2012 Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #3 Cayuga Lake - Seneca Falls, NY, Aug 16 - 18, 2012

The dots between the letters

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

“I will provide for you
and I'll stand by your side…”


Dateline:  B.A.S.S.

They are the dots,

between the letters.

Without them, those dots, it’s just a fish.


But it is the dots  .  .  .  ., that make us,


That make us, B.A.S.S.

Half a million strong.

Men, women, young, old, North, South, East, West.

It is the dots, that allow us to do what we do.

It is the dots, that provide us our stage.

It is the dots, who give us the trophies we hold.

Half a million strong.

Yet, for the most part, their names are whispered.  Appreciated, yes, but nameless, but faceless, most known only by their mailing address label.

The dots, between the letters.

The dots, that make us more than just a fish.

The dots, our membership.

The dots, who power us.

“…this train
dreams will not be thwarted…”


“They are the backbone of the B.A.S.S. Opens.”

Chris Bowes, the B.A.S.S. dude who runs the Opens shindig and I are sitting on an empty stage facing Cayuga Lake.

The lake is calm, dew coats the grass, dew coats the air, the morning is clean, crisp.

The morning waits,

for the afternoon weigh-in.  The morning makes sure we have a fresh start to the 3rd dust up of the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open.

The final get-go for the boats that drove north.

“db, probably half the field of the Opens are just regular guys, regular ladies climbing these steps to get to right there.”

Right There.

A two foot by maybe five foot rubber mat.

On the stage called, B.A.S.S.

“This is a member organization db, and these guys they drive the train, they are the backbone of it, for every one here there are dozens and dozens at home that want to be right here.”

Here, on a dusty rubber mat.

We who stand on a stage.

We who cross a stage.

We sometimes forget how special it is, this platform.

We sometimes forget, while we stand on the stage,

we are not the ones who built it.

We only borrow it.

From, the dots.

“This stage, it is the ‘go-get-em’ stage for all the members back at home.  They see their buddy up here from their local fishing club, he’s living the dream they, we, all aspire to.”

And then Chris said something that became the genesis for this story, a simple unremarkable sentence that lead to remarkable results, “db, in a very short time some guy you have never heard of will stand right there (and he points to the mat behind the podium) right there, and that guy who will have never stood on this stage before in his life…soon that guy will be standing there.  How cool is that.”

In fact, very cool.

“…this train
faith will be rewarded…”



I’m thinking this, time to meet the backbone of the Opens.

Time to go one on one with the membership.

As they come off the stage they have provided us with.

But who…which ones…I don’t know a thing about the regular guys in line.



But know this, after 30 some years in the biz managing to do this, I have interviewed hundreds, if not more, of people, and from all of that there is one overriding gift that has come my way from them…they all…all of us…EVERYONE has a story.

Society, is stories grouped.

And all you have to do, is listen.


This is what I do.

The line from the first flight is standing behind me at the holding tanks.  I know a couple of the guys in line, Elite dudes and dudes trying to become a part of Team Elite…sort of semi pro’s of the sport.

I take both of those groups out of the askin’ questions to equation.

Then I do this, I turn to a young lady leaning over the fence trying to see the fish in the tanks, and to her I say exactly this, “Hey do me a favor, pick a number between 1 and 20.”

She just looks at me.

I lift up my media badge that says I’m fully licensed to ask dumb things like that.

She looks at it, looks at me, back down to the media badge then…”Eight.”

“Thank you,” I say so she doesn’t hate all the media and then turn around and count eight guys from the end of the line.

And then…walk up to the dude.

“Hey dude…what’s your name.”

“Robert Lett.”

“Are you a member of BASS.”

“Yep, since about 2003.”

“Good…we’re going to talk.”

“…you'll need a good companion for
this part of the ride…”