- Mark Zona
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I have to say that when I found out that we were doing Fantasy Fishing during the Bassmaster show for the 2006 Elite Series, I thought, "Hmmm, I guess that'll be cool."
I could never have imagined, not for even a moment, that three grown men, Jerry McKinnis, Tommy Sanders and I, would become so absolutely, positively obsessed with winning this silly game. By the end of the season that is exactly what happened.
Here is a quick recap of some of last year's Fantasy Fishing highlights: Tommy Sanders, actually picked Morizu Shimizu to win at Kentucky Lake. I mean, come on. You have got to cry foul on that one!
At dinner that weekend, I actually started to believe that Tommy Sanders was a true-to-form fortune teller.
It doesn't stop there, it gets better. We are going to the best smallmouth lake in the country, Lake Champlain, and Jerry McKinnis, a.k.a. "The Hammer", decides to pick quite possibly the worst smallmouth fisherman in the world, Denny Brauer. What happens? Denny blows the entire tournament away with giant sacks of largemouth. Go figure.
Not to pat my own back, but picking little Davy Wolak at Lake Wylie was the stuff that Fantasy Fishing dreams are made of! In one word, magical!
Then there was the whole dynamic of actually cheering for our teams at the actual tournaments! The amazement of being at a weigh-in and having Tommy Sanders and I rooting verbally against Jerry McKinnis was proof of pure mania.
At times I even witnessed Tommy Sanders running at a full sprint down the bank to get to one of his picks. For what reason, all in hopes that he would be able to rush back with news that could crush, shatter & dismantle all of my Fantasy Fishing points!
There were even times that I accused Jerry McKinnis and Tommy Sanders of making pre-tournament phone calls in hopes of bettering their odds of success. (Of course, I never did anything like that.)
By the end of the year what was it that I really ended up learning? I learned that it wasn't about winning. It was about seeing three grown men absolutely making complete fools out of themselves for no rhyme or reason.
On that basis alone, I can't wait to start it all again. OK, maybe there is a shred of wanting to win it all, but really it is more about purely beating Jerry and Tommy!
After winning the title of Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing Champion of the Planet, I came to the realization that it must be the exact same feeling that this year's 2007 Bassmasters Champion will feel when he's on stage raising his trophy over his head!
When I received my trophy on the show at the end of the year, there was such a rush of emotions flowing through my body! It was truly indescribable.
Have the endorsements that come with this honor been great? Has it changed my family's life?
Most of all, it just came down to the fact that I proved victorious over two of the most competitive people that I have ever met, Jerry McKinnis and Tommy Sanders!
Fantasy fishing becomes competitive obsession