A flag-wrapped ArmyBassAnglers bass boat led the line of 50 Bassmaster Classic competitor boats that idled from the docks Friday at Bayou Segnette State Park to begin the first competition day of the 41st Classic. The lead boat peeled off as soon as it reached the end of the no-wake zone, allowing the anglers to get on their way after a 70-minute fog delay.
First out was boat No. 1, defending Classic champ and 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam. This is the third year for the ceremonial send-off by ArmyBassAnglers, a group of fishermen who compete to raise money for programs that help wounded soldiers. The anglers are active or retired military personnel who give as much time as they can to support the cause.
Staff Sgt. Mike Garrett drove the boat on Friday. His passengers were fellow team members Lt. Col. Chad Nelson and retired Master Sgt. David Burns. Different members of ArmyBassAnglers will be in the red, white and blue boat when it leads the field again on Saturday and Sunday.
Fishing fans can meet the ArmyBassAnglers this weekend at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick's Sporting Goods at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. They will make stops at the Skeeter, Ardent Reels, Earth Sports, Bass Angler Magazine and Lake Fork Trophy Tackle booths.
ArmyBassAnglers is now on TV, said the group's president, Maj. Cody Roberson. The five-month-old show, Big Bass Battle, is on Versus and World Fishing Network. More information about the group is at ArmyBassAnglers.com.