Three big inspirations

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Andy Crawford

“Big Bass. Big Stage. Big Dreams. That’s what the Elite Series represents to not only these pros, but to any angler ...”

Drew Cook took a shot to the face with a bullet. Well, it was a bullet weight, 1 1/4 ounces, attached to his punch rig. He had set the hook on a bass while practicing for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Eastern Open on Florida’s Kissimmee Chain last year when the hook failed to connect to the fish biting, and slammed into his mouth. The blunt force trauma knocked out three teeth, including one front tooth, and shattered a section of his jawbone. When most people would have rushed to the dentist, Cook plowed through the pain (the nerve of his front tooth remained exposed), continued fishing and finished third in the event. He was chasing a dream of becoming an Elite Series pro, and no dental emergency was going to keep him from achieving it. Now, he is known as Bassmaster Elite Series pro Drew Cook.

Most Bassmaster fans are hearing Cook’s name for the first time here. But it most certainly will not be the last. Actually, there are a lot of new names on the Elite Series this year. Each of them has a story to tell. All of them are incredible anglers. Each of them shares the dream of making a mark on bass fishing.

Freshman Elite Series pro Quentin Cappo’s dream is to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic his first year on tour. Don’t bet against him. The Louisiana pro has already achieved a lot: He was a firefighter and currently owns a successful seafood restaurant, as well as a 24-hour fitness facility. But bass fishing is his passion and he qualified for the Elite Series in his first attempt through the Central Opens in 2018. The Bassmaster Classic is the world’s biggest stage, and his sole focus is to stand on it.

Elite Series rookie Mike Huff started fishing at the ripe old age of 4 with his grandfather Rex. He vividly remembers the day when he was reeling in a bluegill and a giant bass ate the sunfish before he could land it. After an epic battle on his Zebco 33, Huff grabbed the largemouth that would ignite his passion for bass fishing. This passion turned into a successful college career at Georgetown College in Kentucky, which eventually inspired his participation in the Bassmaster Eastern Opens, where he qualified for the Elite Series in 2018. It all started with one big bass.

Big Bass. Big Stage. Big Dreams. That’s what the Elite Series represents to not only these pros, but to any angler, young or old, wanting to follow their passion on the water.

So, it seems appropriate that B.A.S.S. recently unveiled this as the new tagline for the Elite Series. The 2019 class of Elite anglers should be an inspiration through all three legs of this statement. The rookies will be joined by the likes of Rick Clunn, Jay Yelas and David Fritts, who each reached the biggest stage of bass fishing and fulfilled lifelong dreams of winning the Bassmaster Classic. Big bass specialists Keith Combs, Steve Kennedy and Seth Feider will get to showcase their skills on fisheries known for giant bass, like Lake Fork, Lake Guntersville and the St. Lawrence River. And of course the incredible rookie class, including Cook, Cappo and Huff, will have the opportunity to live their dreams, fishing against the best anglers on the planet, looking to make their mark on the sport we love.

With a little luck, that mark will not require a major dental procedure when the competition is over.