Shooting an on-the-water gallery today wasn't working very well due to 20 mph winds and sideways rain — not a good combo for a photographer toting a $3,500 Canon around.
So, Preuett and I decided to get off the water and better waterproof my camera. After a short conversation with The Legend himself, James Overstreet, he gave me a few effective methods to keep the moisture out of my camera.
The required redneck supplies include a big garbage bag and rubber bands... Real technological...
This one also hides my face, so no scaring the kids today... :)
"It's completely different than fishing at home," Bruce Cooke of Zimbabwe told us after Friday's weigh-in.
In fact, he described the Ouachita River as "treacherous" because of all the stumps. It is his first time fishing a river system, and while he tried to get in some of the back areas during practice, he felt it was a little dangerous.
"All the bass fishing done back home is on lakes," Cooke said, explaining that bass aren't in the rivers in Zimbabwe.
Cooke traveled to the United States with his wife, Michelle, and they enjoyed a couple of weeks of sight-seeing in Arkansas and Missouri, and visiting a friend in Shreveport, La.
"It's been good. I've loved it," Michelle said about visiting the U.S.
When Samuel Bounds of West Virginia took the stage on Day 2, Jon Stewart mentioned the fact that Bounds is a pastor.
"I'm glad I get to be a part of something as great as fishing," said Bounds, "but even more, I'm glad to be a part of something even bigger than all this." He then pointed up toward the heavens.
A couple of people in the crowd yelled, "Amen!"
And then, just like that, the heavens opened up. It started pouring.
All the people in the crowd scrambled for cover, trying to find anything to keep their faces and cameras and clothes dry.
"Where are y'all going?" said Bounds with a laugh. "I was going to preach!"
Larry Triplett wore candy on his arm up to the stage on Day 1 of the championship. The quick backstory is that his wife, Audrey McKenney, thoroughly enjoyed this line in the contenders gallery:
"Larry Triplett of Colorado may be the husband of the Colorado B.A.S.S. Nation president, Audrey McKenney, but he's not just arm candy. Triplett has been at this fishing thing for a while now, and this is his second trip to the championship."
So, McKenney put a "sleeve" of candy on Triplett to wear up on stage while he weighed in.
Hank Weldon, weighmaster of the event, had been standing up on stage for a while, and those Baby Ruths looked pretty good. He stripped the candy off Triplett, immediately ate one of the candy bars before Triplett even knew what was happening, and then threw other bars to fans in the crowd.
"I was hungry," said Weldon later.
On Day 2, a couple of anglers brought candy on stage for Weldon. Who knows? We might see even more today during the final weigh-in!
Yesterday, B.A.S.S. Nation Editor Tyler Wade wrote about how, more than anything, the love of family is evident here at the BNC.
You just have to attend the weigh-in to see what we mean — lots of little ones cheering on their fathers in what could result in a berth at the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. Even if they're too young to really "get it," they can still sense what a big deal it is.
One pint-size fan is Samantha Hansen — daughter of Sally and Davick Hansen of Utah. Every day she makes a colorful, high-tech "sign" on her tablet using an app called Kids Doodle, she excitedly explained to me during Friday's weigh-in.
Her tiny fingers flew around the touch screen, showing me how you can choose different colors and patterns. I asked her what she likes to draw most, and the 8-year-old of course answered, "Signs for my dad."
No doubt those are the best signs he's ever seen.
"The hippos can be a problem" was an actual line used on the weigh-in stage yesterday.
Kieron Samkin was explaining how fishing at his home in South Africa is different than fishing the Ouachita River.
"Do you have lions and elephants wandering around your lakes?" asked Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director.
"No, not really lions and elephants, but the hippos can be a problem," replied Samkin, like it was no big deal. He mentioned something about tossing a crankbait toward a hippo once, but it seemed more like he only said that to get Stewart's reaction.
"If a hippo's in the lake, you better get outta there," Samkin added.
Other than that, everything over there is pretty normal, sounds like. Except for the leopards that roam the neighborhoods.
The rain is heavy and not conducive to camera gear, but we're trying!
We found Brent Shores earlier this morning, and he had already caught a few, but was looking to move to a drainage tube that's spilling water into the River. Often times rain runoff will attract fish, and I'd bet Shores is correct in that assumption!
Of course the first day I get out on the water here at the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, it has to be pouring rain. Despite my coworker's warnings, however, I was adamant about experiencing the Ouachita River first-hand. I mean, how often do you get to see bass fishing on the bayou? Not very often for me!
Well, I headed out with Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket champ Brett Preuett — soon to be an Elite Series pro — and B.A.S.S. Senior Editor Thomas Allen, and although it was already coming down hard, I was ready.
What wasn't ready? My gear. Or the lack thereof. Rain jacket and rain boots? Check. Rain pants? Not so much. Jeans sure do soak up water.
Next time, I'll be better prepared!
At takeoff this morning, and every morning, Kazuo Tamakoshi, the Japan B.A.S.S. Nation president, has watched BNC qualifier Kentaro Yamada head out to fish the Ouachita River. By his side is Nobuyuki Terajima, Yamada's translator and another member of the Japanese Nation.
While they watch from the banks here in Louisiana, both men said friends and family at home are happy to tune into the live streaming weigh-ins on Bassmaster.com to support Yamada. "The fishing is totally different in Japan," Tamakoshi said, explaining that they mainly fish reservoirs at home, and only a few rivers.
It's fascinating to hear what bass fishing is like in so many other countries around the world, and then have them all compete here together at the Nation Championship.