Watch a BASS tournament and you'll notice plenty of men and women in yellow BASS ball caps helping to make sure the event runs smoothly.
These workers from B.A.S.S. Federation Nation clubs throughout the country volunteer their services to provide needed support for the regular BASS tournament staff. Their duties at various BASS events include running camera and rescue boats, handing out weigh-in slips and helping with the care and handling of fish during the weigh-ins.
"We couldn't do it without them and we really appreciate their help," said Trip Weldon, BASS tournament director. "They do such a great job of helping us with vital jobs that take place during the weigh-in. It is paramount that they are there. They do it because they love the sport and BASS."
Federation Nation members also help with the logistics of setting up a tournament at various sites throughout the country. Duane Case, Missouri's Billings Bassmasters club vice president, had worked BASS events in 1994 and 1996 through the Federation Nation, so he volunteered for the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Table Rock this year. "It became my job to round up everybody to help," he said. "I spent weeks calling people and setting up schedules and getting everybody there."
During the Table Rock event, Case lined up 38 boats for camera crews and rescue duties. Volunteers running camera boats usually put in the longest hours during the tournament. "They were usually up by 5 a.m. and in the water by 5:30," said Case. "Then they would come back in anywhere from noon to 2 o'clock, and all the boaters helped at the weigh-in."
Case had no trouble mustering volunteers despite the long hours. "I point out that they get to hang around the pros and meet the BASS staff," said Case. "The volunteers know it's a gas working with the pros. It's their chance to be around 100 of the best pros in the world. The pros are very personable: There isn't one of them that will not stop and actually chat with you."
Virginia's Lynchburg Bassmasters club member Steve Woodruff has handled a variety of duties for six BASS events, including the Northern Tour finale at Smith Mountain Lake. The Virginia angler considers it a labor of love. "It's all for fun. I enjoy doing it," he said. "I love hanging around the tournament staff guys, and I have met several of the pros doing this, including Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, Hank Parker and Mike Iaconelli. The pros are super nice and will talk to you as if they are your neighbor. It's not all money and show."
Besides meeting the pros, the Federation Nation volunteers also gain the satisfaction of helping put on a good show. "We all belong to the same organization, whether you are a pro fisherman or a grass-roots fisherman," said Case. "So we all work together to make the tournament work."
Contact BASS today at 877-BASS USA or [email protected] to let us know if you are interested in volunteering