This is the inaugural year for the Bassmaster Elite Series Marshal program. The Marshal program is where members of BASS can sign up for a minimal fee to ride along with their bass fishing heros for 2-3 days during the Elite Series tournaments. The first and foremost function of the marshals is to observe the Pros and make sure that all the tournament rules are followed. The second part of this program is to allow the fans an upclose and personal fishing experience to learn from the best through observation, questions, and conversations with their respective pros.
I traveled to Fort Madison, Iowa to be a marshal for the tournament being held on the Mississippi River, June 11th-14th. I signed up back in November and I had been waiting anxiously for this opportunity to marshal the "River Rumble", as it was titled by BASS. Fort Madison was alive and one could tell that the town was also waiting with great anticipation, as last year the tournament at this venue was cancelled due to high flood waters. Every shop and store had signs welcoming the anglers, and specials and discounts on food were seen on store-front windows and lighted signs.
My first day I was randomly paired with Guy Eaker. Guy has been fishing in BASS events for over 30 years and even into his 70's, he can still fish with the best of them. Guy's bait-of-choice for that first rainy day was a chatterbait. He utilized the chatterbait because the water was so murky, it looked like chocolate milk. The chatterbait gives off incredible vibrations, and Guy was able to land a few 3 pounders to place in the top 50 after the first day.
On the second day, I was paired with the angler Matt Reed. Matt was also a great guy and we conversed a lot as we traveled down river 70 miles and had to go through two lock and dams. Matt's bait-of-choice was a spinnerbait rigged with two Colorado blades to project the most vibration in the water. He ended catching one keeper fish above the 14 inch size limit to put him in 46th place after two days. The top 50 after two days earn a spot to fish on the third day, and this also guarantees these anglers to cash a check. He was excited and high-fives were given.
I learned a ton from Guy and Matt both, and I also was fortunate to pick Kevin Wirth's brain outside of our hotel on Friday night. I asked anything that came to mind and he answered the questions graciously and in-depth. I would suggest to anyone who is interested in bass fishing, whether it be a beginner or a tournament angler, to sign up for next year's Marshal program. It was a great learning experience and the pros were great.
For a more in-depth look at what I learned from Guy, Matt, and Kevin, visit my website at www.teambassackwards.com. I learned so much that I am breaking down each day and my experiences with each angler.