BUFFALO — At all but two Bassmaster Elite Series events during the 2008 season, a professional angler has lurked among the co-angler ranks. He's even been featured on magazine covers. This year, he took home money at eight of nine tournaments in which he's competed. At the Empire Chase presented by Farmer's Insurance, he finished in second out of 100-plus co-anglers.And unless you've from Brazil, you've probably never heard of the guy.His name is Marcos Malucelli. A job as a technical consultant for a tackle company brought him from South America to South Carolina two years ago and, prior to the transfer, the dark-haired man spent years fishing professionally in the Brazilian equivalent of the Elite Series."I've fished — forever," he said, before laughing at himself. More different in scale and format than the Elite Series, Malucelli described his former circuit with a bright smile that never disappeared from his face.
"We have three nationals (tournaments) where we fish for many different species of fish," he said, using his hands when needed to underline key points. "We catch peacock bass, largemouth bass and other Brazilian fish."Brazilian anglers compete in a total of five tournaments over the course of their season.Malucelli garnered quite the following in Brazil after earning the respect of fellow professionals and the occasional fan. And he brought the proof to Buffalo."I made the cover of a Brazilian fishing magazine," he said, after Day Two of the Empire Chase. "I will bring it tomorrow."
True to his word, Malucelli proudly showed the Brazilian periodical to the ESPNOutdoors.com crew like a child bringing home an A+ report card. While co-angler Tom Frink and Elite Series pro Jason Quinn watched, the animated co-angler was still beaming from his second-place finish hours earlier.Same game, different rulesLanding in Fort Mill, a suburb of Charlotte and just inside the Palmetto State's border, the 41-year-old eagerly began absorbing American culture, learning English and allowing time to get to know the various lakes around his new home.I didn't learn English in Brazil, I learned it here," he said with a Brazilian Portuguese accent.While friends and work colleagues helped immerse Malucelli in the language, the angler's own determination to become proficient pushed him to gain a command more rapidly and extensively than most newcomers. (He only asked for help with one vocabulary word during a 10-minute interview with ESPNOutdoors.com.)As for Malucelli's fishing education, it spiked substantially after meeting two special anglers.
"I met Todd (Auten) in a tournament and we had a lot of fun" Malucelli said. "I was his co-angler and he's from South Carolina, too."After the tournament, Auten, who lives down the road on nearby Lake Wylie, volunteered to help get Malucelli up to speed on American fishing techniques. Between Elite Series events when both anglers were home, school was in session.During that time, the Brazilian native was also introduced to fellow South Carolinian Jason Quinn.
"We all became great friends and I learned so much from those guys," Malucelli said about Auten and Quinn. In fact Quinn and Malucelli will continue to travel together for the remainder of the season.With the exception of two weeks, Malucelli has been on the water with an Elite Series pro since the season began. Before taking second-place on Lake Erie, his best performance had been a sixth-place finish at Texas' Lake Amistad."I missed two (tournaments) because of my new baby," he said, shrugging and joking like he needed an excuse. "But she's 3 months old now, and she's great."With co-anglers going away in 2009, the Brazilian hopes to fish the Opens and admitted to feeling grateful for the opportunity to fish with Elite Series pros over the past months."All of this has been a blessing in my life," Malucelli said. "I've always been in the fishing industry and have always had a dream to fish in America with the Bassmasters."" Now, I've done it!"
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Empire Chase with weigh-in host Keith Alan, July 31-Aug. 3, 2008. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 5:00 p.m. ET. On Saturday, catch "Bassmaster University" at 4:15 p.m. ET before the weigh-in. Then on Sunday, get "Hooked Up" with hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona at 1 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. ET, with the final day weigh-in and real-time leaderboard content starting at 5:00 p.m. ET.