Elite Series Sunshine Showdown

 TAVARES, Fla. --I've heard a couple of grumblings over the last few weeks from people who say that they don't like the $100 enrollment fee to ride along as a Marshal in the Bassmaster Elite Series.

Well, I was in the role of Marshal on Friday and got to ride along with rookie Brandon Palaniuk. I'd like to ask you to consider a couple of things about the Marshal program before you rule it out as "not for you."

One thing right off the bat to think about -- you get at least $100 in gifts/merchandise for being a Marshal, which is kind of cool. And if there wasn't a fee associated with being a Marshal, can you imagine how many people would sign up online and then just never show up? I can.

It would be virtually impossible to rely on having people there and would be a nightmare for the tournament staff and the pros.

As I said earlier, I got to be a Marshal and I have to say it was an incredible experience. It was well worth the actual price of $33 a day – imagine how much it would cost to book one of the pros as a guide.

I got to see how a professional angler picks apart the water, and Palaniuk answered every possible question I ask. He showed me, basically tried to teach me, how to do some things I didn't know how to do, like skip docks. (It's all in the wrist, by the way) And I didn't have to do anything but show up. It was a great experience.

I saw someone say the other day on Facebook that they wouldn't be a Marshal because they didn't figure they could go out with the top guys, that they'd have camera guys with them. Well, cameramen don't go out with the Elites until the final day, so even the big guys have Marshals on the first three days, which is what you sign up for.

But I want to let you in on a little secret. You don't have to ride along with one of the "Big Guys" to learn about fishing and have a stellar day on the water. I wouldn't trade my experience with Palaniuk for 100 rides with KVD, because I just got to spend some quality time with a quality guy, who probably doesn't even realize yet how good he is. And I got to see a little history in the making.


I can't tell you how energized I am after listening to BP talk all day about his hopes and dreams and where he came from and what he's going to do with his life.

This sport of bass fishing tends to attract quality people who care about the same things I care about, and Palaniuk is at the head of the pack, in my opinion. A day with him is worth WAY more than $33, I promise you.

And there's 100 more guys just like him on the Bassmaster Elite Series. So if you don't want to be a Marshal, don't sign up. But don't tell me it's because of 100 bucks. You can get a lot more out of it on just one day.

For more on Marshals, please see

First person: A Marshal's Rides,

KVD: Be a Marshal. To enroll as a Marshal, click here.

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