The BassMaster's Classic 2009 is in the books. Rightly known as the "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing" this event is hardnosed fishing, glitz and celebrity, all at the same time. Skeet Reese stayed focused, Iaconelli made a great run and a South Dakota angler had everyone on the edge of their seats.
It was pure fun.
Mike Otto and I manned the Pond Boss booth at the Expo. The convention center in Shreveport was spilling over with people all three days. I have never seen so many people at a trade show in my entire life. I must say, having a booth at trade shows for a niche magazine like Pond Boss don't pay off. When you sell magazine subscriptions at $35 each, trying to justify the cost of a booth, hotels and travel is a stretch...but this show was absolutely worth it. It was a great branding opportunity for our niche magazine and the feedback was terrific. We couldn't say that last year.
And, throughout the show, there was money changing hands everywhere.
Not in Shreveport last weekend.
I've never seen so many happy vendors, ever.
Onward and upward.....
I got to spend time with Ray Scott and Bill Dance. Visited as much as we could...before the crowds came. Here's a few photos for you.
The Pond Boss booth was in the second floor foyer of the Shreveport Convention Center, between the escalators. Great spot. We had so many people coming by at times that we were almost invisible.
Mike Otto worked the crowd like a carnival barker. He has an uncanny ability to recognize a pondmeister in a crowd.
Next to us was a company that sells small boats. They are a neat product, perfect for our ponds and small lakes. They are driven by twin trolling motors attached under the boat. Foot pedals in the front of the boat allow you to drive it hands-free and almost spin on a dime. I'll tell you more about them when I get more details from the company. I want one. It's perfect for small ponds.
Across from us was a booth by a urologist. A urologist...at a fishing show? Otto was intrigued as they set up. He went over and asked them if they could do a quick prostate exam. Nope...they were just showing off their robotic surgical machine. It was like a state of the art video game for prostate surgery. Their motto for the show was, "You fish for fish. We fish for the cure." It was a compelling display. Boys, if you are past 40, have your prostrate checked. I'm up to bat in about two weeks.
Lots of fishing celebrities at the show. Here's Davy Hite, signing autographs for people. The famous anglers are approachable and friendly. They understand the value of signing autographs and hanging out with each and every one of their fans.
The "G-Man", Gerald Swindle, was around the corner from us, doing what he does so well.
Even though she didn't make the cut for the final day of fishing, the first-ever female participant, Kim Bain-Moore, was available at the Expo, signing autographs and answering questions. She was just proud to be there.
A really well done display.
Perenial power-angler Kevin VanDam didn't make it to the third day, either. He found fish during practice, but a cold front blew through and his fish moved. He didn't get on his game. Gracious and humble, he shrugged it off. He sees this as the most important tournament of the year, but he also sees it as the first of many. Here, he's being interviewed by ESPN on Sunday, while the top 25 were back on the water, doing what they do best.
Up close...interview on ESPN.
Banner as you make your way through the show.
These photos are just shots of the show and what you could see at every turn. It's truly a giant spectacle of a show.
Good friend TJ Stallings of True Turn Hooks, TTI-Blakemore, had a nice display. He introduced me to Dr. Rick Blackwell and "Five-Three", a young black angler trying to find his niche in the bass fishing business.
TJ, "Five Three" and Dr. Blackwell. "Five Three", aka Derrick Milsap, cut a rap cd about fishing and was at the show learning how to play the "game" of professional bass fishing. He is a sharp marketer and Dr. Blackwell is showing him the ropes. I listened to his cd yesterday while on my way to a ranch. I think Derrick might just find his spot in bass fishing. It's really funny, I met lots of young anglers at this show. Guys in their early 20's. Each one of them, when I asked them about their dream to fish the Classic, was confident they could compete. "Can you catch fish?" was my question. "Yes!" was their answer. But, that ain't enough. You have to figure out how to market yourself. That's exactly what young "Five-Three" was doing. I suspect he's got a chance to get out there. Remember that name...Derrick Milsap. I think we'll hear about him some more...all 5'3" of him.
Our good friend, Ray Scott, taking good care of my girls. Daughter Ashley on the left, and my bride, the Queen Debbie on the right. They entered the King's court and he made them feel loved.
I looked up once and saw Ray hanging out with Ray Murski. As many of you know, Ray Murski gave a young biologist, yours truly, his first shot at growing giant bass. Those two guys go a long way back. Murski fished in Ray Scott's very first tournament, back in 1967. Murski brought 7 anglers with him, for the tournament at Beaver Lake, in northwest Arkansas.
The two friends enjoyed the moment. Scott put a pink hat on Murski, who shared the revelry as good friends do.
Young Ethan Lovelace shared some of the spotlight with Ray Scott, also.
I'll tell you...if the BassMaster's Classic comes with a half-day drive of your house, go! It's huge fun and an enlightening opportunity to see the inside of big time bass fishing.
Debbie and I enjoyed it immensely. So did Mike and Jane Otto. Good camaraderie and fun.
Next, we head down to Port Aransas, Texas for the weekend and the annual Texas Outdoor Writer's Conference.