Bassmaster.com has asked our team of writers and staff to reflect on their favorite moment of 2016. Read some of the longer thoughts here: Chris Bowes | Andrew Canulette | Alan McGuckin | Tyler Wade McCollum | Pete Robbins | Don Barone | Chris Mitchell | Tommy Sanders | Ronnie Moore | Rob Newell | Bryan Brasher | Mike Suchan | Jim Sexton | Steve Wright
Editor, Bassmaster Magazine
My favorite moment of the 2016 season happened off the water. It happened while a guy was sitting in his boat, hands pressed to his face to keep hidden the trembling of his lips and the tears in his eyes. He didn't want his fellow competitors standing a few feet away to see the emotion, although it was impossible to hide. He didn't want the throng of fans watching the final weigh-in of the Toyota Angler of the Year Championship to see a grown man blubbering. But as Gerald Swindle tried his best to keep his composure, and failed, I saw what a year's worth of hard work and determination can bring a man. The trophy he'd eventually hold and the big check he received for earning the AOY crown was simply icing on the cake. What Swindle received that day was confirmation that he was the best in the world at a sport he dedicated his life to perfecting. His hands could not hide what that meant to him, and I was glad for it.
Mine is kind of easy. Of course the obvious one is Rick [Clunn winning on St. Johns River]. I remember calling Rick and talking to him before that last day and we had a great conversation. But like I said, that’s easy. So I’ll give you another one.
The other one is Charlie Hartley winning an Open and making the Classic. To me that was a real thrill because I know what kind of a guy that Charlie is and how hard he works and how faithful he is to B.A.S.S. When he didn’t qualify for the Elites, he didn’t complain, he just said he was going back to work and going to get back in the Elites. Well, he didn’t quite get back to the Elites, but gosh, he made the Classic. It’s going to be really great to see him down in Houston.
Director, B.A.S.S. Nation
My favorite moment had to be Ryan Lavigne coming through the non-boater ranks to not only take home the first ever B.A.S.S. Nation non boater champion trophy, but to then turn around and win entire B.A.S.S. Nation Championship and take home the Bryan Kerchal Memorial trophy!
[Jon immediately sends another email]
Actually my true 2 favorite moments talking with these two kids and wearing these socks with another team at the Junior Championship…… so I guess I had three…. Or four. You just can’t beat the smiles at the Junior Championship. So I guess it would be the JR Championship ……then Ryan Lavigne!
Host, Bassmaster and Bassmaster LIVE
James Overstreet photo of rainbow over Seth Feider-- what does this mean?!!!!!!!!! Honestly, the pic is so incredible that I was speechless when I saw it, and I'm not speechless too often.
Freelance writer and photographer
Witnessing firsthand the childlike exuberance of Charlie Hartley just before he won the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open #2 on the James River. Charlie was the last of the Top 12 to weigh in. For Bassmaster.com I interviewed Charlie as he sat anxiously in his truck behind the weigh-in stage. He could hardly sit still. He won and made it back to the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. This was my 40th year of attending B.A.S.S. events and moments of excitement—and seeing good guys finish first—never gets old.
Vice President, Sales Development
My favorite moment of the year was posing this little scene on the last day of the Tulsa Classic. After months (and I DO mean months) of hard work getting ready for the Classic, it was really a treat to have a relaxing, fun moment with Bruce [Editor's Note: Bruce Akin is the CEO of B.A.S.S.] showing off our ninja skills with the Ninja Turtles. After all, doesn't fishing bring out the little kid in all of us?
Director, Event and Tourism Partnerships
My favorite moment was when Britt Myers was up on stage after winning the Georgetown tournament. He was thanking the city and the crowd and holding the trophy. I looked over to our host, Sel Hemmingway, and Sel was all choked up, wiping the tears from is eyes. He spent the past year or so putting the event together and as the county administrator and local native, it meant a lot to him to put on a successful event. It ended up being our biggest crowd of the year. More than just having a tournament and fulfilling the partnership agreement, we all made a friend in Sel. He is a great guy and we all look forward to working with him again.
