Behind the Lines

June 8, 2009

Mike Iaconelli Elite Series angler and 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion Mike Iaconelli recently helped make two dreams come true for terminally ill Katie Shockley of Shreveport, La.

Her first wish was to talk to Ike, so he called the 10-year-old young lady. While they were talking, he learned she was a fan of country singing sensation Kenny Chesney. Never one to let an opportunity to help a youngster in need go by the wayside, Iaconelli called Chesney. In response, Chesney arranged for Shockley to attend his concert in Shreveport a few days later, complete with private car transportation.

Skeet Reese Elite Series angler and 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion Skeet Reese recently inked a deal with fishing tackle manufacturer Wright & McGill Co. of Denver, Colo., to produce a new series of specialty fishing rods.

The rods reported by those in the know to look "aggressive" will debut in July at the ICAST show in Orlando, Fla.

Bernie Schultz Elite Series angler and well-known antique fishing lure collector Bernie Schultz has a Web site that collectors can visit for information about their hobby: www.bernieschultzfishing.com.

For Schultz, collecting antique lures is a longtime passion, driven by a love of the sport rather than profit. "It's not about profit-making for me. Some of the stuff I collect is valuable, some of it is not as valuable value is in the perception of the collector it's a gray area."

And, no, he doesn't fish with his collection not the valuable ones, anyway.

"I have never fished any of the rare, obscure or valuable lures in my collection, or what I deem as valuable but I have fished with lures others might regard as vintage or valuable. They perform very well."

May 22, 2009

Mark Burgess First-year Elite Series pro and regional sales manager for Skeeter Boats, Mark Burgess, has signed with Reaction Strike. The McCordsville, Ind.-based company is currently working on a number of swimbaits that mimic Northern forage.

Burgess' immediate responsibilities include developing a series of signature colors and patterns for their Revolution Shad, a four-jointed swimbait.

"It's my first experience working with a company with this degree of involvement in the creative process," he said after joining Reaction Strike's pro staff. "I'm very excited to be involved in something like this. It's a wonderful opportunity that will benefit both of us. And, even more important, it'll help recreational anglers catch more bass. That's really what it's all about."

Steve Daniel Professional angler and former Elite angler, Steve Daniel, will be hosting a new radio show "Hooked Up" that highlights fishing conditions on Florida's Lake Okeechobee, as well as featuring interviews with Bassmaster Elite Series pros. Steve's wife, Deb, will conduct interviews with Academy Sports + Outdoors Women's Bassmaster Tour professional anglers to get their perspective on bass fishing.

The first show will air June 6 on WOKC AM 1570 and 100.9 FM.

Audrey McQueen Academy Sports + Outdoors Women's Bassmaster Tour professional angler, Audrey McQueen, has signed with technical clothing maker She Safari. Her new tournament jersey and boat wrap made their debut at the WBT event on the Ouachita River.

Kevin Wirth Rochelle Barcenilla of Waipahu, Hawaii, has been selected as the winner of this year's Early Times Kentucky Whisky Reel in a Million contest. Barcenilla, 30, was randomly chosen from thousands of contestants for a chance to catch one of 25 tagged bass swimming in North Carolina's Lake Norman. She'll fish on Saturday, June 27.

Elite Series angler and Early Times pro staffer Kevin Wirth will assist Barcenilla on her quest. The Big Cash Bass will be worth $1 million. Other tagged bass will be worth prizes such as a Triton bass boat, various gift cards and high-quality fishing gear. Regardless of who catches a tagged bass Barcenilla or Wirth all prizes will be awarded to Barcenilla.

If Barcenilla or Wirth don't catch the million-dollar tagged bass on Saturday, Early Times will open the contest to the first 50 boats (100 anglers) who have pre-registered to fish on Sunday, June 28. The Big Cash Bass will be worth $50,000 on day two. The other 24 tagged fish will be worth their original prizes. Tagged bass will only be of value to registered anglers on Sunday, June 28.

