DEL RIO, Texas — Britt Myers would rather have been bass fishing. Instead, he got bit hard by the idle time created Thursday when BASS officials cancelled the first day of the Bassmaster Elites Series Battle on the Border, presented by Mahindra Tractors. That's "bit" as in "snake bit."
The old adage states: An idle mind is the devil's workshop. If that's so, and Thursday would prove there's every reason to believe it is, Byron Velvick's Lake Amistad Resort is the devil's factory. Velvick's place has 40 rooms, and 30 of them were filled with Elite Series pros' idle minds.
It was in this atmosphere that an elaborate snake bite was set up for Myers, a 33-year-old angler from Lake Wylie, S.C. Myers is known as the electronics and auto accessory specialist on the tour. Whether it's boat sonar equipment or stereo systems or auto suspensions and wheels, Myers is the man. He owns CS Motorsports and Audio Excellence located 15 miles south of Charlotte, N.C
He was minding his own business Thursday, helping Kevin VanDam accessorize his truck, when he got a cell phone call from fellow pro Grant Goldbeck, inquiring about when he was coming back to Lake Amistad Resort. Goldbeck told Myers that the ESPNOutdoors.com staff was at the resort, interviewing anglers. He said that since Myers was in 24th place in the Toyota Tundra Anger of the Year standings, the news crew wanted to talk to him. Plus, Goldbeck told him, it would be a great opportunity to take care of his sponsors, getting them some publicity on ESPNOutdoors.com.
Goldbeck hung up his cell phone and flashed a smile to the news crew.
"He said he'd be here in 20 minutes," he laughed.
Goldbeck had been the first victim of the rubber snake that Wade Grooms had brought to Texas with him. It had scared Goldbeck that morning, when he spotted it as he stepped out of his room, where Grooms had strategically placed it.
With idle time, the idle minds of Grooms, Goldbeck, Jeff Conella, Billy Brewer and Rick Ash went to work. They decided to rig up the snake where it would lift right into Myers' face when he raised the lid of the center storage locker on his front boat deck.
Conella first said that he didn't want to have anything to do with the practical joke. But as he saw the snake being rigged, he stepped in immediately with the suggestion to use monofilament line, so the snake would appear to be rising under its own power toward Myers' face when he peered into the storage locker.
"Britt plays pranks on me all day long," Goldbeck said, in justifying the mischief. "He's always the one standing behind the door saying, 'Boo!'"
Even with the earlier prompting, it took Goldbeck one more cell phone call to get Myers headed in the right direction.
"He'll be here in five minutes!" Goldbeck said as he assumed the position of showing the news crew his latest A.B.T. Wagtail swimbaits.
But it was Brewer, the former Major League Baseball pitcher and now rookie on the Elite Series tour, who put the icing on the cake. As Myers got out of his truck and started walking toward his boat, Brewer intercepted him and whispered something in his ear. Myers detoured and went to his room.
"I told him to put his jersey on," whispered Brewer to the audience assembled near Myers' boat.
That's the jersey the Elite Series pros wear that features all their sponsors' logos.
It was almost like Myers was a 10-pound bass sitting on a spawning bed. Sometimes it takes hours to get one of those big spawners to bite. And five Elite Series pros had worked for over an hour on Myers.
"Man, I've been waiting all morning for some of those drop shot weights," Goldbeck said to Myers as he got in his boat. "If you'll give me a pack, I'll leave you alone and let you talk to these guys."
Myers didn't have a chance to notice that photographers Larry Towell and James Overstreet had positioned themselves on opposite sides of his boat. There would be no missing this shot.
Adding to the effect, Goldbeck and company had turned on the alarm that signals unauthorized entry into the storage box. So when Myers reached in, the alarm sounded and the snake rose with the storage box lid, just as planned, right into Myers' face.
It took a second for Myers to react, but the startled jump back and then the look of shock on his face made the long wait worth every minute.
When all the heehawing stopped, the ESPNOutdoors.com crew told Myers thanks for the entertainment and left.
One can assume that the prankster in Myers has already begun thinking some sweet revenge. But getting even for this one is going to take some creativity.
Other Elite Series pros got bit in the wallet Thursday morning. A stop at Amistad Marine found Jimmy Mize and Brian Clark doing some lure shopping.
"This is just my first pass," said Mize, who was holding two $10 swimbaits he'd just purchased.
Mize suggested that the folks at Amistad Marine had paid BASS tournament director Trip Weldon $100 to cancel Thursday's competition on Lake Amistad, knowing the pros couldn't help put drop a few dollars into the local economy.
"Yeah, he was easy," laughed the woman working the cash register at Amistad Marine.
"I'm just blowing off time," Clark said, "buying baits I don't need, spending money."
But Clark had taken the time to think about how three days on the lake, instead of four, might affect the outcome of this tournament.
"I think guys that have found some bedding fish might have an advantage," Clark said. "Real good bed fishermen are going to have an advantage they didn't have in a four-day tournament.
"A prime example was that last tournament in Florida."
Clark's example was right on the money. It was at Florida's Kissimmee Chain where Velvick and Kelly Jordon sacked big bags of spawning bass the first two days of the event and moved to the top of the leaderboard. But they fell back, finishing 15th and ninth, respectively, as the bedding fish failed to hold up for four days.
And that just might have been the only constructive thought produced in the idle minds of the Elite Series pros Thursday. It's time to close the devil's workshop, weather permitting, and get these guys on the water, where they belong.