CELEBRATION, Fla. — Historic Daytona International Speedway attracts not only the world's best motorsports drivers, it attracts the world's best anglers.
On a rainy Monday, six Bassmaster Elite Series anglers visited 29-acre Lake Lloyd, located in the historic infield of Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla., after the Elite circuit concluded its season this past weekend on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga.
The pros included Florida anglers Peter Thliveros of Jacksonville, Chris Lane of Winter Haven and Preston Clark of Palatka. Also participating was Toyota Rookie of the Year winners Derek Remitz (2007), Steve Kennedy (2006) and Greg Hackney (2004).
Several members of the media, including the Miami Herald, Daytona Beach News-Journal and Florida Times-Union, teamed with the pros to try their fishing know-how amid the historic surroundings of "The World Center of Racing."
"I had no idea how big it (DIS) was. I've never been here. Coming through the tunnel it was impressive," Thliveros said. "I'll bet there's lots of fish in this place — including some big ones."
When it was all said and done, Louisiana's Greg Hackney landed the biggest fish of the day, which he estimated to be 7 pounds.
"What an honor to have some of the best anglers in the world stop by the World Center of Racing," said Robin Braig, DIS president. "A lot of great drivers, from Dale Earnhardt to Dave Marcis to Darrell Waltrip, have cast their lines into Lake Lloyd.
"What a great fishin' hole to spend the day on."
Swindle charges to Classic berth
Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala., is elated to be among the 36 Bassmaster Elite Series pros bound for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell, Feb. 22-24, out of Greenville, S.C.
Going into the Elite season finale last week on Florida's Lake Toho, Swindle was 49th in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race that determines Classic qualifiers.
"I actually went into the event assuming I was out of the Classic. I had braced myself for the disappointment," said the 2004 Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
The first day at Toho, when he was in 51st place, seemed to confirm that he wouldn't be competing on Lake Hartwell in February. But by Friday, then he jumped to 25th place, Swindle felt a glimmer of hope.
"As the tournament started to unfold, I thought there might be an outside shot, and my nerves went sky-high," Swindle said. "Then on Saturday around noon I caught two — a 4-pounder and a 5-pounder — within 15 minutes of each other. I culled twice, and when the last one was in the boat, I started celebrating."
He had secured a Classic berth. His 13th-place finish at Toho earned 251 points, just enough to slide in under the Classic cut line in 36th position in the standings.
"I breathed a big sigh of relief, and I still can hardly believe I made it," he said Monday.
WBT Angler of the Year race
Sheri Glasgow of Muskogee, Okla., is looking to zero-in on the Toyota Women's Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year title.
She leads the season-long AOY race as it heads to the finish line this week. The final event for the Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats is Thursday through Saturday on the Red River out of Shreveport/Bossier City, La.
Glasgow moved to the top of the WBT points race in March. She has remained well in front of her challengers, but she's not taking anything for granted.
"I don't want to have a relaxed attitude about it because the (Red River) tournament's not over until it's over," Glasgow said.
She said she did the "points math" and concluded she could finish in 54th place and still capture the AOY title.
"I've had a couple people say, 'You just need to go and catch a fish,' " Glasgow said, referring to the fact that competitors must weigh in at least one fish to score any points in an event. "But I don't ever go to a tournament to catch just a fish. I don't want that to be my mentality, and I don't even know that one fish would do it."
Within 150 points of Glasgow are Tammy Richardson of Amity, Ark.; Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga.; Audrey McQueen of Canon City, Colo.; and Lucy Mize of Ben Lomond, Ark.
Besides the AOY title, at stake for WBT pros in Louisiana are 12 slots in the 2008 Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship. It's set for South Carolina's Lake Keowee, in conjunction with the Feb. 22-24 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C.
Red River event weigh-ins will begin at 3 p.m. ET daily, Thursday through Saturday, at Red River South Marina in Bossier City; www.ESPNOutdoors.com will provide live, streaming video of the weigh-ins beginning at 3 p.m. each day.
One lucky person will win a $50,000 Triton-Mercury boat package in December as the grand prize of a sweepstakes held at www.Bassmaster.com and www.ESPNOutdoors.com.
Through Dec. 1, fishing fans can enter online for a chance to win a 2008 Triton boat model 20X2SC with a 225L Mercury Optimax engine. Entries are being accepted at ESPNOutdoors.com, Bassmaster.com and ESPN.com.
Five of the 36 Bassmaster Elite Series pros who qualified last Sunday for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic are Classic rookies.
Two of the five are used to being rookies. Just having wrapped up their rookie season are Classic qualifiers Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., and Matthew Sphar of Pavilion, N.Y.
The road to their first Classic was longer for Kevin Short (See column) of Mayflower, Ark., Fred Roumbanis of Auburn, Calif., and Chris Lane of Winter Haven, Fla. Roumbanis has competed in BASS events since 2004, while Lane has fished BASS since 2003. Short's first entry in a BASS pro-level event was in 1998.
WBT anglers Denese Freeman of Lawton, Okla., and Linda Berry of Madison, N.C., volunteer their time to encourage fellow anglers to introduce people to fishing.
Freeman and Berry, who compete regularly as co-anglers on the Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats circuit, ask fellow anglers to sign a simple pledge called Angler's Legacy.
Angler's Legacy is a nationwide initiative of www.TakeMeFishing.org, which is part of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. RBFF is a non-profit organization devoted to increasing participation in sportfishing and building awareness of the importance of conserving America's aquatic resources.
Fishing and football
"I came into this tournament with the goal to get into the Classic, and it was a pretty tall order. I practiced hard, I struggled, but I found fish. It would have been a perfect week if Alabama hadn't won."
— Mike Wurm of Hot Springs, Ark., upon finishing 35th in the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series points standings to secure his 10th Classic berth while feeling the sting of the Razorbacks' 41-38 loss Saturday to the Crimson Tide.