By Bassmaster Marshal Lee Means
I was number 77 on the waiting list to be a Bassmaster Marshal for the Diet Mtn Dew Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville. The Big G has become my new home lake since moving from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Madison, Ala., two years ago. Four short years ago I began fishing from the banks of the Nickajack and Chickamauga. I bought my first boat only a year ago and have become obsessed with the sport of bass fishing.
I follow all the events and compete against my buddies in Fantasy Fishing. I attended the final day weigh-in of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham and got choked-up hearing Randy Howell talk after holding the trophy over his head. I watched from the left side of the stage with a giant smile in Greenville as hometown hero Casey Ashley lifted the trophy. I’ve begun fishing my rookie tournament season in a local Guntersville division and was heartbroken when I received my letter from B.A.S.S. saying that I may not be a Marshal.
I showed up for the Marshal meeting anyway and waited anxiously for over an hour on the off chance that a spot would open up and need to be filled. When I got the call that they needed a Marshal, I almost screamed with joy. I got the text that I was paired with Kelly Jordon, and I embarrassingly didn’t really know who he was. I quickly Googled him so I could at least recognize his face at the pairing dinner. We did our formal introduction, and he was most gracious saying that he didn’t usually bring ice on the boat, but that I was more than welcome to. We made plans to meet in the morning, and I went to bed that night just excited to be a part of the Elite tour. I was not prepared for what I about to witness and experience.
When Jordon and I took off in flight one as boat number 14, we didn’t go far. Jordon had only five rods on deck. I sat quietly not wanting to disturb him, and I was not really familiar with Marshal etiquette. Jordon engaged me in conversation right from the get go. I relaxed, and the clinic began. I didn’t have a boat last spring, and though I had heard of sight fishing, I didn’t realize it took place on Guntersville. I sure didn’t know I was in the boat with one of the best sight fishermen in the game.
Jordon methodically fished for his bed fish and didn’t get a nibble. He made a couple of casts to a pier, hooked up and then lost the fish. My heart sank. Jordon kept fishing and in a fun, nonchalant manner said, “See how much that bothered me?” I relaxed. Moments later Jordon hooks up again, though it was a healthy looking fish, it measured only 14 inches. We bounced around to several beds, and I watched flips and pitches made with such grace and accuracy that fellow Elites would’ve been in awe. By 10 a.m. I became anxious, and Jordon showed a bit of eagerness for a keeper – we made a move to another part of the lake.
When we pulled into the cove there were several other Elites within the vicinity. Jordon, picking up on my naivety, said, “There’s Jacob Powroznik right there,” and like a movie script JPow hooked up and landed a keeper as we idled by. My anxiety heightened. Jordon started pitching to a lay-down and continued to do so for about 10 minutes. Powroznik trolling motored by and asked Jordon, “How big is she?” I kid you not, before Jordon can answer he hooked into a 4 pounder and JPow said, “WOW!” It’s on. Jordon proceeded to catch three more 5 pounders from the same cove. I won’t go into the details, but at this point I realized I’m in the boat with a true sight fisherman.
I was ecstatic at this point, and I felt like I was in the boat with an old friend. It turns out that we have a mutual friend in Rusty Rust, an ole Nashville stick who Jordon has known since 1995. I’ve had the pleasure of being mentored by Rust since I first decided I wanted to chase green fish four years ago.
Jordon makes a move to a spot I had fished myself. Jordon invited me up on the front deck several times just to show me what to look for. It was eye opening to say the least. Not wanting to hinder him, though, he kept inviting me up to the front. I finally sat as I now wanted to see Jordon slam a giant, and he did. Guntersville fish are healthy fish, and I did my best guess to add them appropriately to BASSTrakk. I pegged him at around 23 or 24 pounds. Kelly weighed in 26.1 that first day, putting him in second place. It was an incredible day with fish caught on only three lures.
My hat’s off to the veteran Jordon for being so personable and gracious – a true Bassmaster Elite. My first Marshal experience will be a memory I cherish for the rest of my life.