BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mark Zacher has a morning ritual. Before he goes to work in Rapid City, S.D., he sits down at the computer every day and logs on to Bassmaster.com. That time online paid off with his win of the Bassmaster.com “Fish with Ike” Sweepstakes that ended March 15.
“I think I entered every day,” Zacher said. “If I missed one day, it was just one. I always enter the contests [on Bassmaster.com]. I’m a big supporter of B.A.S.S., and I think they do a wonderful job, but I never expected to win, nor have I ever won anything like this.
“You can imagine how shocked I was when I got the call that I won. I hung up and called back half an hour later. I asked, ‘Is this for real?’ I couldn’t believe it. It’s still a shocker.”
Zacher’s prize is a fishing trip with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Michael Iaconelli, part of a package of prizes, including cash, gear and gifts that adds up to almost $5,000. He will fish with the high-profile New Jersey pro on the Monday after the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis., June 20-23.
“Mike is one of my favorite pros,” Zacher said. “Of the five I really like, he’s one of them. I’ve read up on him and know what his strengths are. I feel like I’m a versatile fisherman, and I hope I can hang with him. I want to show up and get out there and fish and have a great time.”
Always an avid angler, Zacher got serious about bass fishing around 1989 and began fishing at the Bassmaster club level. He won both Rookie of the Year and Angler of the Year his first year, an affirmation that encouraged him to continue the sport.
“I wanted to do more bass fishing when I was younger, but I was raising a family and focused on that,” said Zacher, who competes at the B.A.S.S. Nation and Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens levels, often with his close friend Monty Fralick, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jami Fralick’s father.
Zacher, who works in the parts department of a freightliner dealership in Rapid City, has a busy June ahead. The first week, he’ll fish a state tournament; the third week, he fishes with Iaconelli; and the last week, he celebrates his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife, Verlene.
Zacher’s father, Francis, has been an important influence in his bass fishing.
“He inspired me when I started doing tournaments,” Zacher said. “He’s a big bass fisherman, and he gave me confidence. Those are special moments when we fish together.”
In addition to a fishing trip with Iaconelli, which includes airfare, a rental car and a two-night hotel stay, Zacher won $500 in spending money, $900 in gear from Berkley and Abu Garcia, $500 in gear from Rapala and a chance to attend The Bass University.
“This has been very exciting for me,” Zacher said. “I’ve never been able to fish at a professional level, but winning this trip is like winning the Bassmaster Classic. It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s a dream come true.”
Beginning April 1, a new Bassmaster.com Sweepstakes began for a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to “Fish With Skeet!” on a fishery to be chosen by Elite Series pro Skeet Reese of California. The contest, which can be entered here or through mail-in entries, runs April 1 through June 12, and the winner will be selected on June 30.