Anglers interested in participating in the Sunday portion of the Reel in a Million contest should call 800-634-6598 to register. There is a registration fee of $35, $30 of which will be donated to charity. The remaining $5 will cover launch fees. All anglers must be 21 years of age or older.

April 17, 2009

Mike Iaconelli Bassmaster Elite Series pro and 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion Mike Iaconelli is hosting a new show on ESPN2. Fishing on the Edge presented by Castrol Edge, airs Saturday and Sunday mornings. Each show details a cutting edge technique used by the pro from Runnemede, N.J.

Crashing cranks and flick-shaking were the topics of the first two segments. Next up is stroking a jig set for ESPN2 at 8:56 a.m. ET Saturday, April 18, or at 6:26 a.m. ET Sunday, April 19. The first two episodes are available for viewing on ESPNOutdoors.com. The shows will air on ESPN2 through June 21.

Chris Lane Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Chris Lane is continuing his support of the Virginia Tech Bass Fishing Team by renewing his pledge to donate a percentage of his Elite Series winnings to help support the team.

Four members of the team met Lane shortly after the tragic shootings on the campus in April 2007. The meeting turned out to be a positive experience for both the team and Lane. They formed a bond that continues to this day.

"I feel like I'm giving something back to the sport. I think there's a huge future for the sport through college competitions. Those of us who make our living from it should give something back. It's only right."

April 3, 2009

Todd Faircloth Bassmaster Elite Series pro Todd Faircloth and his wife, Angie, are the proud parents of a new baby girl. Helen Claire was born March 18, 2009, at 11:22 a.m. at the Nacogdoches Women's Medical Center in Texas. She weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces, and measured 19 inches. The Faircloths have two other children, Hudson and Harrison.

March 27, 2009

Jon Bondy Jon Bondy, Bassmaster Elite Series pro of Windsor, Ontario, has a new wrap for the 2009 season Denali Moose Tracks Ice Cream. Thanks to the company founder, Wally Blume, a BASS member and avid fan of the sport, Bondy's rig now features the Denali moose character, moose footprints and Moose Tracks logo.

Audrey McQueen Academy Sports + Outdoors Women's Bassmaster Tour professional angler Audrey McQueen and her husband, Roger, are the proud parents of a new baby girl. Taylor Lynn McQueen was born on March 14, six weeks early. Both mother and baby are doing fine, and after nine days Taylor Lynn weighs 5 pounds, 3 ounces.

"March 14, I went to the doctor because I wanted to go to Neely Henry, site of the first 2009 WBT event," McQueen said shortly after the birth. "He (the doctor) said everything was fine, that there was no way I was going to have the baby for four or five weeks. So we planned to leave. Then I got home and at 10:30 that night my water broke. I was air-evac'ed to Phoenix, and we had her that night."

John Murray Bassmaster Elite Series pro John Murray and wife, Amy, are the proud parents of a new baby boy. Thomas John "TJ" Murray was born on March 15, in Phoenix, Ariz. He weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces and went home with mom and dad on March 17.

"I knew he was going to be a St. Paddy's Day baby somehow," Murray said. "He was two weeks early, but he had really good timing, that's for sure. I was a little despondent when I realized I hadn't made the final cut and couldn't fish on Sunday (at Amistad, Sat., March 14). Then I checked my cell phone messages. I stood there in shock, telling people about the baby coming, and they all said, 'Hey, what are you standing here for?'

"I drove straight through, went right to the hospital with my boat in tow, pulled up in front of the birthing area and parked my truck and ran inside. I got there just in time."

This may be the only time in Murray's career that he's happy to have missed a cut. "I was really glad. I pretty much knew I would not have stayed, but I didn't have to make the decision."

March 9, 2009

Russ Lane Elite Series pro Russ Lane has signed a sponsorship contract with American Rodsmiths.

"I spent the offseason testing several different brands of rods. Not one even came close to matching American Rodsmiths when it came to giving me exactly what I was looking for in a professional grade rod. I immediately contacted them and we were able to work out the terms of a sponsorship.

"I'm very picky when it comes to my specialty rods. They have a length and action that meets my needs perfectly. I'm excited about fishing with American Rodsmiths rods this year. I feel confident they'll help me qualify for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic."

