiving confirmation of his promotion. "My goal is to make this the most successful region in the country. With a quality boat like BassCat and my experience as a professional angler — along with a lot of old-fashioned elbow grease — I'm going to make that happen."

J. Todd Tucker — BASS' newest Elite Series pro, J. Todd Tucker, is starting his new career off with a bang. After joining bass fishing's most exclusive club, the Moultrie, Ga., resident and quail hunting guide announced he's signed sponsorship deals with Southern Woods Plantation (where he guides) and the Congressional Sportsman's Foundation.

His boat will be wrapped by Columbia County, Ga., and Clarks Hill Partnership, a marketing coalition of five Georgia counties that promotes tourism throughout his area.

Kevin Wirth — Retired jockey and 10-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Kevin Wirth has reached another milestone in his quest to become a professional golfer once his professional fishing career is over.

The Crestwood, Ky., resident tied for fourth place in amateur play during a major PGA Tour event, the November 6-9 Children's Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. His second day score of 59 (in a best ball event) was the best posted by any of the 128 amateurs competing.

"It was just one of those rounds," Wirth said after completing the round. "The first day, I was really just trying to stay out of my pro's way. I didn't want to do anything that would hurt their chances. So the first three or four holes I was out of my routine. But from then on I played extremely well. The second day I was a lot more relaxed and played my game.

"I'm happy to have had a good couple of days and to be able to help raise some money for a reputable and worthwhile charity like Children's Miracle Network. That's the most important thing, to help make a child's dream come true. My golf score is secondary."
November 7, 2008

Michael Iaconelli — Elite Series pro and 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion, Michael Iaconelli, recently donated a fishing trip to help Bucks County, Pa., 911 Radio Room Operator, Kristi Depew, who is suffering from breast cancer.

The Delaware River trip was part of a raffle and benefit organized to help defray medical bills and other cancer-related expenses. Sam Wisnewski, winner of the trip, was overwhelmed by the experience of fishing with Ike.

"Prior to our launching, Kristie came to the river to meet Mike. He couldn't have been nicer or more gracious. He gave Kristie an autographed hat and promised to take her fishing when she recovers.

"Our trip was on October 21st. We fished all day. What an experience! We each caught several bass — Mike got a 5 1/2 pounder — and I learned a lot about bass fishing from him. And yes, he really does get excited and yell a lot when he catches one. He can't help himself. It's just who he is.

Behind the Lines
Steve Kennedy, reading a classic to Sophie Mae
"I want to thank Mike for helping Kristie and for taking me fishing. We appreciate it more than anyone will ever know."

Steve Kennedy — Elite Series pro Steve Kennedy and his wife Julia are the proud parents of a new baby girl, Sophia Mae. Sophia was born on October 30th at 2:38 p.m. at the East Alabama Medical Center. She weighed 8 pounds and was 21 1/2 inches long, not counting her full head of hair.

"We waited a long time for this," said the elated father. "It's really great."
October 24, 2008

Mike McClelland — Elite Series angler and six-time Classic qualifier, Mike McClelland, spent some time this past summer fishing with country music artist, Jeff Bates, on J. Percy Priest Lake in Tennessee. In addition to catching a few fish the two men explored the possibility of cross-marketing their respective talents.

"I've fished and spent some time with Jeff over the past few months. He has a new song out, 'Riverbank,' along with a new album. And I have a Tournament Trail to fish next year," explains McClelland.

"We'd like to do something that would benefit both of us. That shouldn't be too hard considering that most bass anglers like country music and most country music fans like to bass fish. I'm sure we'll be able to work something out. I just don't know the details yet."
October 17, 2008

Behind the Lines
Brodie, the latest addition to the Clark household
Brian Clark — Elite Series angler Brian Clark and his wife Heather, of Haltom City, Texas, are the proud parents of a new baby boy. Brodie Clark was born on October 10, 2008, at 2:10 p.m. at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. He weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.

"Brodie is home now with Heather, Ryder and me after some minor medical issues," says the proud father. "There's no doubt he's fine. That boy's really rockin' and rollin' as a full-fledged member of our family. We couldn't be happier."

Marty Stone — Elite Series pro Marty Stone will be flying high on October 29th with the U.S. Air Force. Stone will fly — and he hopes pilot — an F-15E Strike Eagle out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.

"I met Major Fritz Boudreaux at the Toho Classic (2006 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Tohopekaliga in Florida) when he came up and thanked me for some of the things I've done with the Army — help out with tournaments, for example. We've kept up with each other.

"One day we were talking, and I said, 'I've got three things in my life I want to do: I want to drive a NASCAR stock car, I want to fly with a fighter pilot, and I want to train with the U.S. Army Special Forces. I told him I'd done the Richard Petty Driving Experience. He said, 'I think I can take care of the next one.' He has worked relentlessly for the past four months, and it looks like it's going to happen.

"They take certain people up, but it's not often that people outside of their world get to go up. I have some friends in the military that are colonels and they've never once been up in a bird like this. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

"I'll let you know what it's like after the flight. I'll go 1,875 mph. That's a real hoot!"
October 10, 2008

Brian Clark — Elite Series pro and former professional bull rider, Brian Clark, will be appearing at the Texas Motor Speedway on November 1 to promote the Bassmaster Elite Series and the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.

"The details haven't been worked out yet, but I'm really looking forward to it. It's an opportunity to promote our sport and have some fun at the same time," says the Haltom City, Texas, angler.

Asked about the possibility of riding a bull during the promotion, Clark says, "I still have a ride or two in me. And besides, the ride isn't the problem. That's the easy part. It's the landing that gives you problems."

For more details about the event as it draws near, check the Texas Motor Speedway's Web site at www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
October 3, 2008

Edwin Evers — Elite Series pro and nine-time Classic qualifier Edwin Evers may have a tough decision to make in February. His wife, Tuesday, is due to have their baby boy on February 20. That's the first day of competition in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La.

If he forfeits his spot to be with his wife, the Classic field will be reduced by one angler. BASS has said they will not replace him if he doesn't fish. You can read more about Ever's dilemma in his blog postings on BASS Insider.

Charlie Hartley — Elite Series pro Charlie Hartley spent several days this week fishing for charity in Traverse City, Mich. He was one of several anglers who participated in the Michigan Fish with the Pros event (www.fishwiththepros.com) sponsored by Lifeline For Youth & Family Services, Inc.

Local residents pay a fee to fish with top professional anglers. The fishing is followed by an informal weigh-in and awards to the winners. All proceeds from the event go to Lifeline, an organization which offers struggling youth and families the tools to have a hope and a future.

"I don't consider this to be an obligation," said the Ohio based pro. "It's a privilege. We must support our sport and our youth. This is one way to do that. And, most importantly, those of us who have been fortunate in life and gotten a few good breaks along the way owe an obligation to those who haven't. It's the right thing to do."
September 26, 2008

Chris Lane — Elite Series pro Chris Lane is spending his offseason helping kids learn to appreciate tournament angling by supporting Get Reel. Get Reel is a non-profit organization that works closely with its primary sponsor, Keep America Beautiful Affiliate, Keep Winter Haven Clean & Beautiful.

