This is the so-called off-season for Gutierrez, a Bassmaster Elite Series angler and two-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier who fishes tournaments only on his vacation time.
Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga promises to be a puzzle for many of the 55 amateur anglers in the Nov. 8-10 BASS Federation Nation Championship out of Kissimmee, Fla.
B.A.S.S. Federation Nation 2007 Qualifiers
Read how Professional angler Mark Davis who enjoyed a distinguished career with BASS before leaving the circuit in 2006 to fish the FLW Tour, has a decsion to make.
"The ledge was the only place I got quality fish, so I bent the hook on my jig and made one pass and I had 11 bites on one pass on that bluff. That's where I stayed."
Once College Bass officials learned of Sherbert's situation, they ruled he could fish alone. His partner in the boat at for Day One became an ESPNOutdoors.com writer on assignment to observe him and write about the experience.
"It's wonderful. Points winner is a great title to have on my resume — and I'm going to the Classic, a lifetime dream," said the 43-year-old Hartley, a veteran Elite pro who's been competing in BASS events since 1996.
In addition to the slower current in the river, another tournament also being held on the river had attracted much more fishing traffic, especially in key locations.
Before the takeoff on Saturday morning, ESPNOutdoors.com and CollegeBass.com chased down the final five and asked them one question: What would it mean for you to win the national championship today?
They brought the latest in tackle, more than enough rods and reels and sported matching Hawkeye fishing jerseys. But the problem was they didn't have a boat.