Mark Menendez —; Elite Series pro Mark Menendez has inked a new sponsorship deal with Retrotec Inc. His boat will carry their new Stay-N-Charge System. The system is designed to take power already generated from the tow vehicle or the outboard motor to recover lost power in the boat's batteries.

"It's a system that's perfect for the angler needing an edge," Menendez said when the sponsorship deal was made public. "I run a Skeeter 20 I-Class bass boat. It's rated for 250 hp. I have removed my heavy onboard charger from my rig. This increases my running speed by almost 2 mph.

"The Stay-N-Charge system is continually passing power to all of my batteries as the outboard is running. I never have to worry about having enough power for my electric motor. It's the best of both worlds speed and power."

James Niggemeyer Elite Series pro and winner of the 2009 Bassmaster Central Open tournament James Niggemeyer will feature a BassTackleDepot.com wrap on his BassCat boat during the 2009 season. The tackle retailer will share space with Bass West USA and APS Payroll.

BassTackleDepot .com is a leading Internet retailer of premium bass fishing tackle and accessories. Operated by hardcore bass anglers who know what the bass fishing enthusiast requires, BassTackleDepot.com is the Internet home of several prestigious brick and mortar establishments.

February 27, 2009

Edwin Evers Bassmaster Elite Series pro and 9-time Classic qualifier, Edwin Evers, and his wife Tuesday are the proud parents of Kade Stanley Evers. Kade was born February 11 at St. John's Hospital in Tulsa, Okla. He was 21 inches long and weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces. Both mom and baby are well.

Jeff Kriet Bassmaster Elite Series pro and 5-time Classic qualifier, Jeff Kriet, donated his time and effort Saturday in Shreveport, La., during the Classic to take local angler, 13-year-old Kent Cella, bass fishing on the Red River. Cella was chosen for the trip by local bass clubs from entries received by A Dream Come True, presented by Berkley.

"It was great. Kent's a fine young angler and comes from a good family. Despite the rain and tough weather we caught somewhere between 50 and 60 bass. And, make no mistake, he caught his share. That shouldn't surprise anyone, though. He won the Junior Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in the 18-and-under age group in 2007 and 2008, and has won nine out of the 13 Junior Bassmaster tournaments he's entered.

"It was really special for me to be able to do this. He reminds me of myself at that age. All he wants to do is fish and that's all I wanted to do. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him at a future Classic as a competitor. He's that good."

February 13, 2009

Ken Cook Elite Series angler and 1991 Bassmaster Classic champion Ken Cook has announced that 2009 will be his final year as a full-time professional angler. In making the announcement he did not use the word "retired," however.

"I will still continue to be a part of the outdoors and the fishing industry, continuing to lend my support to my sponsors whenever I can. I most definitely will continue to fish maybe in the occasional tournament but not at the highest levels on a full-time basis. I still love to fish and do so as often as I can. However, with age and other factors, my body simply will not allow me to compete at the level at which I think I should.

"My final season will be devoted to enjoying the sport of fishing and relishing the fellowship, competition and camaraderie of my fellow anglers as well as the support of my fans. That's why I'm calling this my Farewell Tour."

Bill Lowen Elite Series pro Bill Lowen has secured three new sponsors for the 2009 season, Buck Knives, Feather 'Flage and The Rod Guard.

Buck Knives makes hunting, tactical, outdoor, work and utility knives as well as sharpeners and sheaths. The Post Falls, Idaho, company made its first product in 1902.

Feather 'Flage makes a camouflage pattern named "Ducks in a Row." The company is based in Lafayette, La., downstate from Shreveport-Bossier City, La., the site of the Feb. 20-22 Bassmaster Classic.

The Rod Guard makes a .32-ounce foam device that fits tightly to a fishing rod. In addition to being insurance against losing a rod that falls overboard, the foam helps protect an angler's body from bruising during a powerful hook set.

February 6, 2009

Heather Broom WBT professional angler Heather Broom has signed a new sponsorship contract with Vicious Fishing.