Get Reel offers practical fishing experiences for children and families throughout Florida. They provide fishing equipment and angling opportunities for children that would not otherwise be able to experience the thrill of fishing.

On October 5, Lane will host the first ever Get Reel for Kids Bass Fishing Tournament. It will offer kids up to 15 years old a chance to attend a professionally run bass tournament, learn how the sport works and acquire fishing tackle and memorabilia from the pros.

"We're excited," says Lane. "We expect quite a few pros. Our tournament will pay $10,000 to the winner, assuming a full field of 100 boats, so we should draw a good group of anglers. And our sponsors and other supporters have been very generous. No kid will go away disappointed, I can assure you of that."

The event will be held at the Camp Mack River Resort near Lake Wales, Fla. Competition will be on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. The entry fee is $200 per team and can be paid at the ramp.

Anyone interested in fishing the tournament, donating prizes or bringing children should contact Dawn Decaminada at 863-860-2128 or visit the Get Reel Web site at www.getreelfla.com.
September 22, 2008

Behind the Lines
Allie Housman at the birthday party fishing derby of Caroline and Max Menendez.
Mark Menendez — Elite Series competitor and Strike King pro staffer, Mark Menendez, and his wife, Donna, hosted an interesting birthday party for their children this summer.

They scheduled a joint party for both Caroline and Max. But rather than schedule the usual games and such the Menendez's held a fishing derby for the children in their backyard pond.

Bluegills were caught by the dozens along with quite a few catfish. Topping off the event was a 2-pound largemouth bass and a 45-pound grass carp. The fishing turned out to be so popular that the hamburgers and ice cream had to be delayed until after the bite — the fish bite — slowed down.

There were no gifts at this party, however. Instead, they requested that donations be made to the Ronald McDonald House. A total of $350 was donated.

"The Ronald McDonald House is important to Donna and me. When Max was born, he spent the first 10 days in the hospital. We stayed there during that time. No one knows what something like that means until they need it. We consider it a privilege to be able to return something to them," says Menendez.

And yes, in case you're wondering, Barkley (the Menendez's dog) was there earning his keep as master of ceremonies and general supervisor of events.

Mark Menendez — Elite Series pro Mark Menendez will be the master of ceremonies at the seventh annual Jacob Dugas Memorial Tournament on October 11. The charity event will launch from Doiron's Landing on the Atchafalaya Basin near Morgan City, La.

Jacob Dugas was diagnosed with cervical chordoma cancer at the age of 18. A tumor was found in his neck which was wrapped around his spinal cord. Because of the complexity of the tumor, doctors were unable to completely remove it. For six years Jacob underwent several risky operations and numerous radiation treatments. Jake's struggle ended on May 21, 2002 after the cancer had spread to his lungs.

Despite his illness Jake continued to do what he loved most in his life — fish. Jake's determination and strong will paid off at the Oklahoma Bassmaster Central Open in 2001 where he earned a Top 50 finish.

Proceeds from the event will go to the American Cancer Society and to families of those suffering from cancer. Additional information about the tournament can be obtained from JacobDugasTournament.com.

Behind the Lines
Brian Snowden with the new reading hut he built for his wife Megan's first grade class at Reeds Spring Elementary School.
Brian Snowden — Brian Snowden, Elite Series angler and four-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, has been busy in the offseason helping his wife, Megan, with her duties as a first grade teacher at Reeds Spring Elementary School in his hometown of Reeds Spring, Mo.

"Megan saw a reading hut on the Internet and thought it would be a great idea for her class. It's something that'll encourage kids to read and spend time with books. We need to do that in this age of technology. Computers and cell phones are indispensable in the modern world. But so is curling up with a good book.

"It's really easy to make if anyone wants to copy the idea. The vertical poles are empty carpet tubes and most everything else can be found around the house — paint, glue, paper and a few pillows. It only took about eight hours to build and cost almost nothing," says Snowden.
September 12, 2008

Tim Horton — Elite Series competitor and 2000 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Tim Horton will be hosting his 10th annual Tim Horton Fishing for Kids Tournament on Pickwick Lake out of McFarland Park, Ala., on September 27.

"It is hard to believe this is our 10th annual event. Ten years ago Pam Behnke at Mercury Marine made a small financial contribution to help launch this program. In 10 years we have taken over 1,200 special needs children and adults fishing," says Horton. "The program has become such a success locally that it is now funded by local businesses to finance our small budget each year. I want to thank everyone who's been a part of this program."

Anyone wanting to help — and help is always needed and appreciated — should contact Tim Horton.

Alton Jones — Reigning Bassmaster Classic champion Alton Jones will be making a personal appearance at Reeves Marine in Bossier City, La., January 30 and 31, 2008.

"We're really excited about Alton coming," said Rodney Reeves, who along with his son, Brad, owns and operates the marine dealership. "He'll be here on behalf of Skeeter Boats and our dealership. We have a tank coming for demonstrations and, of course, there'll be an opportunity for autographs and photos for anyone in attendance. It should be a great experience for everyone."

Reeves Marine is the oldest Skeeter dealership in the country. It was started some 75 years ago by Rodney's father, Russell. At that time Skeeter boats were made from wood and were powered by Martin motors. They still have one of the first ones on display.

For specific times and details of the event contact the dealership toll free at 877-733- 8371.

Alton Jones — Legacy Outfitters awarded their prestigious Lifetime Legacy Award on Monday, September 8, to Alton Jones, 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion, before a crowd of 800 men.

According to the organization, "Legacy Outfitters brings together men who share a passion for the outdoors, and gives them the perfect place to share life-shaping experiences in a positive, encouraging environment.

"We long to inspire generations of men who will leave a legacy worth continuing, a legacy of faith in Jesus Christ and of responsibility as a man.

"Legacy meetings and events are carefully designed to shape us for God's glory into being better men, husbands, fathers, churchmen, employers, employees and friends. Whether it's in a golf course clubhouse or at a creek side campground, we know that lifelong friendships are forged as men connect with one another on a meaningful level."

Bill Lowen — Elite Series pro and North Bend, Ohio, resident, Bill Lowen and his wife Jennifer, are the proud parents of a baby girl. Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards) Ann Marie Lowen was born at 4:09 a.m. on September 10, at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. She weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces and was 20 1/4 inches long.
September 5, 2008

Kevin Wirth — Kentucky native and Elite Series pro Kevin Wirth can do more than bass fish. He finished third overall in a five-way tie in the PGA Tour Superstore World Amateur Handicap Championship on August 25-29 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. More than 3,600 golfers from all 50 states and 30 foreign countries entered the tournament.

"I've never made any secret about my love of golf. As soon as I'm old enough, I intend to qualify for the Senior PGA Tour as a professional," says Wirth, without a hint of uncertainty in his voice. "I work on my game every chance I get. That's what it takes."
August 29, 2008

Alton Jones — 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion and Elite Series pro, Alton Jones, will be the keynote speaker October 3rd, at the Bossier City Holiday Inn. The event is sponsored by Bossier City, the Red River South Marina (site of the 2009 Classic's daily launches) and area churches, including the First Baptist Church where Jones will speak on Sunday, October 5th, 2008.

