Three Days at the Bass Masters Classic
by Gary De Armond
Exactly one week ago today myself and my wife started out to New Orleans to cover the 2011 Bass Masters Classic, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The excitement of having the opportunity to not only attend the event but to have media access made the ten plus hour drive seem trivial, it wasn't. I stop for gas in a little Louisiana town and when I went inside the store to pay for the gas I noticed a familiar face but couldn't quite place it. While pumping the gas this gentleman came up to me and said “I know you, your that KMOO guy he said I fish all the tournaments on Lake Fork and listen to KMOO all the time but why are you in Louisiana? I told him I was going to cover THE CLASSIC for KMOO he couldn't believe we would go so far to report on a bass tournament. I told him at KMOO we speak rod and reel.
Friday morning began the first day of competition so it was off the the arena to pick up my press credentials and file my first report of the day, then drive across downtown New Orleans to the convention center and the BASS CLASSIC EXPO. Now I tell you, if your a fisherman you have got to attend one of these expos. It is like a big candy store for fisherman. Walking around the expo you can find samples of the latest and greatest products, seminars, free samples, and all the top pros there to answer your questions and sign autographs. I will say this, these professional fisherman are some of the nicest, friendliest celebrity's you will ever meet. On my way out to return to the area, I ran into Mr. Bob Sealy creator of the McDonald's Big Bass Splash. He tells me this years Lake Fork tournament will be bigger and better than ever before.
At the first days weigh-in you could feel the anticipation as the anglers started bringing in their days catch as each contestant told of his efforts to catch his fish. It became apparent about half of the field of fifty anglers made the 100 plus mile run to the Venice area, the southern most point in Louisiana. The other half of the field chose to stay closer to the launch site. Crowd favorite Kevin Van Dam's first day total of just under 20 pounds brought the crowd to it's feet and in 3rd place at the days end.
Saturday started early with another trip to the EXPO and a chance to meet some of fishing's biggest TV stars starting with Hank Parker, then Jimmy Houston and Roland Martin to name just a few. Those of you that listen to KMOO on tournament days have heard a record by Elite Series Angler Casey Ashley. The song, Fisherman, tells the story about fishing professionally for a living. In my interview Casey told me he was leaving for Nashville Sunday night to start work on his first album and he hoped to have it wrapped up before the start of the ELITE SERIES in March. We wish this talented young man the very best in not only his fishing career but his recording career as well.
Just before leaving the EXPO I heard a familiar voice and turned around to see Chief George Brasswell with Gary Yamamto Custom Baits, of course I had to have a few words with Chief. He is a tremendous fan of KMOO and tells people everywhere about how he and I work together broadcasting the Legend of Lake Fork Tournament. As, I was leaving one of the pros with Dicks Sporting Goods , the title sponsor of the expo, approached me and ask me if I was with KMOO, the station between Mineola and Alba upon confirming this he shook hands and said'' I listen to the station every time I get in range it's great”. Of course I agreed and headed back to the area for the day to weigh-in.
The second day's weigh-in is most important it not only effects the overall standings with the final the next day it is also cut down day. At the end of day 2 the field is cut down from 50 to only the top 25 for the final days competition. Once again Kevin
Van Dam wowed the crowd with a twenty two pound stringer giving him over 41 pounds and the tournament lead.
Sunday morning it was back to the arena media room to file my report to KMOO and prepare for the final weigh-in. The crowds started gathering for the 4:30 weigh-in around 2 PM and you could feel the excitement building. As the official weigh-in began ESPN's Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona kept the crowd in suspense as to the possible winner. After 19 anglers brought their catch to the scales it was time to introduce the Super Six, representing the top six anglers. The crowd erupted as each final weight was announced it became apparent Kevin Van Dam would be the Classic World Champion for the second time in two years, with cameras flashing and confetti falling from the ceiling KVD took the traditional ride around the arena as the 2011 BASS MASTERS CLASSIC came to a close.
If you are a serious fisherman you owe it to yourself to attend this yearly event and for local fans next years event will afford an excellent opportunity as the 2012 BASS MASTERS CLASSIC is returning to Shreveport La. and the Red River. Me I can't wait.