2011 Bassmaster Classic Louisiana Delta - New Orleans, LA, Feb 18 - 20, 2011

Internet and rookies to long ago trip and recent tragedy

Jerry McKinnis

I'm back. I haven't written my blog for so long, you thought I was gone didn't you?

Well no, after a few weeks hiatus, I'm back and ready to go.

Actually, during the Classic I caught the flu so bad and I'm just now starting to feel like myself. I was so badly sick I was afraid you would catch it just by reading my writings.

At any rate, here are a couple of things that are on my mind today.

I have always thought that the internet was being underused as far as tournament coverage goes. During Classic week and the first week of the Elite Series I've felt some of my crazy thoughts start to come true concerning great coverage.

Don't get me wrong, we're still a long way off, but the past four weeks have showed me what can be ahead. Our Bassmaster.com content team is putting good stuff out there like never before and you the viewer are gobbling it up.

Our Facebook page is taking on a completely new feel and it too is growing -- slowly but surely. You can't imagine how dedicated all the people behind these projects are and most importantly how smart they are about the sport of professional bass fishing and how well they know all the players.

And speaking of players, I'm not sure of this, maybe I forget from year to year, but the 2011 rookie gang in the Elite Series just might be the best ever. I'm talking good guys with great personalities who light up when you turn a camera on them.

It appears that they can all catch fish and they wouldn't have qualified if they couldn't. Making your way through the Opens or the Federation Nation events is no picnic. But time will tell about fishing capabilities. No, I'm talking about big smiles, full of information, touch of cockiness and charisma. I've already talked too much about Brandon Palaniuk, but how about Jonathon VanDam, Andy Montgomery and Ben Parker. Remember those names, and I know I'm leaving several out but you get my point.

Wait a minute though, those are all youngsters. How about "rookie" Lee Sisson, who just barely missed the 12 cut this week? What a story ... why? I'll tell you why. Lee is as old as I am. Well, maybe not that old, but close. Boy, am I pulling for Lee.

You take all of our new guys, add them to last year's crop ... Bradley Roy, Cliff Crochet, etc ... then mix them in with the big boys and the Elite Series looks pretty salty.

One more quick thought. Back in the 70s, my TV show was sponsored by Stren Line. One of the main guys at Stren and for the life of me, I can't remember his name, called me and ask me to do a show with a youngster that he thought had a lot of promise. He imagined that it would do some good for this up-and-coming bass fisherman as well as make good television.

So, he gave me the number and I lined up a trip with this kid to float the Suwannee River in Florida and see if we couldn't catch some of those Suwannee River bass. The trip went well, we caught bass, witnessed some incredibly scenery and came away with good television.

My show as you may remember was never about how many or how big the fish were, it was about exposing good guys who were real heroes in the outdoors world and although young (actually we were both young in those days)m I had met a real champ.

I wish I could remember the man's name at Stren, so I could thank him for introducing me to Shaw Grigsby. So, here I am 35-40 years from that trip with a very strange position at B.A.S.S., and guess who wins the very first Elite Series event that I'm associated -- Shaw Grigsby.

What made it even stranger was watching him at the weigh-in stage pointing out his grandson in the audience. That just can't be.

Now, this is my last thought for today.

My involvement with the late Kevin Oldham was nothing more than just a flash of light. But as I've said before, I will never forget that encounter.

It's amazing how everyone, I mean everyone, is given those flashes and right in the middle of tragedy, there are tremendous blessings that can shape our lives.

Putting that in a simple way. Terry Brown, Angie Thompson, Gerald Swindle and Don Barone are better people because of Kevin Oldham.

If you're close to any or all of those four, or anyone else that was touched by Kevin, then you too have been blessed by the flash of light.

May the bass fishing world forever remember and support the Kevin Oldham Family. Especially Katie, Stella and Evelyn.

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