"Alton impressed a lot of people here, not only for winning the Classic, but because he has a great ministry," said Larry Lott, one of the event organizers and co-owner of the marina. "Alton was going to come and prefish, so we asked him to speak to the city as a prelude to the Classic."

Tickets for the dinner will be available soon and can be acquired through the First Baptist Church by calling (318) 746-7940.

Mark Menendez — Strike King pro staffer and Elite Series pro, Mark Menendez, will participate in an Oct. 25th, Fort Campbell Fishing Club event on Kentucky Lake.

"This fishing club is not necessarily a bass club, it's more of a recreational venture of Fort Campbell, but it's for civilians as well as active and retired members of the military," Menendez said.

"This all stemmed from the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Kentucky Lake, when members of the club volunteered to help BASS with the weigh-in. I didn't make the cut in that tournament, but that gave me the chance to meet the club members. I asked, 'What can I do to help you guys?'

"I just decided I'd love to be able to give whatever I could back to the military and put a smile on their faces. What they do allows me to do what I do for a living. It's their blood, sweat and tears that allow us to have the luxury of an organization called BASS. I thought, you know, I'm going to get off my duff and go spend some time with these folks.

"We should have some soldiers there who have just returned home from Afghanistan and Iraq. It's a competition, but low-key, more of a fellowship type of deal than anything else."
Behind the Lines
Ron Phillips Benefit Tournament winners Joe Thompson and daughter Brittany.
August 22, 2008

Rick Ash, Jeff Connella — Elite Series pros, Rick Ash and Jeff Connella along with Women's Bassmaster Tour pros Christiana Bradley and Bridget Allen, have been busy raising money for the Ron Phillips Benefit Tournament and Benefit eBay Auction.

Phillips, an avid Pennsylvania bass angler and junior member of the Marsh Creek Bass Club as well as the Tri-County Bassmasters, has had a tough time of it this year. While playing football in his backyard he suffered a lacerated liver. During treatment for that he was diagnosed with leukemia. He ultimately received a liver transplant and has been making a steady, if slow, recovery.

"This shows us all how fast our lives can change," says Rick Ash. "I know the family; I've fished locally with Ron and his grandfather. It's a real tragedy. He and his family are nice people. I wanted to do anything I could to help.

"The place to start is with the Elite Series guys and the WBT women. They're professionals and good people who help others whenever and wherever they can. I knew I could depend on them."

His faith was well placed. The benefit tournament held on the North East River Upper Chesapeake Bay on August 16 raised nearly $40,000 through tournament proceeds, sponsor donations, raffle ticket sales and direct cash contributions.

The eBay auction will begin on August 25.

"We have several tournament jerseys and other stuff from the Elite Series and WBT anglers. Denny Brauer, Rick Clunn, Mike Iaconelli, Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam have items up for sale. I can't say enough good about how both tours, and some of the Open anglers, have helped us out with this.

"As you know, medical treatment on this scale is expensive and can devastate any family. We can't do much otherwise but we can raise money and we can pray. This is what our sport is all about."

Anyone wishing to bid on items in the auction can access it directly at rpbfund.
August 15, 2008

Mark Davis — Returning Elite Series pro and 2009 Bassmaster Classic qualifier Mark Davis rescued two stranded anglers during the Champion's Choice on Oneida Lake.

"The wind was blowing really, really hard and the waves were high. I was fishing the center of the lake in open water, and I kept thinking I heard someone yelling. I asked the cameraman in the boat with me to use his zoom lens to see if he could spot anything. He said, 'Yeah, I think there's something floating over there.'

"I immediately pulled up my trolling motor and made my way out there. Sure enough, there were two men hanging onto a capsized boat, what looked like a 12- to 14-foot V-bottom model. They didn't have their life jackets on. One guy was holding a big tacklebox.

"They were in bad shape, and they sure were glad to see us. We were able to get them both into my boat ... and the guy's tacklebox."

The men were eventually taken to shore by an ESPN camera boat, no worse for the experience.

Kevin VanDam — 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam had a busy Monday after the last Elite Series tournament of the season on Oneida Lake.

The four-time Angler of the Year winner and two-time Classic Champion was treated to a day at the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., where he was interviewed for Mike & Mike in the Morning.

"I think the highlight of the day for me was Greenie (co-host Mike Greenberg) talking about Sexy Shad," VanDam said. "We wanted to name it something catchy and transcendent — and when a guy who's not an avid angler wants to talk about it, then that strategy worked."

VanDam was also interviewed for segments on First Take and ESPNEWS.
August 8, 2008

Derek Remitz, Gerald Swindle — Derek Remitz, 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year, led Krysta Johnson (13) and Aaron Patterson (13), both from Sanford, N.C., to victory on Saturday, August 2, in a fishing competition held during the Empire Chase on Lake Erie/Niagara River. The team weighed in five fish with a total weight of 14 pounds, 6 ounces.

Johnson and Patterson were among 40 kids who were brought to the tournament by the Future Fisherman Foundation. The children were all treated to a day of bass fishing competition by 19 Bassmaster Elite Series pros who did not make Saturday's cut in the Empire Chase and who work with Angel Anglers.

"It gives us a chance to get to know some people. It puts it back in perspective — what I do for a living, how lucky I've been," said Elite Series pro Gerald Swindle who, along with BASS, helped start the Angel Anglers program. "It's amazing; sometimes the kids don't know what to say, but when they hook a fish, the look on their face pretty much says it all.

"They can't put it in words, but their eyes get big, their heart's beating, their hands are shaking. Fishing has a way of putting the adrenaline in somebody. You hope that when you take a child fishing like that, you change their life."
Behind the Lines
Ken Cook and his granddaughter Rylee.
August 1, 2008

Ken Cook — Taking advantage of his time off between tournaments, Elite Series angler and 1991 Bassmaster Classic champion Ken Cook spent some time fishing with his granddaughter, 5-year-old Rylee.

"We really had a good time. She likes fishing but, as you can see, Rylee's a little bit squeamish about baiting the hook and handling the fish," said Cook. "But, you know, after everything is said and done, this is what life's about. These memories will last a lifetime for both of us."

Behind the Lines
Abigail Sara Niggemeyer was born July 18 in Tyler, Texas.
James Niggemeyer — Strike King pro staffer and Elite Series angler James Niggemeyer is the proud father of a new baby girl. His wife, Sandy, gave birth to Abigail Sara on July 18 in Tyler, Texas, where James and Sandy make their home.

"It's an amazing thing. It really is evidence of God's miracles here on earth," said James, while discussing the birth of his baby. "As for me, I'm really motivated by it. I can't wait to get on the water and start fishing. It's given me a new reason to fish harder and try to do better."

Skeet Reese — ESPY nominee and Elite Series pro Skeet Reese didn't win any awards on July 20 but he did have a good time.

