Nation presidents as competitors


Andrew Canulette

MANY, La. – When Kevin Gaubert competed last week in the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors, he couldn’t keep his thoughts from drifting to the other anglers in the field.

In the world of bass fishing, that’s considered a no-no. At all costs, the mantra goes, you keep your head down and focus on what you can catch – not what those around you are catching.

Gaubert, however, was not the traditional tournament angler last week. Sure, he’s fished for bass most of his life and has competed in tournaments for several decades. But besides being dedicated to his game, he’s also dedicated to his team in more ways than one.

Gaubert is the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation president, a position he’s held since 1999. And though he was fishing as hard as he could as one of 190 non-boaters in the regional field last week on Toledo Bend Reservoir, he certainly was wondering how “his guys” were faring at the same time.

Serving as both a teammate and the de facto team captain was “challenging,” he said.

“It can be tough because you obviously want to do as well as you can for your team,” Gaubert said. “All you can do is catch a limit, but the whole time I’m thinking ‘Man, we have some really good anglers on this team. We have a chance to win this thing. I’ve got to do well. ”

Gaubert didn’t have as good a showing at the scales (two days; four bass; 9 pounds, 1 ounce) as he would have liked, but his top-shelf organizational skills allowed the 19 other Louisiana anglers focus on catching bass. And that may have been as valuable as anything, except maybe Gaubert’s 10-pound lunker that never was.

Team Louisiana did win the central regional, which featured 20-person teams (10 boaters and 10 non-boaters) from 19 different states. And Gaubert wasn’t the only state president to compete in the regional.

Kansas’ Joel Porter, Kentucky’s Nick Coleman, Mississippi’s Dave Patterson, Oklahoma’s Richard Minyard and South Dakota’s Shawn Van Gerpen also qualified through their respective state tournaments. Alabama president Eddie Plemons stepped in as an alternate for his team, as well.

Coleman was the only state president to survive the cut in the regional, but every president’s contributions to their state squads cannot be underestimated.

Consider the amount of dedication that goes into the job. Gaubert said it takes him at least a month of work to prepare for the Louisiana Nation spring and fall tournaments. Much like the B.A.S.S. officials who organized the regional, Gaubert must deal with registration, entry fees, insurance and results, as well as readying his state’s scales and trailer for those state events. When a state team is set after the fall tournament, there will be jerseys and T-shirts to order, meetings to organize and more paperwork to complete.

He admits the role can take away from time he otherwise would spend on the water, but he also knows that the work makes the experience better for everyone involved (him included).

“You have to make your time count, and you balance fishing with family and with work,” said Gaubert, who is a facility safety supervisor with Dow Chemical in southeast Louisiana. “I enter as a co-angler because it’s a time thing. I’m helping the team get ready for the regional, and it’s easier for me to just hop in someone else’s boat and go than it is for me to get my own boat ready.”

Gaubert has balanced his presidency with his angling for nearly 20 years and says he’s happy with amount of time he affords both. He’s qualified for three regional tournaments in that span.

“I love it,” he said. “I’ll do it as long as they’ll have me because it’s so rewarding. I love to see the team do well and I want to help on the water and off it.”

While Gaubert is a veteran president, Kentucky’s Coleman is new to the gig, having only been elected Kentucky B.A.S.S. Nation President last month. He’s familiar with a behind-the-scenes roll, though, as he was the state vice president for two years and a regional director for the Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake area before that.

“I was being coached along,” Coleman said. “I think (Nation officials in Kentucky) saw this role for me before I ever saw it. It may take a little time away from fishing, but I was raised that way. When you’re part of something, you give back.”

Coleman, who fished as a non-boater on Toledo Bend, said there are similarities between being a B.A.S.S. Nation President and being a good teammate.

“You have to be open to all mindsets,” he said. “You have to listen to all members whether it’s a compliment a concern or a complaint. I try to play it all straight by the book. That makes it easier.”

Coleman still considers himself very much a competitor, and he proved his mettle by finishing third overall (six bass, 29-4 total) in the non-boater division on Toledo Bend, despite being skunked on Day 2 of the tournament. That made him the leading Kentucky non-boater in the field and earned him a spot in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship which will be held later this year on an undisclosed date and fishery.

“(On Day 2 when I didn’t catch a bass) I absolutely was not thinking about my teammates, I was thinking how I was going to catch fish,” Coleman said. “I’m there for my team, but I qualified just like everyone else. I worked hard. Everyone on the team did, and that’s what’s so great about B.A.S.S. Nation – we really are a team. The 20 of us rented three houses and stayed together. We talk and eat together. That stuff is important.”

Like Coleman, Minyard held various positions with the Oklahoma Nation before ascending to the president’s role in December. He tried to soak in as much of the experience as he could, including attending a meeting for all 19 state presidents which was held in the middle of one of two official practice days.

“I could have sent a representative, but I needed to be at the meeting and I was happy to do it,” said Minyard, who competed as a boater in at Toledo Bend.

Minyard takes great pride in watching his Oklahoma Nation anglers succeed. Case in point – he said his finest fishing memory since taking a leadership position a decade ago was watching his son Aaryn and teammate Hunter Meadows win a Junior Bassmasters National Championship in 2015. Things have come full circle, Minyard said, as Meadows also was a member of Team Oklahoma during last week’s central regional.

“I want to be the best there is in the tournament just like everyone else, but I’m happy to do the presidential duties too,” Minyard said. “The regional was a great experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, unless I could do it all over again and catch a few more fish.”