Bassmaster.com has asked our team of writers and staff to reflect on their favorite moment of 2016. Pete Robbins is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Bassmaster.com. He also can’t just pick one moment, so he provided two.
Charlie Hartley Wins
To call Charlie Hartley an “everyman” is unfair to him. His skills are clearly far superior to the average angler. Nevertheless, I’ve always felt that Hartley represented the fans who wished they could take a stab at life on tour – no one seems to enjoy every moment more, and take every fish for granted less, than Mr. Hartley. No true fan was happy when Charlie didn’t requalify for the Elite Series in 2016. Honestly, I don’t really get chills much from watching fishing – maybe I’m a bit jaded – but when Charlie slapped over 20 pounds on the scales at the Hartwell Classic in 2008 it was goosebumps times. Now, after a year off tour, he’s headed back to his second Classic, thanks to an impressive win at the James River Northern Open in August. Keith Combs and Todd Faircloth may be the home state favorites, and KVD is the Greatest of All Time, but Charlie will have plenty of fans cheering for him…and rightfully so.
Tharp and Herren Let it All Hang Out in Arkansas
One of the biggest problems of covering bass fishing is that 100+ anglers spread out over thousands of acres of water and there’s no way to keep an eye on them all. That means that many of the most poignant moments go unnoticed or unmentioned. Additionally, in the history of tournament fishing we’ve tended to sweep many of the controversies and conflicts under the rug, afraid of giving the sport a black eye. Those two shortcomings reached their logical conclusion when Randall Tharp and Matt Herren had an on-the-water dispute at Norfork in April. They both had cameras in their boats, and BASS made the prudent decision to include it in the show. While neither one lost his cool it made for compelling television. Weekend anglers experience these types of conflicts every weekend, and in a way it’s comforting to know that it happens at every level of the sport. More importantly, the BASS TV staff got the two pros to sit down on camera and “hug it out” by explaining the lapse in communication. It didn’t give bass fishing a black eye – instead it humanized it made it more like every other sport.