"I feel extremely fortunate and proud to have the opportunity to be affiliated with the Vicious team. I've been involved with them and fished with their products for over a year now. They make products that have instilled the self-confidence I need to put fish in the boat under difficult conditions," said Broom after the announcement was made public.

"Vicious has developed a copolymer and fluorocarbon line that is undoubtedly in a class of its own, and with the addition of Vicious Braid and All Purpose line, there's not an angler on the water who can't be totally Vicious when it comes to his or her fishing."

Brent Chapman Elite Series pro Brent Chapman has negotiated a sponsorship contract with a new, non-endemic company, Ultra-Tech Inc. Ultra-Tech is a precision machine shop in Kansas City, Kan., near his home in Lake Quivira.

Founded in 1983, Ultra-Tech. Inc. is a Chapman family business. The principals include Brent's father and mother, Ron and Pat Chapman, and their son-in-law, Chris Coad. Ultra-Tech specializes in custom machine work such as that required by the aerospace and medical industries.

As a part of the sponsorship arrangement Chapman's boat and tow vehicle will be wrapped in matching red and black colors.

Greg Hackney and Mike Wurm Zebco Brands recently announced that veteran Elite Series pros Greg Hackney and Mike Wurm have been signed as new pro staff members for the company's Cajun Line brand. Both anglers will be fishing Cajun's red monofilament lines and braid, as well as the recently introduced clear fluorocarbon.

"Getting Greg and Mike onboard to promote Cajun Line is big news and symbolizes the emphasis we're putting behind this brand and the fishing line category," said James Therrell, Cajun Line product manager. "These anglers represent the same kind of integrity and get-it-done fortitude by which the Cajun brand was originally founded, and most importantly, they believe in the quality of these products as strongly as we do."

Michael Iaconelli LaserLure, Inc. has announced the signing of 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion and 2006 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Mike Iaconelli, to a major sponsorship contract.

"The first time I saw the baits I was excited about the potential of what these things could do. When I finally got home and tested them, I was amazed at the number and size of the fish I caught. They truly out fished ordinary crankbaits," Ike said after fishing with the baits on his home waters.

"I can't wait to use LaserLures this year on the trail, and I can't wait to use them in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River in February. Having these lures in my arsenal will definitely give me a big advantage."

Kevin VanDam StowMaster, Inc. has announced the signing of Elite Series pro Kevin VanDam to StowMaster's National Pro Staff Team.

"We're extremely excited about having VanDam onboard and are looking forward to working with him in developing products for the avid bass angler," said Steve Vogts, StowMaster's vice president of Marketing.

"The use of landing nets by bass fishermen has now become the norm rather than the exception, but many anglers still forgo their use because of boat storage limitations. StowMaster's new KVD Bass Boat Net is designed to fold and stow in a bass boat's rod locker or other storage compartment where it's out of the way until needed."

January 23, 2009

Gerald Swindle Elite Series pro and 2004 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle has signed with Vicious Fishing, makers of several top fishing lines used by the pros.

"We're proud to have an angler with Gerald's abilities and professionalism on our pro staff," said Chris Dutton, spokesman for the Alabama-based company. "We've worked hard to earn the respect of the fishing community. Having an angler like Gerald Swindle endorse our line says more than all the advertising and promotions could ever say."

Swindle is just as excited, "I can't think of a better way to fund my 401K than with Vicious line. Their fluorocarbon line is the best in the business. I get paid by weight. To make weight, I need to land bass. Vicious line helps me do that. When you think Vicious, think set, pull, drag, fight, win! It's the best line on the market. I'm really glad to be with them."

January 16, 2009

Boyd Duckett Elites Series angler and 2007 Bassmaster Classic Champion Boyd Duckett has signed a sponsorship contract with LaserLure. The Shreveport, La., based company is fast becoming known for adorning its high-quality hard baits with a blinking, red laser that it says attracts bass.

"I'm really proud to be part of the new LaserLure team. The company has created a truly innovative product. LaserLure has taken a great idea and turned it into products that work," Duckett said immediately after the announcement.