"Overall, I think it was an amazing event. To meet athletes I've watched for years on TV was pretty cool — like Jerome Bettis, Brett Favre, Eli Manning, Annika Sorenstam, the list goes on and on. There were so many world-class athletes from all different sports in one place at one time. I don't think that happens outside of the ESPYs," said Reese after returning from the event.
Behind the Lines
Russ Lane and his bride Jill (Fowler) Lane.
July 25, 2008

Russ Lane —Elite Series pro and Evan Williams pro staffer, Russ Lane, married the former Jill Fowler in a sunset ceremony on Myrtle Beach, July 21. The couple honeymooned in New York City before leaving for Buffalo and the Empire Chase.

"I'm as happy as can be. Jill and I met at an Evan Williams publicity event and were immediately attracted to each other," says Lane. "It's not every day that a man can marry as far above himself as I did. I'm looking forward to a long and happy life with Jill."
July 18, 2008

Four Elite Series pros — Alton Jones, Kelly Jordon, Clark Reehm and Zell Rowland — were among the anglers taking part in the 15th Annual Skeeter Owner's Tournament, June 24, on Lake Fork.

Alton Jones helped Cicero Patton of Bartlett, Texas, win the Skeeter Bug Shootout with a five-fish limit of bass that weighed 6.94 pounds. As well as bragging rights at the dock that will likely last for years, Patton won an all expense paid trip — airfare for two, $500 cash, lodging for four nights, a VIP pass and a special behind-the-scenes tour — to the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, February 20-22, in Shreveport-Bossier City, La.

Kevin Wirth — Elite Series pro, Kevin Wirth, fresh from his first BASS professional win in 14 years, will be a guest on ESPN First Take. His appearance will be live. The show will air on Monday morning, July 21, 2008. For ESPN TV listings, click here.

"The TV appearance is a real honor," said Wirth. "I really don't know what to say. I'm especially glad for my wife and family, and my sponsors. They've stuck with me a long time. They deserve this more than me."
July 11, 2008

Casey Ashley — Casey Ashley, Elite Series pro and country music singer, recently completed the video version of his popular song "Fisherman." It can be viewed for free at OutdoorMusic.com. The song track can be purchased through the same site or from iTunes.com. Future plans for the video include getting it into the rotation on video music television stations GAC and CMT.

Greg Hackney, Michael Iaconelli, Ish Monroe and Peter Thliveros — Professional Elite Series anglers Greg Hackney, Michael Iaconelli, Ish Monroe and Peter Thliveros have signed major sponsorship contracts with Youvella-USA, LLC. Recently acquired by Fish Harder Companies, LLC, Youvella-USA, LLC, holds the exclusive distribution rights for Youvella sportfishing hooks in the United States and Canada. "We're pleased to have anglers of this caliber on our pro staff. Their input will be invaluable as we design and market fish hooks for American and Canadian anglers," said Tim Norman, president of Youvella-USA, LLC. "Putting these top anglers on our pro staff is proof positive that our slogan — Pro Designed, Pro Tested and Pro Approved — is true and will continue to be true."
July 3, 2008

Matthew Spahr — Elite Series angler Matthew Spahr will be throwing out the first pitch to open the Buffalo Bisons contest against the Richmond Braves on July 18 at Dunn Tire Park.

Actually, Sphar plans to be "pitching" the ball with a rod and reel.

"I'm really excited about it," said the Pavilion, N.Y., professional. "I played a lot of baseball when I was in high school, so this really means a lot to me. Several of my family members will attend. This is going to be really special."

The Bisons are a Triple A minor league baseball franchise who play in the International League and are affiliated with the American League's Cleveland Indians.
June 27, 2008

Boyd Duckett — 2007 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Boyd Duckett, in cooperation with TSG Consulting, will soon be releasing a new instructional video. Based on his seminar experiences after his Classic win, the video will detail his approach to competitive bass fishing.

"There will be distinct characteristics to this film. Although the instruction will be broad-based a significant focus will be aimed at anglers who compete, or at least want to compete, in bass tournaments. Boyd believes he has a specific message for this demographic, and we would like to capture the message and capitalize on that market," said Randy Coleman, Vice President, Director of Sports Marketing for TSG Consulting.

Mike McClelland — Elite Series angler (and serious competitor for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year honors this year) Mike McClelland, will run his new Tahoe Smokeless wrap again the this week at the Tennessee Triumph tournament on Old Hickory Lake.

Originally scheduled to operate for only one tournament — last week's Bluegrass Brawl — the Tahoe Smokeless wrap was so successful that it has been expanded for this second event. McClelland's new wrap also carries logos and information for Champion Boats and Falcon Rods, his original sponsors for this season.
June 20, 2008

Russ Lane and Jeff Reynolds — e21Sports, parent company of Carrot Stix fishing rods, announced this week the signing of Elite Series pros Russ Lane and Jeff Reynolds to their national pro staff.

"We met Russ and Jeff at a media conference with Vicious Fishing Line in late May and were impressed with their marketing skills, professionalism and working relationship with the media," said Sean Savoia, sales manager for the Toronto-based company.

"We offered them rods for the event and are thrilled that they joined our pro staff. They're a perfect fit to work with 2007 Bassmaster Classic champion Boyd Duckett and others. We expect this to be a long-term relationship that will benefit everyone."

Mark Menendez — Elite Series professional angler Mark Menendez, with the support of the Strike King Lure Company, will be participating in the Annual TOC Charity Tournament on Lake Guntersville this weekend.

The tournament, sponsored by The Orthopedic Center in Huntsville, Ala., specializes in all types of sports injury treatment and rehab. They are the official medical provider for the Strike King Lure Company pro staff. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit Camp Ascca, a barrier-free therapeutic recreational facility, and the Big Oak Ranch, a Christian home for children needing a chance.

"We're pleased to be involved with this event," said Chris Brown, marketing manager for Strike King. "Our anglers receive the very best medical care from the folks at TOC and we wanted to give something back to them, especially when the proceeds benefit such deserving causes."

Marty Stone — Youth sports addict and Elite Series angler, Marty Stone, has been working this week with his 10-year-old son, John-Turner, to sharpen his baseball skills in preparation for the young man's upcoming all-star tournament.

"I'm really proud of him. He's practiced hard this week and all year, really," says Stone. "As a consequence he's now a proud member of the Pine Forest All-Stars. It's an honor for him and our whole family."

Stone will be fishing on Old Hickory during the first two days of J.T.'s games but will be able to follow the action by cell phone. "I call my wife, Robin, and she gives me the play-by-play commentary. But, sometimes she gets a little frustrated and hangs up — tells me I'll have to call back.

"I've got that problem solved now, though. I have several other parents' cell numbers so when she hangs up I'll just call them to get the action. That way I won't miss anything."
June 13, 2008

Alton Jones — 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Alton Jones, will soon have his photo on Baylor University's Wall of Fame in their Athletic Department.

"The wall has many distinguished Baylor attendees," says Scott Drew, head basketball coach for the Baylor Bears. "It's a who's who from Baylor University. A lot of the photos are of CEOs from corporations and other successful people as well as famous athletes. Alton's a great guy and a great role model for young people, and he will be the first pro angler included.

