Travis Dunlap of San Antonio has been on Cloud 9 this week while meeting the Elite Series pros, just one of thousands of fans who turned out for the season-opening tournament.
Dunlap, 11, lives near San Antonio about 145 miles east of Del Rio. He and his father, Robert, regularly fish on a lake near their home. To say Travis is a fishing fan is an understatement.
His Plano 1148 tackle box served as an autograph canvas. The blue lids were covered with signatures from the pros, who were more than happy to sign for him and other fans. After Saturday's weigh-in at the Diablo East Marina, they signed, posed for photos and chatted with fans while waiting to see who would make today's 12-man cut.
"I probably have more than 40 autographs, I guess," Dunlap said. "Ish Monroe gave me a topwater bait. Mike Iaconelli put a No. 1 beside his name so I'd be able to find it (on the tackle box)".
Dunlap couldn't nail down a favorite pro.
"It's a tie between Ish, Kevin VanDam and Iaconelli," he said.
The pros have enjoyed the turnout this week, which included a large crowd at Wednesday's registration meeting.
Off to the office
Guys with 9-to-5 jobs hug their kids and spouse before heading to the office for the day.
For anglers, the difference is they're heading out on the lake instead of going to a desk. But some still get a good sendoff.
Alton Jones of Texas gave his wife, Jimmye Sue, and three kids a hug and kiss before the 12 Elite Series finalists took off. Julia Kennedy gave her husband, Steve, a kiss and then whispered something in his ear that made him smile.
Just another day at the office, sort of.
Hoping for big ones
Fred Roumbanis of California said his goal today is to catch 35 pounds, but he'll have to find some bigger fish than what he's been catching to reach it.
"I've been putting 4-pounders on the balance beam because they're all so close in weight," he said. "It's really crazy. I probably caught 20 4-pounders the other day. They're everywhere."
A 4-pound average is good almost anywhere else, but on Amistad today it won't cut the mustard.