This spring has been a tough run in the world of professional bass angling.
It was a stretch health related issues that began in late March and continued into late May: The wife of one pro passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer; one of the sport's most legendary anglers passed away from surgical complications; an Outdoor Channel fishing show co-host was diagnosed with cancer; and two of the sport's best all-time pros suffered from heart attacks.
The difficult turn of events started back on March 25 when Donna Menendez, wife of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Menendez of Paducah, Ky., passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Mark Menendez, a regular on somefishing programming on Outdoor Channel and a three-time winner on the B.A.S.S. tournament trail, missed the 2013 Elite Series season and this year's season to care for his ailing wife.Donna Menendez was survived by Mark and two young children. To contribute to the family in her honor, contributions can be made to: Menendez Family Benefit Account, Paducah Bank, P.O. Box 2600, Paducah, KY 42002.
On May 11, legendary B.A.S.S. angler Ricky Green of Hot Springs, Ark., passed away following complications resulting from his recent lung transplant surgery.
Elected to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2005, Green was one of Ray Scott's pioneering tournament anglers that was always near the top of a tournament leaderboard.
Dubbed "Mr. Consistency" at one point in his career, Green won five national level events. He also qualified for 14 consecutive Bassmaster Classic tourneys, finishing as runner-up in that event twice, along withmaking three career appearances in the FLW Tour's Forrest Wood Cup championship event.
Jimmy Houston, a longtime competitor on the B.A.S.S. and FLW Tour circuits, was a very close friend of Green (Houston served as a pallbearer at Green's funeral) and shared his grief through a Facebook post.
"Our friend Ricky Green lost his battle to (live), but he won the war," said Houston in a May 12 post.
"He has gone to his heavenly home and his body is gloriously whole. We can take comfort in knowing this, but that doesn't lessen the emotionally draining feelings that we had in learning of his (death).
"Our hearts are so full of sorrow in knowing that he has left a great void in the Green family circle."
Green was survived by his wife Karen; sons Ricky and Keith; five grandchildren; two step-children Gay and Chris; and four step-grandchildren.
Green's family requests that memorials made in Ricky's memory be made to the: Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, c/o Donald Howell, 361 Summit Blvd. Suite 210, Birmingham, AL, 35243.
As if the passing of both Donna Menendez and Ricky Green weren't enough for the pro bass angling fraternity to deal with, three days later on May 14, well known B.A.S.S. and FLW Tour angler Ron Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., suffered a heart attack while driving on a road not far from his home.
According to the FLW Tour's website, Shuffield was taken to a local hospital where he received five stents to help open up blocked arteries.
Shuffield won seven tournaments and made 15 Classic appearances on the B.A.S.S. circuit while winning more than a half-million dollars. He also made six Forrest Wood Cup appearances in an eight-year FLW career.
Barely a week later, popular Reed Springs, Mo., angler Stacey King, co-host of Bass Pro Shops' "The Bass Pros" on Outdoor Channel, announced via his Facebook page that he was battling cancer.
"I've been blindsided by a health issue and going (through) a bunch of tests the last couple of weeks," said King in his May 20post.
King, who has two wins and 12 Classic appearances on the B.A.S.S. circuit and four Forrest Wood Cup appearances on the FLW Tour side of competition, indicated that he had been diagnosed with "squamous cell carcinoma in a lymph node."
While the cancer was discoveredon the side of his neck, doctor's indicated that they weren't sure where the cancer had actually originated.
The FLW Tour's Colin Moore reported the next day (May 21) on the circuit's website that King would skip the remaining two events on the 2014 schedule.
Since then, King has reportedly undergone a tonsillectomy and several biopsies as doctor's search for the cancer's source and look for a path to treat the illness.
Finally, on Memorial Day, three-time FLW Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt suffered a heart attack while in Tennessee to pre-fish for the Bassmaster Northern Open event last weekend on Douglas Lake.
Wendlandt, a Leander, Texas, resident and former B.A.S.S. tournament pro, drove himself to a local hospital after being awakened in the night by severe chest, upper body and jaw pains.
He was transported by ambulance to a Knoxville, Tenn., hospital where he underwent a surgical procedure to open up blocked arteries with the placement of a stent.
While Wendlandt is expected to make a full recovery, doctors have reportedly advised the 15-time Forrest Wood Cup qualifier to pull the plug on the remainder of his 2014 season.