To me, the most special thing about the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship is the love and support of family that you can actually feel when you're on-site. That sounds a little hokey. But it's true! And if you can't feel it, you can at least hear it and see it.
I love the pure joy of the anglers' wives, parents, kids and families when they're here. I've been to a ton of weigh-ins, but at the Nation Championship, year after year, I watch these families come in from all over the world (not an exaggeration), take a week off work, take the kids out of school, bring flags from their home state or country, draw posterboard signs for their anglers, and yell like maniacs while they're trying to get just the perfect shot of their loved ones on stage.
And the competitors really appreciate it. Jack Barber of the PVA was tearful on stage when talking about his wife today and the support she gives him. Jamie Laiche, Day 1 leader, said there's just no way he could do what he does without his wife's help. And Marcelo Lozano, who brought seven friends from Mexico plus his wife and kids, thanked them each individually on stage. And that's just a few of the anglers who mentioned their families today.
If you still have any doubt about the love in the B.A.S.S. Nation family, read Don Barone's article about Brian Croteau, whose dad died last summer and never got to see his son compete in the championship.
For these anglers, this moment may be the pinnacle of their entire bass fishing careers. And their families wouldn't miss this moment for the world.
Italy's B.A.S.S. Nation representative Samuele Ferroni has three, and is confident in finding enough to fill a limit.
He's a long ways from home, but it's cool to see his enthusiasm and success on a foreign body of water. He's catchin' 'em!
Jack Barber, Texas native and PVA Angler of the Year (Paralyzed Veterans of America) has two decent fish and is looking to fill a limit after just getting a pattern figured out. This guy is an inspiration!
A 2-pound fish is a good one out of the Ouachita River. South African B.A.S.S. Nation representative Kieron Samkin stuck a good fish just as we pulled up. The largemouth put him two fish away from a limit. He was pretty excited.
I couldn't help but admire the beauty of the bayou this time of year: Colorful leaves floating along side the cypress stumps, the smell of swamp water mixed with two-stroke exhaust is a welcome combination.
We are headed into Horseshoe, which is where Paul Mueller won this event last year. It requires about 15 minutes of idling through stumps and trying to avoid getting high-centered on a stump. But it's awesome back in here.
Delaware's Fabian Rodriguez has five fish, and three he claimed were pretty good. He paused for a quick discussion and quickly left for the next spot.