One dozen Bassmaster fans are now virtually paired with the 12 pros in the Bassmaster Elite Series Toyota Trucks All-Star Week.
One of those 12 fans will score a $30,000 bass boat, a Triton 18XS with a Mercury 150 OptiMax engine. The winning fan will be the one whose pro partner wins the July 23-31 All-Star event. But just by winning the sweepstakes to become a finalist, all 12 fans will receive a tackle pack from Berkley and Havoc and a replica fishing jersey of the pro who they’re paired with.
The 12 fans and their pro pairings are:
- Tom Shoe of Star, N.C., paired with Skeet Reese
- Sean Graves of Spofford, N.H., paired with Edwin Evers
- Shane Martin of Lindstrom, Minn., paired with Terry Scroggins
- Steven McClendon of Nevada, Texas, paired with Jeff Kriet
- David Williams of Sulphur, La., paired with Michael Iaconelli
- Jason Carroll of Dubuque, Iowa, paired with Davy Hite
- John Bragg of Birmingham, Ala., paired with Casey Ashley
- Cynthia Bryan of Farmerville, La., paired with Ott DeFoe
- Brian Fuller of Prattville, Ala., paired with Kevin VanDam
- Eric Almy of West Chester, Ohio, paired with Steve Kennedy
- Robert Agee of Kingwood, Texas, paired with Gerald Swindle
- Tom Toth of Yalaha, Fla., paired with Aaron Martens
The pairings are virtual. Fans don’t actually compete with or against anyone. They’re likely to be watching closely, though, because they win only if their pro wins.
The All-Star pros get started July 23-24 on Alabama’s Lake Jordan out of Wetumpka, Ala. Only eight will survive the cut and move to the Alabama River for three final days of bracketed elimination fishing July 29-31 out of Montgomery, Ala. On July 31, the winner will take home the entire purse of $100,000 while his virtual fan partner will collect the Triton-Mercury rig.
Martens stacks back-to-backs:
Aaron Martens has some hard travel in front of him to reach Alabama in time to get in some practice on Lake Jordan, fishery for the first leg of Toyota Trucks All-Star Week.
All 12 competitors are allowed two days of practice on Jordan before the event begins July 23. But Martens is in Nevada competing in the July 18-20 WON Bass event on Lake Mead.
According to the organization’s reports, Martens, a two-time past winner of the event, led after the first day.
Martens now lives in Leeds, Ala., but he was raised in California and on Western fisheries.
Murray weighs in on the Alabama River:
Two-time Bassmaster Classic champ Bobby Murray says the Alabama River will be a hard nut to crack.
Actually, he goes even further on that point. Few fisheries, said Murray, have ever given him such a hard time as the Alabama River did in the 1981 Classic.
“The Alabama River sent me into retirement,” added Murray, laughing. “It’s not really the reason I retired from competition — I had other business opportunities I wanted to pursue back then — but the Alabama River was my last Bassmaster event.”
For the record, Murray finished 22nd in a field of 41 in the 1981 Classic. His two wins were the first Classic, in 1971 on Lake Mead, and again in 1978 on Mississippi’s Ross Barnet Reservoir.
He said that from what he hears these days, the pros in the July 29-31 Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship portion of Toyota Trucks All-Star Week will have to work hard to beat the Alabama.
“It’s probably one of the very toughest fisheries in Alabama,” Murray said. “There are plenty of fish there, of course, but I know a river like that can get the better of you quickly.”
Brought up on deep, clear lakes, Murray said most rivers have too many miles of similar shoreline structure to suit him.
“And river fish concentrate. In 20 miles of river, you’ll have three or four places with any fish on them,” he said.
Murray, forever famous as winner of the first Classic, well remembers his triumph in 1971, “back before there was any money in it.”
In that first Classic, 24 anglers competed, and the stakes were winner-take-all — “all of $10,000,” Murray said.
The All-Star prize is also winner-take-all, but the amount is 10 times Murray’s first Classic prize.
Murray is scheduled to be back in Alabama next week for the Bassmaster Legends event, a one-day team competition in conjunction with All-Star Week. Lucky for him, he won’t be fishing the Alabama River. The Legends anglers will be far away, on a private lake outside of Montgomery. His teammate will be Guido Hibdon. They’ll try to beat the other teams of Bill Dance and Jerry McKinnis, Tommy Martin and Rick Clunn, and Ken Cook and Guy Eaker.
Legends competitors will appear July 31 on the Bassmaster stage. One Legends team will claim first prize: a trophy and bragging rights.
Martin passes it forward:
Tommy Martin, winner of the 1974 Bassmaster Classic, taught newest Classic qualifier Andrew Upshaw much of what he knows about competitive bass fishing.
Upshaw learned so much from Martin that the young angler brought up Martin’s name in the first hours after winning his 2012 Bassmaster Classic berth. Upshaw qualified for the Classic just last week in the finale of the College B.A.S.S. circuit, claiming the first Classic entry for a collegiate-level angler.
“He taught me technique, but also my mental game,” said Upshaw, whose lives in Hemphill, Texas, the same town Martin calls home. “He taught me the importance of being a humble person, to let my fishing do the talking.”
Later, after being told what Upshaw said, Martin was happy to hear his student had listened so well.
“He’s a great kid, and I didn’t want him to fall into becoming overconfident, what young kids often do,” Martin said. “At home here, he beats the older guys. I told him, ‘Andrew, old men do not like to get beat by kids, so you have to be humble when you beat them — in other words, don’t rub it in.’
“It’s the same in any sport: the good players don’t brag; they let their playing do the talking for them.”
The two met through Upshaw’s father, a high school football coach who had Martin’s son on his team. Coach Upshaw helped him apply for a football scholarship to Sam Houston State College, according to Martin.
“Andrew’s father was instrumental in helping my son, who went on to be an All-American,” he said.
Martin said he was among the first people to take Upshaw fishing, but was just one of many people who influenced the young angler.
“I taught him as much as I could over the years,” he said. “I understand that the college competition came down to the wire, and I hope he remembered something else I always told him.”
That advice? “You can’t ever quit. A lot of things can happen in the last five minutes.”
Martin usually can be found these days guiding on Falcon Lake, Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend or other Texas lakes near his home in Hemphill. He returned to Bassmaster competition this season in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open circuit. He is scheduled to compete July 31 in Bassmaster Legends, an event held in conjunction with Toyota Trucks All-Star Week.
Ashley says ‘Bring it on’:
“I’m looking forward to these events. I’ve never been to either one of these bodies of water we’re going to. It’s going to be very hot, and tough fishing, and that’s my style — junk fishing. Bring it on, I like it.” — Bassmaster Elite Series pro Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., on the July 23-31 Toyota Trucks All-Star Week in Alabama. Ashley made the comment during Tommy Sanders’ new Bassmaster.com show, The Livewell. (http://www.bassmaster.com/video/livewell)
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