LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Around 200 fans showed up Sunday morning at the Alltell boat ramp to watch the final six anglers take off in the last day of the Bassmasters Legends, but one head stuck out below the rest.
Kneeling on a sidewalk beside the ramp wearing a bright orange hat was 10-year-old Houston Wade.
Wade's mother, Kelly, stood behind him and they watched as the anglers lined up their boats and prepared to send them off the ramp and into the water.
"He just loves fishing," Kelly Wade said of her son. "He's been trying to get me to come out here for three days, but this is the first time we could make it out."
Houston didn't even notice his mother was talking; he was too interested in the guys on the boats.
The Wades, who live in North Little Rock, 20 minutes from the ramp, were up at 5 a.m., fueling up on cinnamon biscuits and adrenaline, ready for the day that was ahead of them. But it's lucky they even made it to the ramp.
"I had no idea how to get here," Kelly Wade said. "We just started heading this direction, and this guy pulled out in front of us, and he had Ranger Boats on the back of truck. I just put my faith in that and followed him all the way here."
Once Houston noticed his mom was talking fishing, he jumped right in. He told stories of the biggest fish he had ever caught, and said he was wearing that same orange hat when he shot his first deer.
"I like catching a big bass and getting that adrenaline flowing," Houston said. "I don't like people out there talking or fishing on top of me."
But this morning, he was only watching. He made his way through the six boats waiting on the ramp, looking for autographs or any conversation about fishing. His first stop was at the side of Greg Hackney, but Houston seemed more enamored by the rods and reels than he did the angler.
"I got $100 saved up, and the first thing I bought with it was a $40 spin cast reel," Houston said with pride.
For Houston and almost all of the fans who got up before dawn to see the anglers off, they were there for one simple reason.
"I'm just eat up with it," said Billy Baswell, 37, who came with his father Bill, 68, and his son Jaden, 10. "I've been up every morning to come and watch these guys. These guys are my idols."
As for what he wanted to see Sunday morning, Baswell answered that one quickly.
"I want to see Swindle finally win a tournament," he said. "No, we just come out to meet the guys see them take off."
For his son Jaden, the trip had more in store than just sights and memories.
"I got almost everyone's autograph, see?" he said as he proudly lifted an ink covered hat to the sky.
As for grandpa, he seemed more interested in the people he was with than the people on the water.
"Three generations of bass fishers here," Bill Baswell said with a smile.
There were no great quotes or unique moments from any of the anglers Sunday morning, it was all pretty standard. The guys just sat around, fielded questions, fired up their engines and took off for their shot at $250,000.
But the looks on the fan's faces told the story as they walked back to their cars for the drive home. No one left unsatisfied. They had all seen what they had come to witness: a bunch of guys who are living out the dream of bass fishing.
"I definitely want to do this when I grow up," Houston Wade said. "There's no doubt."