CELEBRATION, Fla. He has been in front all season, but Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Derek Remitz of Madison, Ala., can expect some serious heel-nipping in the Toyota Rookie of the Year race next month, coming down to the final event of the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Fellow rookie Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., has been close to overtaking Remitz several times. Ashley pulled to a midseason tie with Remitz, then dropped behind. After regaining some ground, Ashley is just 61 points away from catching Remitz.
"I'm still not out of it," Ashley said.
Mathematically speaking, neither is Elite rookie Matthew Sphar of Pavilion, N.Y., only 148 points behind Remitz.
It's possible for a pro to garner up to 320 points at one event, but such a big points gain comes only with a wire-to-wire win.
The Toyota Rookie of the Year honor comes with a $25,000 bonus. The September 13-16 Sunshine Showdown presented by Allstate Boat Insurance on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga is the rookies' final chance to pump up their points.
Fishing fans now can get results of BASS events via their Web-enabled mobile phones. ESPN Alerts, a free mobile phone news service, allows subscribers to sign up from their mobile phone's Web browser, then select which text-message alerts they want to receive. Besides BASS event results, subscribers can elect to receive alerts that provide game scores and other breaking sports news.
Easy instructions on how to sign up available here.
Which six amateur anglers will qualify to compete head-to-head with the pros in the Feb. 22-24 2008 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell in Greenville, S.C.?
That's a question to be determined by the BASS Federation Nation Championship. For a spot in the championship, Federation Nation members are now competing in divisional tournaments across the country.
Last Friday, when the BASS Federation Nation Northern Divisional on Lake Erie wrapped up, eight more anglers qualified for the championship and took one more step toward their Classic dream.
One of last week's qualifiers was Don Fowler of Cadillac, Mich. The retired detective not only beat everyone else on the Michigan state team, but also took top individual honors with a winning weight of 58 pounds, 0 ounces.
The other seven qualifiers out of the Northern event were: Jason Stangel of Two Rivers, Wis.; Steve Smith of Johnstown, Ohio; Justin Rowse of O'Neill, Neb.; Brent Haimes of Mazeppa, Minn.; Ron Fabiszak of South Bend, Ind.; James Sullivan of Strunberry Point, Iowa; and Larry Coleman of St. Anne, Ill.
The Northern event was the fourth of six divisionals. Remaining events include the Eastern Divisional, Sept. 16-21 out of Hartford, Conn.; and the Mid-Atlantic Divisional, Sept. 23-28 out of Pittsburgh.
Casey at the mike
Besides catching bass, Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., has a talent for singing.
The winner of the Elite event on Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake in June, Ashley said he has been asked to contribute to a CD of fishing songs being produced by a Nashville company.
"I don't know when it will fall together," Ashley said of the country-music CD. "I don't know much about it yet, except that one of the other contributors won the Nashville Star (contest) this year."
So is a music career in Ashley's future?
"That's about as tough as trying to make it fishing," said Ashley, who sang the national anthem at two Elite events this season. "I've been singing all my life, but fishing's what I have my eye on now."
At 23, Ashley is the youngest pro on the Elite tour. He is second in the Toyota Rookie of the Year race. In the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, he's 29th.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro John Crews has great timing or at least very good luck.
His wife, Sonja Crews, gave birth Aug. 14 to a baby girl, Myah Jane Crews, just days after the proud father returned home to Salem, Va., from the Capitol Clash presented by Advance Auto Parts in Maryland, and a few days before he traveled to Arkansas for the Bassmaster Legends on Lake Dardanelle.
Kids in Russellville, Ark., can pitch, flip and cast this week at the Bassmaster CastingKids competition held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Legends presented by Ramada Worldwide on Lake Dardanelle.
The CastingKids event will be 2-5 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 25, and Sunday, Aug. 26, at Lake Dardanelle State Park, where the Legends pros will weigh in daily at 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
Kids compete in two age groups for the right to advance to higher levels of competition and ultimately to qualify for the CastingKids championship in February at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic.
White County, Ark. Bassmasters is the host of the BASS Federation Nation club for the Russellville CastingKids event. To sign up, kids can call 877-BASS-USA and ask to be connected with the BASS Youth Department.
Jeff Reynolds of Idabel, Okla., has caught the largest bass to date in the 2007 Elite Series season.
Reynolds weighed in a 12-pound, 11-ounce lunker March 30, the second day of the Elite Series event on Clear Lake in California. His fish was the Purolator Big Bass of the four-day tournament, and the largest of the season so far.
For almost 10 years, Elite Series pro Mark Tyler of Vian, Okla., has held the record for the largest fish caught at a BASS event.
In April 1999, Tyler hauled in a 14-9 behemoth at the California Delta during a Bassmaster Invitational.
Hite on Scroggins
"I'm going to go to Terry Scroggins' house and wash his car and paint his house and do everything I can for him."
South Carolina Elite pro Davy Hite (tongue in cheek) on how he can best convince Florida fisheries expert Scroggins to spill his secrets before the season-ending event of the Bassmaster Elite Series on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga