Dustin Connell awed viewers, made others cry and turned a good number into fans during a segment on Bassmaster LIVE, and it had nothing to do with him actually fishing.
As Connell idled in on Championship Monday of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett, viewers were given a glimpse into the mind of a young tournament angler on the cusp of victory.
Editor's note: Watch the video described below here.
Connell, 26, would go on to defeat Kevin VanDam by more than 2 pounds for his second B.A.S.S. title and first in his rookie Elite season. But his stream-of-consciousness soliloquy hit a chord with fans. After making his run back from the Pearl River, where cell coverage was hit and miss, Connell fished the final moments before check-in in the Main Harbour.
He began to talk about his chances to win, and said he was not just fishing for himself but also for everyone back home around Clanton, Ala. -- all his family and the “hammers” in that fishing community.
“I want to win for them, too … I think I’m short, man,” he said, displaying self-doubt with his final day catch while wiping a tear from underneath his sunglasses. “I don’t think I have enough.”
It was letting his guard down, wearing his emotion on his sleeve, and he tried to cover up. Like Steve Martin and John Candy in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” Connell quickly changed the subject and got off that topic, but only momentarily.
“How about that sunrise this morning? That was awesome, wasn’t it?” he asked cameraman Wes Miller, who was somewhat complicit in getting Connell to spill his guts.
Miller suggested that the sunrise practically showed Connell where to fish, and Connell nodded his head. After a pause, Connell detailed how fortunate he was to pull his kicker fish from a thick mat, a fish that comes off “99 percent of the time.”
“When I got my hands on it, that’s what I needed right there,” said Connell, who followed with more doubt. “I don’t think I’ve got enough, man.”
Egged on again by Miller, Connell spoke about having kicker fish each day. He was sixth after Day 1 with 19 pounds, 12 ounces, then climbed into first with 16-11 on Friday. Connell’s 15-7 on Saturday gave him a 5-6 lead over his nearest competitor heading into Sunday, which was postponed until Monday by storms.
“I’ve had one or two big fish every day, that size,” Connell said. “We’ll just see how it shakes out, man. I don’t think I got it. I just don’t think so.
“God, I don’t want second place, dude. Ah, I don’t want second.”
About then Connell pulled up to the dock, and Miller told him he enjoyed filming him. Connell again said he was worried he didn’t have enough, and he shed another tear.
“God, I needed one more, dude,” he said. “I needed one more 3-pounder.”