"Bass fishing is becoming more and more popular and nationally known. Some of our recruits who come in like to fish, and when they see Alton's picture up there it's a great lead-in to tell what he's done. Also, I love to fish, so it's a common conversation bond."

Jones attended Baylor University and is a huge Bear's basketball fan.
Behind the Lines
June 6, 2008

Mike McClelland — Mike McClelland, currently leading the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, has negotiated an unusual sponsorship and boat wrap deal.

Behind the Lines
His boat will carry a one-time, primary sponsor wrap from Tahoe Smokeless at the Bluegrass Brawl on Kentucky Lake, June 12-15. He'll also sport a new jersey to match the wrap.

"The owners of Rock Bridge Tobacco Corporation, bass fishermen themselves, recognize McClelland's talent in the growing sport of bass fishing. It only seemed fitting for America's Best Tasting Snuff to sponsor McClelland, an avid user of smokeless tobacco and leading angler in the Bassmaster Elite Series," said Moriah Garner, spokesperson for the company.

It's believed this is the first single tournament wrap in the history of the Elite Series and, according to some industry watchers, could open the door to a new sponsorship model for both anglers and sponsors.

Behind the Lines
Early Times pro Kevin Wirth poses with Jeff Abbott of Winter Springs, Fla., the winner of Early Times' Reel in a Million sweepstakes.
Kevin Wirth — Early Times pro staffer and Elite Series pro, Kevin Wirth, spent last Saturday fishing with Jeff Abbott of Winter Springs, Fla. Abbott was the winner of Early Times' Reel in a Million sweepstakes.

His good fortune earned him the right to fish for a tagged bass worth $1 million on Tennessee's J. Percy Priest Lake. Neither man caught the $1 million tagged bass but Abbott, under the watchful eye of Wirth, did catch the biggest bass of his life, a 5-pound, 8-ounce beauty.

Asked if he was disappointed about not catching the $1 million tagged bass, Abbott replied, "No way! I got to spend the day out on the lake being guided by Kevin Wirth, a professional angler, in hopes of landing a million dollar bass. And, I caught the biggest bass of my life."
May 29, 2008

Greg Gutierrez — Elite Series pro, Greg Gutierrez, has announced he's withdrawing from the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series season.

"It is with great sadness that I must inform my bass fishing family that I cannot continue competing in the Elite Series this year," the two-time Classic qualifier and full-time California firefighter said in making the announcement. "My wife of 21 years, Bobbie, was recently diagnosed with two masses in her lungs, one on the left and one on the right.

"At this time we do not have a precise diagnosis. But, with her history as a long-time cancer survivor we are being very aggressive in choosing our treatment options. As of now we do not know exactly what our options will be, but we do know that we cannot afford to be conservative in our approach to her treatment.

"Whatever options we do ultimately have available, however, we know there'll be surgery in the near future.

"I am Bobbie's only caregiver and she will need me to be there for her, as she has always been there for me, no matter if it was firefighting, or fishing or something else. Considering the recovery time in the hospital as well as follow-up care at home, I see no possible way to continue competing in the Bassmaster Elite Series this year. It would be impossible to fish and provide the care she needs.

"I am sorry I cannot continue, but 21 years ago I made a promise to Bobbie in front of God, our families and our friends that I would love her, care for her and be there for her in sickness and in health. I will keep that promise. It's a privilege to do so.

"Please hug your family and keep us in your prayers."

Gutierrez went on to say that he hopes to return to the Elite Series once Bobbie's recovery is complete.

Ken Cook — May has been a busy — and proud — month for Elite Series pro and 1991 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Ken Cook, and his wife, Tammy. Along with his fishing duties, two of his three sons graduated from the University of Oklahoma this month with degrees in biochemistry. Both will pursue careers in the medical field. Tanner will study dentistry at the University of Oklahoma School of Dentistry, and Hunter will soon begin his studies at the Oklahoma State University School of Medicine.
May 22, 2008

Behind the Lines
WBT pro Laura Gober is sporting a new Tru-Tungsten boat wrap.
Laura Gober — After several scheduling delays, Laura Gober, a professional angler on the Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors, will be showing off her new Tru-Tungsten boat wrap at this week's WBT tournament on Neely Henry Lake. "I am so excited to have this additional tool to help promote Tru-Tungsten," Gober said. "They've supported me and the Women's Tour from day one. I'm proud to be a part of their team and to fish with their professional grade products."

Tim Horton — Tim Horton, Bassmaster Elite Series pro and winner of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Award in 2000, has long been interested in improving outdoor fishing and hunting opportunities in the Muscle Shoals, Ala., area that he calls home. The same is true of his friend, Jim Bishop, general manager of Jim Bishop Toyota-Scion in Tuscumbia. To further that interest Horton and Bishop formed the Jim Bishop Toyota/Tim Horton Conservation Program. The program will award a $1,000 grant every year to a local group that's working to enhance and protect wildlife habitat.

The first annual winner is the Little Bear Millennium Group. Started by members of the Alabama B.A.S.S. Federation Nation with the strong support of local anglers, its mission is to improve the Little Bear Creek Reservoir and the Bear Creek chain of lakes in Franklin and Marion counties in northern Alabama. According to statements made by Horton when the grant winner was announced, the Millennium Group is one of the most effective Little Bear conservation groups in local history. He points out that their habitat restoration work will not only improve the Little Bear fishery in the immediate future but also for many generations into the future by allowing anglers to have a positive experience when fishing in the lakes. Sportsman's organizations from the Muscle Shoals, Ala., area are eligible to apply for the grants. Details of the application process can be obtained from Horton by contacting him at timandmel@timmyhorton.com.

Kevin Wirth — Jeffrey Abbott of Winter Springs, Fla., is the lucky winner of the Early Times Kentucky Whiskey "Reel in a Million" contest this year. Sponsored by Early Times and Elite Series pro Kevin Wirth, the contest will offer Abbott an all expenses paid opportunity to fish for one million dollars. Twenty-five tagged bass will be released into Tennessee's J. Percy Priest Lake for the contest. Beginning on May 31, 2008, Abbott and Wirth will fish for them. If either Abbott or Wirth catches a tagged bass, it'll earn Abbott a prize, the biggest of which is $1 million. "Everyone at Early Times is thrilled to have Jeffrey as our sweepstakes winner and hope there is a happy ending to his million dollar day on the water," said Joe Murray, Brand Manager for Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Abbott is equally enthused. "I want to thank Early Times for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity to fish with a professional angler and have the chance to win a million dollars," he said. "I'm really looking forward to spending the day on the lake with Kevin and bringing home the million dollar fish!"


May 16, 2008

Behind the Lines
Jason Quinn is working with Costa Del Mar to develop a series of videos chronicling his quest for a slot in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.
Jason Quinn — Elite Series pro and four-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, Jason Quinn, is working with Costa Del Mar to develop a series of videos chronicling his quest for a slot in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. The 10-part series, titled Bass Life with Jason Quinn, airs on Costa Del Mar's Channel C. The first episode, "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly" (Part One) can be viewed at Channel C.