Sales Development Director
The moment began with a serendipitous choice on Friday night of the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic when four of us from the B.A.S.S. marketing team sat down for dinner with 3 guys from Hobie. Jackie, the elder of the Hobie 3, charmed everyone that night. His jokes and impersonations had us crying with laughter one minute only to move us to tears the next as he spoke with obvious pride and deep affection for his wife Gerri, his children and grandchildren. He then said Teresa, our marketing director, reminded him so much of his wife that he was going to call her. And he did, passing the phone to Teresa so she and Gerri could chat.
It wasn’t until the flight home on Monday when reading a story on SI.com that we learned who Jackie Smith actually is; an NFL Hall of Famer whose most famous play of his pro career almost ruined his life. You can read his amazing and inspiring story here.
My favorite moment was watching Rick Clunn catch the winning fish on the last day of the Bassmaster Elite on St. Johns River. After having a massive bag on Day 3 with over 31 pounds, I started my Day 4 morning covering Rick. We trailered down the river to where we thought Rick Clunn was going to fish, then waited for his boat to go by so we can follow him to his first spot. Somehow we were slower than him and missed catching him. So we hurried to the area he told me earlier, but dense fog hid him from us. We crept through the fog, idling to not disturb his fishing if we suddenly came across him. Luckily, I found him before he caught his winning bag. His third fish which was about a 5 pounder that slipped away from his hands as he tried to land it. Fortunately, a few seconds later he was able to boat this fish. I bet that moment went by slow motion for Rick, because it went by slow motion for me as I burst my shutter on my camera. It was great to capture the moment of the legend Rick Clunn's winning tournament.
As one of the newer guys on the tournament coverage crew, the first victory I was able to witness in person was Randall Tharp winning the Bull Shoals/Norfork event. I've always known that something special happens to an angler as he locks into the pattern on Championship Sunday to win a 4-day event. I just hadn't ever watched it happen. Randall Tharp overcame a difficult 2015 season with a tremendous showing in 2016, including this win. I was in a boat just 20 yards from Tharp as his final day came together in an impressive manner; just as I knew it would something special happened and he couldn't make a bad move.
It was Tharp's turn to win -- he knew it and I knew it. What made me respect him and his victory even more is the level of emotion he showed back stage before weighing his fish. He knew he had the right fish and could barely keep it together as numerous members of the media tried to get some insight from him. That raw emotion shows a man's guts and heart, and Tharp ain't afraid to show either. That was a special moment during a special day.
Freelance Editor/Web Content Producer
I credit the man with the mullet with my top moment of 2016. The Toyota Angler of the Year event at Mille Lacs was the culmination of seasoned veteran Gerald Swindle's stellar season and sophomore Seth Feider's miraculous career recovery. Every pro faces that point in their career when they don't know if they're going to fish next season - and if they truly have what it takes, they swing for the fences.
Feider stole the show at Mille Lacs, establishing himself as one of the most formidable smallmouth bass anglers in the world.
AOY was Swindle's moment to shine - so when Keith Combs abbreviated his weigh-in commentary by telling the crowd, 'I know you're all here to see Seth Feider' - for me, that really capped off the phenomenal 2016 Elite Series season.
Freelance writer and photographer
I remember sitting in the media pit at the Bassmaster Classic. The first day of the Classic had just wrapped, and Jason Christie looked for all the world like the guy to beat. Edwin Evers sat down in front of myself and Ken Duke. We were all picking over plates of some dubious-looking fried chicken, and Edwin swore up and down that he'd come back to win the thing. He was deadly serious. As it turns out, he went on to stage an incredible comeback after a lackluster day one; and, he was the man hoisting that giant trophy in Tulsa at the end of it all.
I'll never forget that moment. Edwin wasn't cocky or arrogant. He was matter-of-fact, and you could see the fire of a competitor behind his eyes when he called the shot. The fact that he backed it up makes it unforgettable.
He never did finish the chicken.