Ups and Downs at Classic Expo

As you walk around the Classic Expo, you'll see a giant aquarium filled with bass, can taste free samples of Evan Williams, and smell the latest scents manufacturers have concocted. Not to mention rub elbows with Hank Parker, Bill Dance and other legends of the sport. Truly a bass fisherman's paradise. And best of all, it's free. However, if you're a professional angler, the Expo isn't all roses. Several Elite Series pro explain why, to them, the Expo can be bittersweet.
 Elite Series pro James Niggemeyer
 "With our schedules being as demanding as they are, it's great to be able to give back to the folks who allow us to fish. A lot of times you can't make it to different shows where they may need you, so this is a great time to pay them back. The fact that there are so many fans makes it that much better. The Classic Expo is one of the best.
 "On the other hand, every moment you're in here you're not out on the water."
 Elite Series pro Mark Menendez
 "The thing about the Expo that surprises me so much is that it has become kind of like a family reunion of sorts. There's folks in the industry I don't get to see but once a year. I never thought this would come about, but it has. The best part of it for me is seeing the fans. There are a lot more college jerseys coming through here than I've ever seen before. It's a great chance for them to come see the pros who are more established and ask us questions.
 "The fact that I was one spot out of the Classic makes it harder, but if I don't get to fish, this is where I want to be."
 Elite Series pro Jason Williamson
 I love that I get to meet lots of young guys who have lots of questions. You get to make some great friends and partnerships at the Expo.
 "The part that's hard about the Expo is having people who don't know come up to you and say things like 'why aren't you fishing,' or 'are you fishing tomorrow'. Those are hard, but I get over it. Also, I was only a few spots out of qualifying, so that adds to the frustration. It's just motivation to do better next year."
 Elite Series pro Chris Lane
 These are the people who are responsible for us being out there. They deserve a share of our time. That's the way it is, so I don't mind at all, I enjoy it actually. Especially in an economy like this, you need to take care of them as much as they take care of you.
 "The obvious downside is the fact that you're not out there fishing. You're in here when you can't help but think one of them should be in your place."
 Elite Series pro Clark Reehm
 "Oh, this thing is great. I just got here and it's so packed I think the Fire Marshal is going to shut it down tomorrow. If you want to come, you better come early tomorrow. It's awesome.
 "Well, I think I'd do pretty well on the Red River, so this year I think I could've done more for my sponsors on the water than in here."