BASS Flash: Classic pros understand junior anglers' plight


Editor's Note: Streaming video of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic weigh-ins on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are available on www.ESPN360.com, ESPN's customized broadband service. Coverage is offered to BASS INSIDER members and ESPN360 customers. To join BASS INSIDER, visit www.BassInsider.com. The best of 2004 weigh-ins along with features and daily re-caps will be available on ESPN360 throughout the Classic.

The importance of encouraging younger generations of bass anglers certainly is not lost on the CITGO Bassmaster pros.

Some of the contenders in this week's 35th annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh arrived early to participate in the Junior Bassmaster World Championship, held on the Allegheny River at John P. Murtha Park in Kittanning on Monday. The pros were paired with the young anglers during the event, which awarded $27,000 scholarships and prizes.

The pros' participation is part of an overall commitment to encourage more youngsters to get excited about fishing, specifically competitive angling.

"The thing that attracts kids to sports is competition," four-time Classic champion Rick Clunn said. Unfortunately, it's not the aesthetics that you and I or our fathers enjoyed. It's competition. That's what attracts them to video games. That's why they play against others in their school.

"So if you want to attract people to fishing, then we need competition. We need this type of event (the Junior Bassmaster World Championship). I'm glad to be involved in it."

Two-time Classic qualifier Terry Scroggins is a big fan of the Junior Bassmaster program as well.

"I think it's great," the Florida pro said. "I think it's a great way to get more kids interested in our sport and to help create the next generation of fishermen. I know my son was really hoping to make it to the world championship, but he didn't quite make it."

To Skeet Reese, the Junior Bassmaster World Championship is especially well-timed. The California pro said he recently read a USA Today article headlined 'Childhood Pastimes are Increasingly Moving Indoors.' "They have a list of declining activities and fishing is fourth. In 1994, 25 percent of kids fished, now it's down to 18 percent," he said.

"I think the No. 1 thing I love about this (Junior) Classic is I know that these kids from all around the country are spending their time outdoors fishing and enjoying it. They're using our resources and enjoying Mother Nature, catching fish and having fun. And they're not sitting on the couch and having to play a video game to get the stimulation. These are the kids that, my guess, will excel a lot more in life down the road. They're going to be a lot happier as people when they get older because they understand and respect how to enjoy things other than man-made things.

"So it's cool to see these kids have these hopes and aspirations and the joy of fishing that has been instilled in them. I know that for me, fishing was the key to my salvation. If it wasn't for fishing there's no telling where I might have ended up because I got into a lot of trouble when I was a kid. And fishing was the one thing that got me going in a better direction."

Classic webcast

Bassmaster.com will cover every minute of Classic action Friday through Sunday through its leader board. Log onto starting at 7 a.m. EST each morning of competition to see real-time catch information delivered from the water.

At 4 p.m., the site begins live weigh-in coverage highlighted by a special Internet audio Webcast. BASSMASTER Magazine senior writer Tim Tucker and CITGO Bassmaster Open pro Gary Giudice will provide play-by-play and analysis of the weigh-in action.

And, if you can't tune in to ESPN for Classic coverage, BASS INSIDER members can watch live streaming video of both the Saturday and Sunday weigh-ins through ESPN360.

On the mend

For the first time in nearly three decades, Woo Daves will not attend the Classic, neither as a contender or working for a sponsor. The 2000 Classic champion last week underwent prostate surgery to remove a cancerous growth. He will spend six to eight weeks recovering and expects to be ready for the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Tour season.

Weirdest catch

Ohio pro Frank Scalish long ago mastered the tube dragging technique that is so popular around Lake Erie. But a couple of years ago, that tactic produced a rather unusual catch.

"I was dragging a tube on the bottom when I caught a tennis shoe," the former Classic qualifier said. "It was about a size 11 Nike. If I remember it right, I hooked the shoe lace. I assumed it was a walleye because of the way it didn't fight much."

Did you know?

Four anglers led the Classic the first and second days, but did not win it. Three were in consecutive Classics: North Carolina's Paul Chamblee finished third in 1975; Jim Bitter of Florida finished second in 1989; Tommy Biffle of Oklahoma placed second in 1990; and Texas' Zell Rowland finished fourth in 1991.

Pro birthdays

Texas pro Todd Faircloth celebrates his 30th birthday on July 25. Tennessee's Rufus Johnson will be 32 on Aug. 2. Texas pro and lure designer Gary Yamamoto becomes 62 on the 5th. Kentucky pro Mike Auten celebrates his 36th birthday on Aug. 6. Sam Swett (42) of Louisiana and Arkansas' Mike Wurm (53) share the 15th. Ohio's Joe Thomas turns 43 on the 19th, while Massachusetts' Danny Correia will be 44 on Aug. 21.
If I hadn't become a BASS pro ...

Veteran Florida pro Pete Thliveros would still be working as a world-class chef.

The said it

"I've worked the past Classics for sponsors and I've been to a couple of other ones. Every one that I went to, I wanted to make the Classic that much more. Now that I'm going to actually be in it, I think it's going to be unbelievable how much I'll want to be in it every single year. It's just now starting to sink in how important this tournament is and can be for your career and your whole future. It's really exciting. I haven't even participated in the tournament yet and I'm already dying to get back in it and do it again. It's pretty cool." — Virginia pro John Crews, who took five years to qualify for the Classic.

For more inside information on the world of pro bass fishing, check out BASS INSIDER.