Daily Limit: Looking back, moving forward

Jordan Lee's victory in the Classic highlights the 2017 Bassmaster year.

B.A.S.S. will soon begin celebrating its 50th year of existence, with all kinds of content looking back at who and what brought us to where we are as an organization. Daily Limit will help dive into that, but for now we’re going to focus on the big doings of this past year.

Our CEO, Bruce Akin, sends out a letter at year’s start, somewhat of a state of B.A.S.S. address. The top item on his list was the new majority ownership by Anderson Media. Chase Anderson has promised “seamless continuity for B.A.S.S. and those connected with it.” Read more about it here.

Next on Akin’s agenda was noting some firsts with bass fishing’s premier event, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. It was the first time Classic weigh-ins were in a Major League Baseball stadium, the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park. The Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field, which hosted the 2000 Classic, is among the other history making Classic venues.

Other firsts were the largest Bassmaster Classic Expo, with 236 exhibitors filling 146,000 square feet and posting record sales. On Lake Conroe, 25-year-old Jordan Lee became the first former Bassmaster College champion to win a Classic, and his comeback from 15th place, 13-pounds, 14-ounces back, ranks first all-time.

Tournament director Trip Weldon gave the 2017 Elite Series the title of “Young Guns and Veterans,” as a mix of both claimed the nine $100,000 first-place prizes. With the fifth consecutive season topping 100,000 in attendance, the Elites have now surpassed 1.1 million fans attending events in 12 seasons.

Online, fans responded in record numbers, both in the number of visitors and page views, and our new video page was well-received. All that helped all Bassmaster’s Social Media platforms experience growth.

Bassmaster LIVE, which was simulcast on WatchESPN, had a large increase in viewers and minutes viewed. JM Outdoors produced 222 hours of LIVE, along with 38 hours of Bassmaster tournament programming as well as a variety of shows that aired on ABC, NBC Sports, ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel.

Akin was pleased to announce Thom Abraham filled a gap with Bassmaster Radio, giving B.A.S.S. coverage on every “channel” of media.

The year also marked a change in the Bass Pro Shops Opens series, which switches formats from three events in each of three divisions to eight Opens split into two divisions and capped with an end-of-year championship.

Also impressive in 2017 were impressions from various media outlets, which the Communications Department monitors – B.A.S.S. topped more than 2 billion for the third straight year.

Expect Bassmaster Magazine to begin its special anniversary content with a bang, as staff has been planning how best to commemorate Ray Scott’s brainchild, which began with his membership drive 50 years ago this month. The magazine also has undergone a redesign with a fresh look.

Akin offered much more on the year, but he closed with a resonating message:

“None of us knows what the future holds for our industry or our sport, but we remain confident in the power of the B.A.S.S. brand, the quality of our content and the talent and dedication of all our coworkers.”

This shot from a surveillance camera shows the truck that made off with David White’s trailer.

The good and bad of modern life

David “Happy” White of Battlefield, Mo., suffered a cruel hardship at the hands of thieves, making him very unhappy. Then he experienced goodwill via the help of his fellow man, which gave him renewed hope in mankind.

Enjoying one of his last days deer hunting in nearby Kansas, White came home in the dark and awoke to discover his work trailer had been stolen. White works for JL Marine and takes his Power-Pole wrapped trailer to the service yards at Bassmaster and other tournament circuits.

“I was just in a state of shock. I live in a real nice area. Nobody ever gets anything stolen,” he said. “Just waking up, I’m trying to think, did I move it? I couldn’t accept somebody stole it.”

White filed a police report, giving the value of the Featherlite specialty trailer at $60,000 and the Power-Pole parts and tools inside at around $30,000. He gave police footage from his surveillance camera showing a red pickup leaving his property with the trailer on New Year’s Day at 1:08 p.m.

His next move was to post on Facebook and call all the pro anglers he knew to help spread the word.

“I’m on Facebook, but I don’t like getting on,” he said. “I put on there be on the lookout for the trailer, spread the word.

“It blew up like crazy. There was people from Texas, Maine, all over the country, people were texting me. It was amazing how good that worked.”

There were more than 800 shares of White’s post, with the likes of pro anglers James Watson and Jason Christie reposting to their fans. An anonymous tip led police to the trailer behind a residence in nearby Springfield, but no arrests have been made.

“This is what’s incredible. The police’s hands are so tied,” White said. “They went to the house and knocked on the door. They could see people get up and run to the back of the house, but they can’t go in the house. They can’t make them come to the door.”

White does have his trailer back and an investigation is under way. He picked up the trailer from an impound lot and when contacted was on his way to Featherlite’s facility in Cresco, Iowa, for repairs. White thinks insurance will cover most all of the losses, as everything from inside the trailer was gone.

“There was nothing left,” he said. “There tore out all the shelving and cabinets. It was a very nice trailer. They even tried to pull the wrap but it’s too cold. They used house paint over the wrap … a puky lime green color.”

White said he even heard from an angler who was driving behind the red pickup when it was hauling the trailer. The man mentioned to his wife how he wanted a set of Power-Poles, and that it looked like a bigger truck was needed as it struggled.

“He said it should have dawned on him – that it should have sent up some red flags,” White said. “I and everybody at JL Marine is amazed and very thankful.

“I’m not a big internet person. I hate to get on the thing, to be honest, but I’m just overwhelmed with everybody’s help. I feel so bad about who did this, but it’s helped to have so many good people helpin­­­g me.”