Subsequent episodes will be posted every two weeks and will culminate with coverage of the last Elite event of the season — The Champion's Choice, Aug. 7-10, on Oneida Lake at Syracuse, N.Y. Quinn says filming for the project has been time consuming but is well worth the effort. "To me, if it helps bring more people into the sport and out to the events, it's worth it. Fishing is how I make a living, and I think people are going to be surprised to see what really goes into being a pro bass angler."
May 9, 2008

Behind the Lines
Alton Jones & Alton Jones Jr.
Alton Jones — Elite Series angler and reigning 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Alton Jones, is finding life on the 2008 Elite Series trail not as comfortable as he expected. His son — "Little Alton" — is now fishing as a co-angler on the same trail. "I have to get my own tackle and boat ready all by myself," Jones laughs. "He's doing his own thing. That's good and bad. I like the help when I'm getting ready, but I'm really proud to be fishing with my son, too. Now that he's 16-years-old he'll fish the rest of the Elites as a co-angler, so I guess I'd better get used to washing my own boat." Little Alton is planning a career as a professional angler. "That's pretty much all I think about these days," he says when asked about his future.

Elton Luce, Jr. — Elite Series angler, Elton Luce, Jr., is running a military theme boat wrap this year. His program, Anglers Do Care, is managed in cooperation with the Armed Forces Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting active duty and retired military men and women and their families. Luce donates $1 for every pound of bass he weighs in during Elite Series tournaments. Three of his sponsors — BassCat Boats, Mercury Marine and Pure Fishing — are matching his contributions. To date their contributions total $540. Luce's son, Ryan, served in Iraq in 2003.
May 2, 2008

Greg Gutierrez — California firefighter and Elite Series pro, Greg Gutierrez, will be doing more than fishing at Clarks Hill this week. He'll partner with Chief Forest Ranger Hal Sharpe from the Georgia Forestry Commission for a fire prevention program at the Academy Sports & Outdoors store (www.academy.com) in Evans, Georgia.

James Niggemeyer — Elite Series pro James Niggemeyer recently signed a sponsorship deal with St. Croix Rod (www.stcroixrods.com). St. Croix is based in Park Falls, Wisconsin and is known as one of the premier rod makers in the country.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of such a professional team," says Niggemeyer. "Their rods are some of the best in our sport. It's a great opportunity for both of us."

Toyota — A total of five Elite Series anglers have taken advantage of Toyota's (www.toyota.com), Toyota Trucks Bonus Bucks program this year. 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion, Alton Jones, has been the biggest recipient so far with a total of $12,500 in bonus money paid to him this year.

Toyota's program is available to competitive anglers other than Elite Series pros. Anyone with a 2007 or newer Tundra or Sequoia vehicle who completes the free registration process before competing in a program-eligible tournament circuit can take advantage of it. The following circuits qualify 151; the Central Open, the Southern Open, the Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors, BASS Federation Nation tournaments and the Bassmaster Weekend Series operated by American Bass Anglers.
April 25, 2008

Marty Stone — Elite Series pro Marty Stone was the master of ceremonies at the Warriors on the Water tournament held Friday, April 18, on North Carolina's Jordan Lake. The tournament is held every year to reward our men and women in uniform. "What a great event! It gives our military people a much deserved day of fishing and relaxation," says Stone. "I consider it a privilege to participate in it. If it wasn't for them we couldn't enjoy the freedoms we do. We all need to remember that every day of our lives."

Kyle Fox — Currently fishing the Central and Southern opens as a professional, Kyle Fox has secured a sponsorship deal with Culprit that includes a new plastic lure, the Foxy Craw. According to the company, the plastic crawfish-looking bait is designed to be Texas rigged for fishing sparse grass and lily pads, flipped with a heavy weight through thicker cover or Carolina rigged through hydrilla. They also report it's an excellent ledge bait. "The legs and split tail allow it to move easily through vegetation," says Fox. "As forward movement stops, the legs and tail float up and down to create a lifelike presentation."

Members, ESPN/Bassmasters Message Board — The members of the ESPN/Bassmaster.com Message Board will be hosting their second annual Message Board Tournament on Kentucky Lake, June 6-7, 2008. The event will be headquartered at Inn by the Lake and will benefit a young cancer patient, Jaydon, who has been undergoing treatments in Memphis, Tenn., for approximately a year. "Jaydon has been sent all sorts of fishing gear as well as a subscription to Bassmaster Magazine by board members. Now, hopefully, we can get him to Kentucky Lake, depending upon his health," says Phyllis Harrell, aka Nanrudd. "We're raising money to get him and his parents here for at least an overnight stay. Inn By The Lake will provide a courtesy room for him and his family. We do need donations for gas and food, though."
April 18, 2008

Casey Ashley — Elite Series pro Casey Ashley recently signed a 2008 sponsorship contract with Lucky Craft. He'll join Skeet Reese, Marty Stone, Gerald Swindle, Kelly Jordon and Takahiro Omori on their national pro staff. "I'm very excited about this sponsorship," Ashley said. "This is big for me. Lucky Craft is one of the top names in the fishing industry, and I'm honored to be a part of the team, especially because of the big names who are already a part it."

Behind the Lines
Along with his growing career in the fishing industry, Ashley is experiencing success as a country singer.
Casey Ashley — Along with his growing career in the fishing industry, Ashley is experiencing success as a country singer. His newly released single, Fisherman, is climbing the charts. You can listen to it on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrZxZEH6zKs.

Darla Bardelli — Women's Bassmaster Tour pro Darla Bardelli finished 24th in the season opener on Lewisville Lake. What makes that remarkable is that she was diagnosed with breast cancer eight months ago and recently underwent a double radical mastectomy. "When you are diagnosed with cancer, your world kind of spins out, and you have to focus on a goal to make it through the treatments. They're brutal," she says. "My goal was to be able to fish in the WBT again. Whenever I put on my tournament shirt, it's almost ritualistic. I'm focused and ready to go out and compete. So for chemo, I put on my tournament shirt so I could be focused when I went into that room. I was in there for a battle. I was in there to win."

Billy Brewer — Elite Series pro, Billy Brewer, currently ranked 33rd in the Angler of the Year standings, was once a major league baseball pitcher. Drafted in 1990 by the Montreal Expos, the southpaw reliever had a record of 11 wins and 11 losses. His ERA was 4.79. Brewer's last appearance as a professional baseball player was October 2, 1999.

