LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Michael and Stephen Frenette thought it was hot when they left their New Orleans home last Friday at noon. After five days of practicing here for the inaugural Mercury College B.A.S.S. National Championship, they’ve got a new perspective.
“Honestly, I think it’s hotter here,” Michael said. “At least we had a breeze in New Orleans.”
But neither of the brothers is complaining. The winner of this four-day event will earn a berth in the Bassmaster Classic.
“Just being here right now is a dream come true,” Stephen said.
As the only brother team in this event, the Frenettes will face an unusual set of circumstances if their team, representing Southeastern Louisiana University, qualifies for Sunday’s final. The Mercury College B.A.S.S. National Championship begins as a team tournament. There are 36 teams representing colleges and universities from various parts of the U.S. qualified for this event.
Thursday they will compete on the Arkansas River. Then the tournament moves to Lake Maumelle on Friday. Each team’s two-day weights will be totaled to determine the top five teams that will advance to Saturday’s semifinals, which will be held on a nearby “mystery lake” – an as yet unnamed body of water where no team has had a chance to practice. The teams will start at zero weight Saturday, when the National Championship team will be determined at a 3 p.m. weigh-in.
If the Southeastern Louisiana team wins the title, the Frenette brothers would then fish against each other on Sunday at another unnamed body of water to determine the Bassmaster Classic qualifier.
“If we are fishing on the last day, it will be just like it has been since we were two years old,” Michael said. “It would be like bringing us back to what we’ve always done, competed against each other.”
But there will be three days of working together as a team before that one-on-one scenario sets up. Bass fishing has been tough on both the Arkansas River and Lake Maumelle during practice. Each team is trying to catch the heaviest five-bass limit each day. If the Frenettes’ practice time is any indication, they’d settle for five keepers each day, any five keepers.
“We haven’t done it yet,” Michael said of their practice days. “It’s going to be a struggle. You might have to make a thousand casts a day for five keepers.”
“It’s anybody’s game at this point,” Stephen said.
The Frenette brothers developed their love of fishing naturally. Their father, Capt. Mike Frenette, owns the Redfish Lodge of Louisiana in Venice. Michael, 21, will be a junior at Southeastern Louisiana this fall. He is majoring in business marketing. Stephen, 19, will be a sophomore majoring in physical therapy. They are both licensed guides and boat captains. And both are candidates to continue their family’s fishing business.
“We’re looking at that, but we know the importance of getting our education,” Michael said. “You could say we’ve got a backup plan, if we need it.”