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Weldon: Farewell B.A.S.S.

Tournament director Trip Weldon on the Elite Series stage, which has been his "office" for many years.

This will, in all likelihood, be my last official blog at B.A.S.S. At the end of day on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, I will officially be a member of the retirement community. So let me say “farewell B.A.S.S.” from an official capacity.

There are so many things I could talk about having traveled the country doing tournaments for 30 years. I choose though to talk about the people along the way. There is no way I can thank Dewey Kendrick, Helen Sevier and Karl Dabbs for the opportunity to go to work for such a great organization. Little did I know growing up in Montgomery’s Capital Heights, a mere two blocks from the original B.A.S.S. office, that it would lead to my life’s primary vocation.

Years later Dewey worked for Xerox Corporation and sold copiers to B.A.S.S. and was later hired. We both volunteered at the 1981 Classic in Montgomery — the first indoor weigh-in — and became friends. I was a railroad man for 13 years and had left with a buyout because I was going to be relocated. Dewey gave me a call several months later and hired me to be his assistant tournament director.

Through those years I had the great pleasure and honor to work with so many fantastic people who became lifelong friends. Don Corkran, Glenda Cobb, Patti Morsch, James “Pooley” Dawson, Chuck Harbin and many others of us logged many a mile across this great country. Working with Ray Scott, Bob Cobb, Dave Precht and James Hall was truly an honor. Then of course all of our part-time contractors like the late Max Leatherwood, Chris Bath, Pee Wee Powers and all the many men and women who worked part time or volunteered at B.A.S.S. events over the years.

Our current staff of Jon Stewart, Gretchen Sheppard, Chris Bowes, Dannette Jackson, Hank Weldon, Lisa Talmadge, Matt Dowd and Gene Gilliland will keep things rolling along like usual. To Bruce Akin, Chase Anderson and the Anderson Group, and all the current staff including JM Associates, thank you. And I would be remiss not to mention former CEO Dean Kessel who named me Tournament Director in 2002 and of course ESPN. And to my great friends Don Logan, the late Jerry McKinnis and Jim Copeland, you came in at a precarious time and took B.A.S.S. to great heights.

Through the 52 years of B.A.S.S. there have been many changes. As mentioned, changes in ownership, leagues, technology, etc. The one constant that will never change is all our love for fishing and being in the outdoors. I am proud to have been not only a member, but a stakeholder in an organization that has always strived to make bass fishing better for all of us … myself included. The standard five-bass limit and catch and release has been going strong since 1972. Many agencies, people, volunteers and especially the anglers themselves have seen to it.

To all the professional anglers, your talents are truly amazing. To your families, it was a privilege to share our times together.

One quick update as I battle Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: I am now through my fourth treatment with two scheduled to go. After my third they ran a CT scan that came back good. Praise God! Some of my days are better than others, but isn’t that life in general? My doctor and nurses at Montgomery Cancer Center have been great and very compassionate. I have collectively received hundreds of texts from current and former Elites along with many from other anglers and friends. I thank you for your continued prayers and remind you to be a prayer warrior for others. Please pray for Aaron Martens. Certainly 2020 was never better proof of prayer needs all around us, and unfortunately it continues with COVID.    

God is good!

So as I sail off to Lake Jordan in central Alabama with Mary, our kids and grandkids, good fishing to you all. It has been quite a ride.

Bass wishes to you all.