DECATUR, Ala. — Last night, Linda Comperatore updated her Facebook status with “Let’s Go Places … I’m thinking about making this my new motto!”
Comperatore was referring to the Toyota slogan that’s on some of the goodies she’s received as part of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Owners Tournament this weekend on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala.
She and her husband, Jerry, just retired in June, and the pair has been traveling the country, visiting family and fishing — for fun and in tournaments.
Linda has accompanied her husband to bass tournaments for decades, but tomorrow, she’s fishing in one for the first time.
“I really hope I get to weigh a fish in on the stage tomorrow,” said Linda. “We got here Tuesday, and we’ve just enjoyed every day.”
The Comperatores traveled 700 miles from their home in Tarentum, Pa., to Decatur. And the traveling duo is loving retirement. “We really do just love going places,” said Linda.
Two other retirees have been fishing together for decades, too, and are also partners in this weekend’s Toyota Bonus Bucks Owners Tournament. Rollin Willmon of Florida and Dennis Stodgehill of Georgia grew up catfishing in the Savannah River, and now, the longtime buddies look for opportunities to take to the water with each other.
“I’m retired, so I can just run around and go fishing,” said Willmon, laughing.
But not everyone fishing the Toyota Bonus Bucks Owners Tournament is retired. At the other end of the spectrum is Marty Ballard and Trevor Howard, members of the University of Kentucky fishing team.
Ballard, 26, and Howard, 19, fished the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series last year and are looking forward to tomorrow’s one-day event on Wheeler.
“We’re going to give it our best,” said Ballard. “We have one good spot we know we can get a limit on.”
“We might have to slow down a little,” said Howard.
They’re here to help make a name for their school’s bass fishing club. “Marketing this sport to younger kids is the way to go,” Ballard continued. “It just going to grow, and getting kids to fish is better for everybody.”
Will Wheeler’s fish fall for a retired married couple, old friends or college fishing buddies? We’ll all find out tomorrow. Launch at Decatur’s Ingalls Harbor begins at 6:30 a.m. CT. Weigh-in begins at 2 p.m. Keep up on Bassmaster.com, on Twitter with hashtag #bigcatch, or on B.A.S.S.’s Facebook event page.