Almost living the dream

As points leader at the season finale Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open, Pete Gluszek is within easy reach of qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. — Pete Gluszek is on the verge of realizing a dream. He leads the Bass Pro Shop Bassmaster Northern Open at Cayuga Lake by a 5-pound margin. Victory will give him a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.

A restless night is ahead. Gluszek will battle insomnia because he’s experienced the benefits of the high stakes game he’s playing to win.

In the late 1990s he was a top pro on the B.A.S.S. tour, having fished the Bassmaster Top 100 Tour. In the day it was forerunner to the current Elite Series. He qualified for the Bassmaster Classic in 1997 and again two years later.

“It’s dizzying to think about what could happen tomorrow,” he said. “My goals now are skewed. I want to win this tournament. I know what it means to make a Classic.”

Meanwhile, Gluszek has spent the past three years as resident instructor at the Bass University. Credit this graduate level academics course of bass fishing for his motivation to score the Classic berth and tournament victory.

“I’ve found that teaching provokes self-examination,” he said of the program he co-founded with Michael Iaconelli. “After so many years of fishing at the competitive level, you sometimes don’t stop to think through how weather and other variables affect the outcome of a fishing strategy.”

“You don’t realize those things until a student poses a question and then you have to go through the details of explaining the reasons why it happens that way,” he continued. “That makes you stop and think about a similar situation you encountered. You remember that moment later and use it to make adjustments.”

The primer of bass fishing knowledge from students comes from a wide scope of angling skills. Journeyman pros sign up for lectures and demonstrations held for two days on a given weekend. Seasoned anglers with decades of experience come for a refresher course. Beginners bring fresh questions and motivation to the classroom. The mixing pot of questions and shared knowledge benefits everyone, instructors included.

“After 15 years of teaching seminars I still get the ‘aha’ moment,” said Gluszek. “It’s a thought provoking process that really helps me improve my own angling skills.”

The road to teaching bass fishing skills and tournament competitions began at the grass-roots level. Gluszek was introduced to tournament fishing through the New Jersey B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. He competed at the club level for six years, narrowly missing the national championship by a narrow margin.

He’s now attempting to reenter the highest level of tournament bass fishing from the same door he entered. Like many amateurs, Gluszek graduated from club events to pro draw-format tournaments, namely the Bassmaster Invitational events. Those were the equivalent to the Opens he’s fishing now. Only this time the stakes are higher.

It is doubtful that Gluszek will get a decent night’s rest. There’s too much to think about tonight. And it’s all good.