2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship Ouachita River - Monroe, LA, Nov 3 - 5, 2011

From near and far, they came for their championship

sunrise during a morning launch
James Overstreet

Craig Denham builds cabinets. Carlo Alberto-Tenchini is a marketing director. Jamie Hartman drives a truck. Jeff Jones is a plumbing contractor. Takuya Wakebe works in an office. Darren Thornton is an importer.

All told, they number 54. They’ve come from 47 U.S. states and six other countries: Italy (Alberto-Tenchini); Japan (Wakebe); Canada (Denham); and Mexico, South Africa, and Zimbabwe (Thornton). Some have money enough, some do not, some are highly skilled craftsmen, some just hold down jobs that allow them the time to fish often. Some are graying; some are students, still learning.

As different from each other as any 54 people randomly tapped from the general population, they have at least this in common: They love to chase bass, and they’re in Monroe, La., this week representing their state, their B.A.S.S. club and the buddies they beat at home to get to the world championship of amateur bass anglers.

This is the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship. Some of the anglers here have worked for more than a year, tournament after tournament, to get a shot at the champ’s trophy.

Competition on the Ouachita River — tough, tough and tougher fishing, say those who scouted — will bond these strangers. Some perhaps met for the first time at the launch ramps Tuesday as they put their boats into the water for the first day of official practice. A few might have met in town weeks ago before the official off-limits period began. By the Nov. 5 finale, several will be fast friends.

In the end, six will stand out. Only the winners in each of six regional divisions will advance to the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.

The public is invited to watch the unique event, called the BFNC for short, Thursday-Saturday on site in Monroe or at Bassmaster.com beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. Free streaming video and real-time leaderboards will be online each day. A free, downloadable scorecard is also available.

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