MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A typical day of B.A.S.S. tournament competition for a TowBoatU.S. crew begins with leading the boats from the harbor at the official takeoff. The remainder of the day is spent waiting for calls seeking assistance for their services.
The phone and radio remain silent most of the time. The Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central No. 2 on the Arkansas River was different.
Tom Benton, co-owner of TowBoatU.S.—Grand Lake, was there to provide support and assistance to the Open anglers. They needed it and more than usual. Benton and crewmate Jim Frazier responded to five requests for assistance in just the first two days of the competition.
The first call came just 30 minutes after the tournament began on Day One. Oklahoma angler Brian Potter needed a tow back to the takeoff site for repairs to his boat. TowBoatU.S. responded and the service crews made the necessary repairs to get him back on the water.
Not long afterwards the crew responded to a similar request by Canadian pro Mohawk Martin. His boat was also towed back to the launch ramp for service. The third call came in midday from Texas pro Trever Romans. His situation was more complicated.
Romans was at Webbers Falls Lock and Dam, 25 miles away from the takeoff site at Three Forks Harbor.
“He was running out of time and we weren’t sure we could tow him back to make his weigh-in,” recalled Benton.
Romans and his partner transferred their catches to the boat of Arizona pro Mark Tyler and made it to the weigh-in on time. As it turned out, so did Romans’ boat.
“I tied it to a marker buoy in the middle of the channel and those guys came all the way up there and towed it back for me,” said Romans.
To his surprise, Romans watched his boat pull into the harbor with time remaining.
“We made it up there and had the boat towed back about five minutes before he actually needed to be in,” added Benton.
It’s all in a day’s work for Benton.
“They are a great bunch of guys,” he said. “We try and make the best of their time schedules as best we can, because we know they are fishing against the clock.”
The towing services are part of membership in BoatU.S. Angler. Unlimited towing in more than 300 sanctioned tournaments is available for an annual membership of $67. For Romans, Potter and Martin it was money and time well spent.