Kotaro Kiriyama — Elite Series pro Kotaro Kiriyama may hold the record for spending the most money on lures during one Elite Series event. When Kiriyama ran out of his favorite big bass swimbait, the Swimming Ninja, made by Jackall, he ordered more from Japan. The company was glad to help but the only way to get them to Del Rio, Texas, in time for the Lake Amistad tournament was to fly them with a human passenger. Otherwise they would take three days to clear customs. So, that's what Jackall did — at a cost of $7,000 for eight lures. Kiriyama finished 12th in the tournament. The Swimming Ninja is in its final prototype stage and not yet available to the fishing public.
April 11, 2008

Glenn DeLong — Elite Series pro Glen DeLong's newest sponsor, Gorman-Rupp Pumps (www.gormanrupp.com) is offering a unique prize for one of his fans. They're sponsoring a sweepstakes to celebrate their 75th anniversary as a maker of commercial and municipal pumping systems. The lucky winner will receive a day of fishing on Lake Erie with DeLong as well as transportation, hotel accommodations for two nights and merchandise including an Abu-Garcia reel, Powell rod, outerwear and Berkley lures. "They're going to fly their corporate jet to wherever the winner is located and fly them back to Mansfield, Ohio, to Gorman-Rupp headquarters," DeLong says. "It's awesome. They thought of a great idea, and I'm happy to be a part of it."

Behind the Lines
Mike Iaconelli has signed a five year deal with Fish Harder Companies, owners of Tru-Tungsten and Picasso.
Mike Iaconelli — 2006 Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 2003 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Mike Iaconelli, has signed a five year deal with Fish Harder Companies, owners of Tru-Tungsten and Picasso. "We're very happy to have Ike on board," says Larry Thornhill, director of public relations for the Norcross, Ga., based company. "Our new weighted plastics are the most innovative soft plastic fishing lures on the market and we are pleased to have an angler with Ike's skills to represent them to the fishing public. Signing Ike is a big step. He's a fierce competitor and highly skilled angler. Having him use our products will help bring them the notoriety they deserve."

Jo Dee Lake — Women's Bassmaster Tour professional angler, Jo Dee Lake, has signed a sponsorship deal with Honda Marine. She's now running a Honda BF225 on her Triton bass boat. Lake is also a member of Team Academy.

Karol Whitehurst — New Women's Bassmaster Tour pro, Karol Whitehurst, has signed several new sponsors for the 2008 season. The list includes Ocean Wave Sunglasses, Legend Boats, and Lake Fork Trophy Lures.

Judy Wong — Judy Wong, winner of the 2008 WBT Championship, has a new boat wrap courtesy of the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission of Texas. The wrap displays the words "Toledo Bend Lake Country" and is designed to promote tourism around the state. Wong is also a member of Team Academy.

Xtreme Fishing Glove — Xtreme Glove (www.xtremeglove.com) is the newest sponsor of the Bassmaster Elite Series. The glove was worn by BASS Tournament Director, Trip Weldon, at the recent Lone Star Shootout where he handled over three tons of bass. "With the sponsorship, an Xtreme glove will be the only glove worn by a BASS tournament official on a weigh-in stand. Xtreme Glove will have a presence at all Elite events, including exhibiting at Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expos," said BASS.
April 4, 2008

Kurt Dove — Elite Series angler Kurt Dove continues to offer his quarterly newsletter, The Dove Flyer, to interested persons. It offers updates on his professional accomplishments, media exposure and sponsor information. His latest edition can be accessed here. Dove has also recently finalized new sponsorship deals for the 2008 Elite season with BoatUS, Bass Edge, and Ditch Witch.

Behind the Lines
Paul Joseph Hirosky was born March, 31, 2008, at the Meadville Medical Center, located in Meadville, Penn.
Paul Hirosky — Elite Series angler Paul Hirosky and his wife Andrea are the proud parents of a new baby boy, Paul Joseph. PJ, as he'll be called, was born March, 31, 2008, at the Meadville Medical Center, located in Meadville, Penn. He was delivered prematurely by emergency C-section and weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces and was 15 inches long. "PJ's doing well. He's four days old (Thursday) and didn't lose any weight today. That's good, and we're both happy with the way things are going," said a tired Andrea. "But I think Paul's having a tough time in Texas. He wants to be home and is having trouble concentrating on his fishing." The Hiroskys are the parents of two older daughters — 9-year-old Madison and 8-year-old Lauren.
March 28, 2008

Gerald Swindle — Elite Series angler Gerald Swindle lost his brother, Tony, late this winter to cancer. Tony is survived by his wife Tracy, son Tray and daughter Tori.

"I'm really going to miss Tony. We fished together all the time as kids and then framed houses together after we got out of school. We also fished local team tournaments together years ago when I was just getting started. He was always my biggest fan, whether I was catching fish or not," lamented Gerald. "I'm telling you cancer is a terrible thing. It took someone very important away from me."

Cliff Pace — The 2008 Bassmaster Classic runner-up, Cliff Pace, will be joining the Hi-Seas pro staff this season. Hi-Seas is the manufacturer of Spectra monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing line.

"The Classic was one of the toughest in recent memory," Steve Miller, Hi-Seas Sales Manager said, "And we were totally impressed with Cliff's knowledge, poise and overall performance under difficult conditions. He is definitely one of the sport's up and coming superstars and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him throughout the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Tournament Series."

Behind the Lines
Kevin Wirth has teamed with Early Times Kentucky Whisky to continue their annual Early Times Derby Tournament.
Kevin Wirth — Elite Series pro and perennial Classic qualifier, Kevin Wirth, has teamed with Early Times Kentucky Whisky to continue their annual Early Times Derby Tournament. The team tournament will be held April 27, 2008, on the Ohio River's Markland Pool. Boats will launch from Cox's Park near Louisville, Ky.

"I'm proud to be a part of this project along with Early Times. All the proceeds from this tournament will go directly to benefit bass fishing on the Ohio River," says Wirth. "Other river systems have been improved, and we can do the same thing with the Ohio if we just get to work on it."

The entry fee is $200 per team — $20 big bass optional pot — with guaranteed payouts through sixth place, including $6,000 for first place. For additional details contact Dan Fischer at 502-727-9543.
March 21, 2008

Behind the Lines
Judy Wong (L) & Alton Jones will be received at the White House by President Geroge W. Bush
President George W. Bush — 2008 Bassmaster Classic winner, Alton Jones, and 2008 Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship winner, Judy Wong, will be honored at the White House for their respective accomplishments.

Both anglers will participate in photo opportunities in the Oval Office. For Wong, the invitation was especially meaningful because it was unexpected. "I plan to take a couple of gifts for the president and the first lady, Laura Bush," Wong said. "I want to give each of them one of my American Rodsmith signature rods — probably a topwater action model. I'll also present Quantum reels to them."

Behind the Lines
Bill Lowen
Bill Lowen — Elite Series competitor Bill Lowen and All Pro Rods have announced the offering of a new Bill Lowen Signature Series rod — the Telescoping Bill Lowen Swim Jig Rod APX76HSJ.

Lowen is rapidly developing a reputation as one of the best anglers in the country with this technique. He recently finished 5th in the second Elite Series event of 2008 on the Kissimmee Chain using this method.

"I felt we needed a specialty rod for swimming jigs. A good swimming jig rod needs to be long but flexible and light. Flipping sticks are just too heavy and stiff," says Lowen. "This new rod offers the action and tip, as well as All Pro quality, that's needed if serious anglers expect to be successful with this technique."

MoGills, Inc. — MoGills, Inc., manufacturer of apparel for anglers, and BASS recently announced that MoGills will become a sponsor of the Women's Bassmaster Tour.