"I think people that know me understand that I'm really careful to make sure I associate with high-quality, top-flight sponsors. It's always been my intention to work with folks that let me have influence into how their products are designed, improved and marketed. LaserLure is giving me that opportunity. I'm excited and can't wait to fish some of their lures at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic."

January 9, 2009

John Crews Elite Series pro John Crews has launched his Bass Angler Academy, an intensive bass fishing program "for the serious angler who is tired of getting beat." The program will offer everything from group classroom instruction to individual on-the-water guidance.

"This is something that I've been asked about off and on over the past few years," said Crews. "It's not a guide trip or a fishing trip. It's a program to teach anglers how to do the things we pros do, the things that make us successful.

"Anglers will learn boat positioning, using GPS, reading a sonar unit, real-world casting techniques, proper hook sets and other things to help them become more competitive. It's designed to take serious anglers to the next level without them having to spend years learning things that I can teach them in one day."

Complete details, including pricing, can be found on Crew's Web site, www.johncrews.com.

Mark Menendez Elite Series pro Mark Menendez has acquired a new sponsor for the 2009 season, Power Tackle. The Del Rio, Texas, based company offers a diverse line of professional quality fishing rods for the discriminating angler.

"The Power Tackle line of rods will help the bass angler land more bass," said Menendez after inking the deal. "The detail in design and comfort allows the angler the utmost in sensitivity. After extensive testing, the new Palming Grips and ACS Reel Seats offered on Power Tackle Rods have reduced the amount of wrist and elbow fatigue experienced from long days on the water.

"This is especially important with today's power fishing techniques swimbaits, deep cranking and heavy cover flipping. I feel comfortable with every aspect of the Power Tackle Rods. From the complete lineup of rods to the warranty, Power Tackle Rods will help me land more bass. I'm proud to be a member of their team and look forward to a long and beneficial relationship with them."

Kim Bain-Moore 2009 Bassmaster Classic competitor, Kim Bain-Moore, the first woman to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic, will be featured in a short television special on ESPN2 in January, February and March.

The show will document aspects of Bain-Moore's life as well as run interviews with her fellow Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors professionals.

The 4-5 minute segment will air at 7:26 a.m. EST on January 17 and 31 as well as on February 7 and 14. It will also air at 5:26 a.m. EST on February 14, 21 and 28 as well as on March 14, 21 and 29.

Byron Velvick Elite Series pro and first-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Byron Velvick has signed a sponsorship deal with Fish Harder Companies, LLC. His primary sponsorship responsibilities with the Georgia-based fishing conglomerate will be swimbaits.

"I'm really excited about this opportunity," said Velvick. "I've worked with both saltwater and freshwater swimbaits for years. This will give me an opportunity to showcase the very best baits on the market today theirs and mine.

"And it'll give me a chance to work on the design aspects of swimbaits. I have a number of homemade models that I've fished with for a longtime. They catch bass, but frankly they need a little tweaking when it comes to design, construction and finish. Fish Harder will offer that kind of professional input and support. This is a real opportunity for both of us. I can't wait to get started with them."

January 6, 2009

Kevin Short, Marty Stone Elite Series anglers Kevin Short and Marty Stone have joined the Vicious Fishing pro staff team for the 2009 season.

"Vicious Fishing has always prided itself on making the best fishing lines and products for the best anglers," said Chris Dutton, spokesman for the Alabama-based company. "The addition of Short and Stone continues in that tradition. They represent the very best in professional bass fishing."

Both anglers will use and endorse all Vicious Fishing lines, including monofilament, fluorocarbon and braid.

"Vicious Fishing has all the things I look for in a sponsor. They produce a quality product that continues to improve. But, at the same time, their improvements don't create so many line applications and brands that their products create confusion," said Stone, immediately following the announcement.

"Instead, they improve on the great products they have and that anglers already know about and use. They have the feel and research capabilities of a giant company, but with the values of a small one personal relationships and direct contact with their consumers. Kevin and I are both excited to be a part of such an organization."

Behind the Lines 2008
Click here for Elite Series news from 2008.