This past weekend on the shores of famed Lake Guntersville, amid the autumn colors of the southern Appalachians, at a table filled with deep fried pickles and catfish fillets, was all the faith you’ll ever need to believe that young America is going to be just fine -- and that people actually win those trip-of-a-lifetime sweepstakes contests you’ve always felt were just a marketing farce.
Bassmaster Open angler Chip Porche’ (pronounced ‘poor-shay’) is in an enviable position. He’s free. And he’s dreaming. He’s freer than a set of Jimmy Buffett or Zac Brown song lyrics – and dreaming of a career as a professional bass angler.
Terry “Big Show” Scroggins and Gerald “GMan” Swindle are trying hard to walk through their daily routines as best buddies on professional angling’s most competitive tour and act like it’s business as usual this week in Montgomery.
Problem is, it’s not one bit normal, because the mano-a-mano bracket elimination format that B.A.S.S. is using for Toyota Trucks All-Star Week has placed Scroggins and Swindle in a head to head competition that’s going to force one to directly eliminate the other from the bullfight.
Forgive Mike Iaconelli for talking on the phone while eating. He has a very busy schedule, and his only chance to talk about marker buoys was amidst bites of cheeseburger in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport before boarding a flight home to the family he loves dearly.
By the time the scales stopped spinning at West Point Lake, Kevin VanDam felt like he’d been sitting between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for four days on a west Georgia roller coaster ride.
KVD posted up and down daily limits ranging in weight from 23-pounds on Day 2 to 7-pounds on the final day. In the end, he posted his third Top 12 in five events thus far this season, finishing this one in seventh place.
The man who virtually expects to win every time he launches his boat, made no excuses for coming up a little short at West Point.
There a lot of things Terry “Big Show” Scroggins does well. Catching bass being at the top of the list -- as proven by his current second overall position in the Toyota Trucks Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
Add to the list of Scroggins’ talents: grilling rib eyes, exploiting deep water structure, turning wrenches on anything that needs fixed, and making people feel better about life with his southern drawl laden wit and generous heart.
Davy Hite didn’t become one of the most decorated pros in B.A.S.S. history by making bad decisions. His decision to remain patient in a Pickwick tailrace netted him yet another win last week, and his decision to sign-up for two of bass fishing’s best customer loyalty programs just put another $3,500 in Hite’s bank account.
One of bass fishing’s most electric personalities sits in the driver’s seat of his Toyota Tundra Double Cab, glances at the 89,156 miles on the odometer, and begins to calmly reflect.
Eighty-nine thousand one hundred and fifty-six is more than a number. It’s evidence of a career and a life lived largely away from home - distant from two souls Mike loves so much, Drew and Rylie, daughters from his first marriage. They have school to attend and field hockey games to play while dad is on the road playing a crazy game called professional bass fishing.
If you were broke down on the side of the road, Terry “Big Show” Scroggins is the guy you’d want to call. Not only did he used to be a tow truck driver, but the 5-time B.A.S.S. tournament winner is also capable of fixing just about anything, and he’s got a huge heart for lending a hand to others.
Along with Scroggins’ huge heart, capable hands, and “It’s all good” demeanor comes a tongue full of verbal quips dripping in southern drawl -- delivering relentless perspective to make all of those within earshot smile.
I met a dreamer last night. He was holding steadfast to hopes for a bright future as a full-time B.A.S.S. pro. I was holding a Canon and a notepad.
Fact is, here at the season opener; following the mandatory Bassmaster Elite Series pre-tournament meeting, there were a lot of dreamers walking around in that Tavares, Florida parking lot. Few of them were as young as 23-year old Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Brandon Palaniuk.
Even fewer of the dreamers had spent the previous night sleeping in their tow vehicles like he did.