The Cocoa, Florida based company will be represented daily at all WBT tournaments including logos on the weigh-in stage, will offer other promotional activities involving the WBT, and will have a presence in BASS' multimedia platforms.

"We at MoGills are absolutely thrilled to be a part of the WBT as these wonderfully talented women make history in fishing," said Linda Lanier, vice president of MoGills. "Being part of the WBT is both an honor and a challenge to us as a young company, and we look forward to helping grow the WBT this year through our Freshwater Chic clothing."
March 14, 2008

Bass Fishing Hall of Fame — The BFHOF recently announced that they will help wrap Mike Wurm's boat for the 2008 Elite Series.

"It's going to give us some good promotional value and help drive people to our Web site to get some information about the Hall of Fame," said Wurm, who is on the Hall's board of directors. "We need to get the word out about the Hall of Fame because we're on the road to a bright future."

The BFHOF is located in the Mid America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Ark.

Behind the Lines
Sarah Bailey was born at 3:18 a.m. on March 4, 2008.
Chris Brown — Strike King Marketing Manager Chris Brown and his wife Gretchen are the proud parents of a new baby girl, Sarah Bailey. Sarah Bailey — that's what she'll be called — was born at 3:18 a.m. on March 4, at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. She weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long.

"So far she's been a good baby. She's letting us sleep through the night and hasn't cried much at all," says the proud father. "We're tickled."

Behind the Lines
Elite Series pro angler Mark Menendez and Strike King Lure Company, along with Skeeter Boats, have announced a new boat wrap concept for 2008.
Mark Menendez — Elite Series pro angler Mark Menendez and Strike King Lure Company, along with Skeeter Boats, have announced a new boat wrap concept for 2008.

"The wrap itself is pretty plain as it is solid white with large black Skeeter and Strike King logos" says Menendez. "We spend a lot of time signing autographs in Angler Alley and other stops for fans, so myself and the folks at Skeeter and Strike King thought we should let the fans autograph something, so we decided on the boat."

Behind the Lines
Fans that attend Angler Alley will have the opportunity to "autograph" Menendez's boat.
Fans can participate by autographing Mark's boat whenever they meet him at an event.

Mike Wurm — Longtime professional angler Mike Wurm has put a new face on his autograph cards.

"There'll be 300 cards in each series. Each series is numbered and, along with my photo, displays a reproduction of an original piece of artwork from a local Hot Springs, Ark., artist. I'll sign them at tournaments only so hopefully they'll become collector's items over time," says the Elite Series competitor.

"We think it's a great way to reward our fans and give them something that'll increase in value with time."
Behind the Lines
Elite Series pro Kevin Short signs with Diablo Outdoors, Inc./Team REALTREE.
March 7, 2008

Lee Bailey — Elite Series pro Lee Bailey has announced the launching of a new Web site, www.eyesonjesus.com. According to Bailey, "This new site is devoted to bringing a spiritual uplifting to everyone."

The site includes testimonies, praises and a prayer request list. Everyone is welcome.

Rodney Clawson — Rodney Clawson, premier Nashville songwriter and a senior partner at Dalia Entertainment Group and Outdoor Music will fish four BASS events as a co-angler in 2008.

Clawson, an avid bass angler and BASS fan, is the author of "I Saw God Today" recorded by George Straight.

Early Times Kentucky Whiskey — American Bass Anglers, Inc. has announced that Early Times Kentucky Whisky has been named Official Whisky of ABA's American Fishing Tour for the 2008 campaign.

"Early Times is excited to be the Official Whisky of American Bass Anglers for this upcoming year and is pleased to support the growth of bass fishing," said Joe Murray, Brand Manager for Early Times. "This sponsorship is a perfect fit with our strategy to become more involved in one of our consumers' greatest passions — fishing."

Michael Iaconelli — Fishing's bad boy turned good on March 3rd. Iaconelli, in cooperation with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Disney, took Scotty Goldman — a 15-year-old young man suffering from an inoperable brain tumor whose wish was to go fishing with Iaconelli — bass fishing following the 2008 Bassmaster Classic.

The Florida event was a huge success. Scotty caught a bass, and more importantly, had his wish granted.

Kevin Short — Diablo Outdoors, Inc. has announced the signing of Elite Series pro and 2008 Bassmaster Classic Qualifier Kevin Short to promote their line of Team Realtree outdoor apparel.

"I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this partnership", stated Kevin Short. "Diablo Outdoors has done an incredible job in a short period of time of positioning themselves and the Team Realtree brand as leaders in not only the hunting, but also the fishing outerwear market."

Vicious Fishing — Vicious Fishing has announced the signing of professional golfer and avid outdoorsman, Boo Weekley, to their pro staff. Weekley will carry the Vicious logo on his golf bag while competing in PGA Tour events this year.

"We value the passion of the outdoors that Boo has, and look forward to working closely with him to expand the reach of Vicious Fishing branded products", says Glen Cunningham, Sales and Licensing Director, for Vicious Fishing.
Behind the Lines
Classic Champ Alton Jones' new double-stack trailer.
March 5, 2008

Ken Cook — Re-Action System has announced the signing of Elite Series pro angler and 1991 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Ken Cook, to their pro staff. "I look forward to working with them," says Cook. "Their system reduces prop noise from my electric trolling motor and allows me to fish more efficiently."

Alton Jones — Elite Series pro and 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion Alton Jones, has announced the arrival of his new "double-stack" trailer. The trailer allows Jones to haul his Skeeter boat and Toyota Sequoia vehicle behind his motor home. "Last year we hauled them with me driving the motor home and my wife Jimmye Sue hauling the boat. Now we can all ride as a family," he says.

James Kennedy — Elite Series angler James Kennedy has announced three new sponsors for the 2008 season — Pure Fishing, Camowraps.com and Breastcancer.com.

Behind the Lines
Elite Series pros Todd Faircloth and Jeff Kriet have joined the Sebile Innovative Fishing team.
Sebile Innovative Fishing — Sebile has announced the signing of two Elite Series anglers for the 2008 season. Todd Faircloth and Jeff Kriet will join the team immediately. "Both men have qualified for the Bassmaster Classic annually for the past few years, and they are back in it again in '08. They are truly among the country's elite anglers and we're proud to have them on our team," says Keeton Eoff, U.S. Sales and Marketing Director for Sebile.

Skeeter Boats — Skeeter Boats has announced the addition of three new Elite Series anglers — Brian Clark, Bobby Lane and Clark Reehm — to their pro staff. "We value these individuals for their strong tournament skills, competitiveness, fan base and their ability to support our dealer network," says Daren Cole, marketing manager for Skeeter Products. "Each is well-respected within the tournament community, and we look forward to sharing their success."

Dustin Wilks — Elite Series angler and four-time Classic qualifier, Dustin Wilks, has secured a one year title sponsorship with Culprit. His agreement includes a boat wrap and primary signage on his jersey. "I have been with Culprit for 8 years now, and I'm honored they have enough confidence in me to step up to a title sponsorship role. This will be an excellent opportunity to promote the Culprit brand and really show off their variety of premier soft plastic lures," says Wilks.