GREENVILLE, S.C.—There’s a lot of history being made this week at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. One of the new records goes to Trip Weldon, who becomes the B.A.S.S. tournament director with the most Classics under his belt. He’s weighed the winning fish at 17 Classics and counting.
Weldon is only the third tournament director in the 50 year history of B.A.S.S. Harold Sharp was the first. Hired by Ray Scott, Sharp served from approximately 1970 to 1986 (16 Classics). Dewey Kendrick was the tournament director from 1987 until 2001 (15 Classics). Weldon because the assistant tournament director in 1991 and then was promoted to tournament director in 2002.
I asked Weldon if he knew he had been tournament director for more Classics than the men who came before him. “I didn’t have a clue,” he said. “It’s humbling to be mentioned with those guys [Sharp and Kendrick]. We all just worked very hard every day to make it the best it can be.”
Weldon also reflected on the many anglers he has weighed in.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to stand beside legends and to see young anglers become legends,” he said.
Kevin VanDam was one of those young pups when Weldon started in the B.A.S.S. tournament department. KVD’s first Classic was Baltimore in 1991. That was also the first tournament Weldon worked.
“The most rewarding thing for me is the longevity of the tournament staff,” he said. “Chuck Harbin has been with us for 20 years. Gretchen Sheppard and Dannette Jackson 16 years, and Chris Bowes has 15 or 16 years.”
Weldon also talked about the hardest part of his job. “It’s making decisions that are tough on the anglers,” he said. “Because I’m an angler too. I know what it means.”
Which body part has suffered the most from 17 years of weighing fish? “My hands get beat up during the tournaments,” he said. “But they heal fast. “Really it’s the feet, legs and hips from standing so much.”
There’s a tie that binds all three B.A.S.S. tournament directors, beyond a love of fishing. It is railroads. Both Weldon and Sharp worked for railroads before joining B.A.S.S. Kendrick’s father worked for the railroads too.
Congratulations Trip Weldon. May you hoist many more fish!