- Steve Bowman, Outdoors
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Editor's Note: Longtime BASS Senior Writer Tim Tucker was killed Monday, July 16, in an automobile accident near Gainesville, Fla. His contributions to our sport were immeasurable, and he will be deeply missed by everyone who loves bass fishing.
I can still remember meeting Tim Tucker 20 years ago. It was at the Bassmaster's Classic on the James River in Richmond, Va.
I was covering my first Classic, trying hard to look like I knew what I was doing and in awe of those around me. There were the usual suspects: Ray Scott, Bob Cobb, Larry Nixon, Guido Hibdon, Hank Parker and Roland Martin. As a fledgling outdoor writer, I was also starry-eyed by the mentors of the writing game like Steve Price, Matt Vincent, Dave Precht and of course, Tim Tucker.
All of those are great people, but it was Tucker who stuck his hand out first, made me sit beside him at the press conference, and teach me a lesson on the finer points of sifting through the BS of a Classic anglers talking about their days on the water, which normally meant they weren't saying anything.
From Tucker's point of view, he knew the importance of getting information out to the people and that it be as accurate as an angler could possibly make it. That's not an easy task when it comes to secretive anglers. His view was you couldn't grow on secrets.
That's why Tucker was in his element at a press conference, more than once he would call BS, while the rest of us were apt to have already taken the bait from the angler and ready to run with it. Tucker would always be the one to get just a bit deeper, not taking good-enough information as the best information he could get.
He taught a lot of us in the writing game that our relevance wasn't as spokesmen of the anglers, but as spokesmen of the sport of bass fishing and reporters of the obvious, whether it was beneficial to an angler or not. That little bit of direction changed the sport of bass fishing in ways that can't be measured, but have certainly been beneficial to the growth of the sport.
And it has grown, with Tucker there, unafraid to call BS, every step of the way. He was outspoken and unafraid to speak his mind. But he always had what was best for the sport at the top of his mind.
A few years later we were in Baltimore and the Classic practice day was cancelled because of Hurricane Fred. With all the anglers and writers with nothing to do, we spent the day holed up in a room discussing the future of BASS.
With anglers like Nixon, Rick Clunn, Ken Cook and all the icons of the day, we writers gathered around tables and made a wish list of things we would like to see in our sport for the next 20 years.
The last few years, Tucker and I have talked about that day often. Our conversation always centered on the dreams we had then that have been far surpassed. Most of that list was simply hoped-for ideas with no real plan to attain them.
I wouldn't be surprised if Tucker has stowed that list of dreams somewhere.
It included things like increased coverage of Bassmaster events in newspapers. At the time, the Classic was the only fishing event most newspapers covered. Today, every event garners news coverage all over the world. We couldn't even have dreamed that the Internet would be around. But when it came, he jumped in with both feet.
We dreamed of live television, shows that aired timely on a national network, coverage of an angler's whole day. There was a wish for increased purses for anglers and the opportunity for more anglers to make a living at the game. At that time, there were less than 10 anglers who could say they were making a living solely on the pro game. It was actually much less. Most of the anglers still had other jobs.
The list included more crowd appeal to draw in a weigh-in audience besides anglers' wives and relatives. The case can be made that more fans have watched a live Elite Series weigh-in, than watched every weigh in the 1990s.
Tucker was one of the first to realize that anglers and the organizations had to excel together. It couldn't be about one or the other. He covered both on the radio, television, magazines, news print and the Internet, all for the purpose of spreading the word. And his original list has basically been checked off with new dreams added.
Bass fishing has come a long way and Tucker has been a major part of that.
You never know why things happen the way they do, but maybe God was ready for Tucker to do something else.
I have to believe he is now in sitting next to Moses, completing an interview on currents and how an angler can get the best benefit from the parting of the Red Sea. And of course, he's occasionally calling BS, when something doesn't quite add up.
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