Team: From Australia to Arkansas

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Dean Silvester and his partner Mark Ferguson traveled more than 31 hours to get to Arkansas for the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship.

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. – Dean Silvester was already something of a fishing legend in his native Australia long before he met American bass fishing royalty.

“The first smallmouth I ever caught was with Kevin,” Silvester said, casually dropping the name of Kevin VanDam, the most successful bass fishing pro in history. Both men are sponsored by Quantum, and they fished together at a media event in the not so distant past.

So who caught the most bass that day?

“We just talked trash most of the time,” Silvester said with a wry smile. “I was setting up a camera and Kevin had four (bass in the boat) before I was finished with the camera.”

Silvester, a 37-year-old electrical engineer from Brisbane, Australia, already has a leg up on many of the other 320-plus anglers competing this week in the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship here in northern Arkansas. And the edge wasn’t gained by getting tips from KVD.

Silvester has been the top-ranked angler for three of the past four years in his homeland, and he likely would have won that fourth title had he not missed a tournament because of work.

He has a dozen or more sponsors, including major players Lowrance and the aforementioned Quantum, and he’s an outgoing and friendly guy. It likely doesn’t hurt either that Silvester could pass for a Hollywood actor as much as a professional bass angler.

Silvester, as well as fellow Aussie and fishing partner Mark Ferguson, are competing as members of the Australia B.A.S.S. Nation here on Norfork Lake, and the Men from Down Under have impressed. They entered Day 2 of the two-day team competition tied for 28th place with a limit that weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces. That puts them less than 6 pounds behind the Day 1 leaders and 3 1/2 pounds out of third place. The top three teams (six anglers) in the team portion of this tournament will have their weights zeroed after Thursday’s weigh-in and then compete individually in another two-day event with a spot in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on the line.