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U.S. wins third consecutive Eurobass Cup

It's been a tough year for fans of the USA when it comes to international sports competitions.

It doesn't matter if its Davis Cup tennis, Ryder Cup golf or World Cup soccer, the USA has been BAD. So let's hear it for the USA professional bass fishing team.

Yep, we have one.

Team USA couldn't win the inaugural World Baseball Classic this past spring, but last month in Spain the Yanks brought home their third consecutive Eurobass Cup.

OK, only a handful of people have ever heard of the Eurobass Cup.

But when an entire country is in the middle of a 0-for-everything funk you take your wins where you can get them.

And not only did I not know there was a Eurobass Cup, I didn't even know there were Euro bass.

The two-day event was fished in Spain, which was bass-less until the second half of the 20th Century. It turns out largemouth bass have been stocked in Europe since the 1800s, with Belgium and France getting the first fish in 1877.

The 12-man American team, led by Danny Correira, Byron Velvick, Brent Ehrler, O.T. Fears and Aaron Martens, among others, beat the Europeans 14-10. Fears was a last-minute replacement for the ultra high-strung Mike Iaconelli, a move that probably did more for American-European relations than lend-lease or NATO.

The Eurocup is a two-day event that puts one American and one European in the same boat. They fish for numbers and size, with the fisherman who gets the best combination of the two winning that day's competition and earning his team a point. Twelve points are up for grabs each day.

The European team was made up of fishermen from France, Spain and Portugal. Frenchman Benigne Ampaud had the tournament's lunker, a 1,660-gram beauty he caught the first day of competition.

Something else I didn't know: As dominating as American bass fishermen are they are nowhere near as dominating as American bass.

It turns out largemouth bass are close to the top of the list when it comes to fish species that are considered bad news in other countries.

Largemouth bass have been exported to almost every corner of the globe and in many of those corners they are about as welcome as foot fungus. Largemouth haven't thrived everywhere they have been released, but in many of the places where they have it has been at the expense of native fish.

On a list of the 100-worst invasive species, as compiled by the Species Specialist Group, largemouth bass share a spot with red fire ants and Dutch elm disease. Rainbow trout and brown trout also make the top 100, proving that one man's treasure is another man's trash.

It's the rare country that hasn't at least tried to develop largemouth bass fisheries and now some of those countries, like Japan, are trying their darnedest to get rid of them.

But in most parts of Europe, bass are still welcome additions. Because of that those of us who break into the chant "USA, USA" during international competitions still have something to chant about.

Our golfers, baseball players, soccer players and basketball teams might be playing second and third fiddle, but our fishermen are proving the United States can still kick bass.