SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. — When two-time Bassmaster Classic champion Hank Parker is your casting coach, you know you've arrived in the fishing world. That was the situation for Jerry Brandon, 36, of Haughton, La., as he was selected to participate in the Berkley Havoc Cast for Cash contest in the arena at the Bassmaster Classic.
Brandon's challenge was imposing. Put a casting plug in a target that measures a foot in diameter from about 60 feet while thousands of fans cheer, camera flashes fire and thoughts of big bucks dance through his head. Succeed and he'd earn $100,000.
As daunting as the challenge might seem, the people at Berkley wanted to give Brandon every chance to succeed. Immediately after he was selected, Brandon was taken backstage where he met 1979 and 1989 Bassmaster Classic champion and 1983 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Hank Parker. The two went outside for a little casting practice in preparation of Brandon's chance for the big bucks.
He proved to be adept at baitcasting and was quickly making 60-foot pitches to targets in the parking lot, once dropping the casting plug directly into Parker's upturned cap.
With the pressure on, though, Brandon's attempt at the $100,000 fell short. Parker then offered him another try for a prize of $25,000, but he missed again — this time coming much closer.
He didn't walk away empty-handed, though. Berkley gave him $5,000 for the experience plus of a trio of rod and reel combos and a supply of Berkley Havoc baits.