Jared Miller is hoping that when he graduates from college in December, he already will have his dream job lined up: Bassmaster Elite Series pro.
"Fishing professionally at that level has been my dream since I was a little kid," said the 26-year-old from Oklahoma, who is in his first season in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open Series. Going into next week's Open finale on Lake Texoma, he is 9th in the points standings.
He'll need to pop up two places to receive one of the automatic invites BASS extends to the top seven. His degree in advertising and marketing from Oklahoma's Northeastern State University would not go to waste. He said he can use what he's learning in college to market himself to potential backers, manage his finances and to advertise himself to fans and sponsors.
When Miller decided to go to college, he wasn't thinking about acquiring marketing and advertising skills he needed to survive as a bass pro. His enrollment was a bow to his parents' wishes. "My parents wanted me go to school, and offered to pay for it," Miller said. "I wanted to fish right out of high school. They agreed that when I got close to graduating, I could try to make it fishing." His senior year in sight, he entered the three-event 2010 Central Open circuit.
Making time for both bass and books (as he has all his life), he finished 34th in the Open's first tournament in April on Texas' Lake Amistad. He did even better — 14th — in June when the Open stopped on the Red River in Louisiana. His first Bassmaster season is already laudable, especially considering that his competition experience had been limited to local and regional events in Oklahoma. He did well enough in those to finance his fishing and pay for part of his college.
For the Texoma event, Miller has experience on his side. He knows the lake very well. "I don't think of it as my home water, but because I grew up fishing it when I lived in Norman (Oklahoma) I feel I know the lake better than most other Open anglers do," he said. If Miller trips at Texoma, but falls no further than 12th in points, he might still have a chance this season at an Elite invitation. If a top-seven pro turns down an Elite invitation, BASS works down the list to 12th place to award the spot to another Open angler.
And if that doesn't happen, watch for Jared Miller next season in the Opens. He's not about to give up on landing his dream job. Fans can follow Miller and the other pros in the Oct. 21-23 season-ender by attending the weigh-ins at Lake Texoma's Highport Marine. Click here for attendance information. All events are free and open to the public.
Last weekend, experienced pros Randall Tharp and Andy Montgomery became rookies once again — Classic rookies, that is. Both earned their first Bassmaster Classic berths through the 2010 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Opens, which ended Saturday, Oct. 9, with the Lake Seminole event.
Tharp ended as No. 1 in points, and Montgomery was runner-up. Both won the same prize: a berth in the 2011 Classic, which is set for Feb. 18-20 on the Louisiana Delta out of New Orleans. Tharp's only other bid for a Classic berth was in 2008, when he won two of the Southern Open division's three events.
It was a performance that normally would have cornered a Classic berth. But because he did not compete in the season opener, he finished 14th in points that year. Since then, the pro from Gardendale, Ala., has made a name for himself in other major circuits. Montgomery, who lives in Blacksburg, S.C., first competed in a Bassmaster Open-level event in 2005. Like Tharp, Montgomery competed successfully in other circuits before he entered the 2010 Opens in hopes he would qualify for the 2011 Classic.
Two other Classic rookies qualified this year through an Open. The Northern division's Ryan Said of Michigan and Tracy Adams of North Carolina won their first Classic berths Sept. 18 when the Northern tour wrapped up. The final two Classic berths awarded through an Open will be determined at the Central Open's season finale, Oct. 21-23 on Lake Texoma.
Seven more for 2011 Elite Series
The latest recipients of treasured invitations to join the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series came last weekend through the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open.
Recipients were, in order by points standing, Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala.; Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C.; Elite pro Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla.; David Kilgore of Jasper, Ala.; Elite pro Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla.; Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Pa.; and Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn. Scroggins and Lane already qualified for 2011 through the 2010 Elite tour. The other pros are given ample time in which to decide to accept or decline the offer to play at the sport's highest level of competition.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was on hand at the dedication of a new "mega ramp" on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Ga., on Oct. 6, the day before the beginning of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open season finale. Ten of the big boat launching facilities are slated to be built on state waters through the governor's Go Fish Georgia program.
The intent is to attract more anglers and major events, such as Bassmaster tournaments. "This week we have ESPN and BASS here and we are going to show them true southern hospitality here in Bainbridge," Perdue said. The next time BASS will stop in Georgia will be May 5-8 for a 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series event, the Pride of Georgia on West Point Lake out of LaGrange.
In observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bassmaster Elite Series pro J Todd Tucker wore a pink tournament jersey when he competed in last week's Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open. The Georgia pro's pink shirt was much like his regular "Big Green Egg" jersey; only the background was pink. A BASS photographer captured Tucker in full pink at the tanks.