Church relationships led them instead Fort Mill, S.C. and Lake Wylie. They’ve been there ever since. Once settled, Malucelli lived his next dream: to fish a B.A.S.S. tournament. It was a memorable experience in 2008 at the Elite Series event held on Falcon Lake, Texas.
His Day One partner was Rick Clunn.
“I jumped into the boat and I hugged him,” recalled Malucelli. “He never understood why because my English wasn’t as good as now. For me, it was a dream. I watched him in 1985 and later on The Bassmasters.”
The next day he was paired with Shaw Grigsby, another hero.
“From that point on, I understood why this sport is so good here,” he continued. “You have such a great level of anglers that are also great people. They have the patience and elegance to know how to teach you the sport.”
The new unofficial B.A.S.S. ambassador from Brazil had this to say when interviewed at the second Northern Open of 2012 in Detroit.
“I don’t understand why there are not 1,000 people standing in line to be co-anglers in B.A.S.S. This is the best experience ever. Like today, I had a local angler and we caught fish all day long. I learned a lot from him and made a new friend. It’s unbeatable.”
Malucelli, now 45, said The Bassmasters TV series continues to be a vital connection to the growing contingent of bass anglers in Brazil. Bass clubs are organizing. A national championship attracts upwards of 200 anglers. The Brazilian economy is booming, and the anglers want the same lures as their American counterparts.
“The Bassmasters show changed the course of bass fishing for us in Brazil,” he said. There’s a blue peacock bass that is very similar to the largemouth. Before, we only thought it was a summertime fish to be caught on topwater. Then we saw American pros catching largemouth with deep crankbaits and big jigs in deep water. So we did that, too. And now we can catch the blue peacock year-round.”
The American techniques have also brought shallow water success to the Brazilians.
“Before all we knew was topwater fishing for the largemouth and peacock bass,” he said. “But now guys are flipping and pitching, using the same techniques they see on the TV show.”
Conservation and catch-and-release are also catching on.
“B.A.S.S. as an organization is very important for us,” he said. “That is because you showed us a different side of fishing. Fishing in Brazil has always been about going out, catching something and bringing it to the table. And what we learned from B.A.S.S. was catch and release, the sporting side and the conservation side.”
Bass fishing in Brazil is where it was in the United States back in the 1980s, when The Bassmasters became a TV hit. Coincidentally, a new TV network just launched to feed the insatiable desire for knowledge by Brazilian bass anglers.
“It’s called FishTV and will be on 24 hours a day,” said Malucelli. “It will help us promote the sport, the catch-and-release, and make bass fishing just as great in our country.”
“We are so grateful to what B.A.S.S. has done for us and what the future might bring for anglers like me.”