by Bruce Callis
February 15, 2017
The Bassmaster Elite Series made their first stop ever to Tennessee’s Cherokee Lake this past weekend. B.A.S.S. hadn’t been there since the Bass Champs Invitational in 1981 actually. But the story isn’t about the mighty elite of the Elites making the headlines. Granted Cliff Crochet lead after day 1 with an impressive 19 pound 7 ounce bag, but day 2 changed that with rookie Jessie Wiggins taking over the lead and holding onto it by a mere 13 ounces heading into the final day over fellow rookie Jamie Hartman. Newcomer Jacob Wheeler was in 3rd by a mere 1 pound 3 ounces. While Jacob is in his first year on the Elite Series, he is not considered a rookie due to his having won so much money on other major trails.
This was a tournament that saw many lesser known anglers on the big stage filling in the top 10. Granted, Jacob isn’t one of the lesser known, but he is a newcomer. Who would have thought Jamie Hartman, Jesse Wiggins, Seth Feider, Paul Mueller, Josh Bertrand, David Mullins, and Matt Herren would be the names we should have picked on our Fantasy Fishing leagues.
Jacob’s win was based on overcoming adversity and making the best of what is given. No explanation, but an electronics mix-up on Friday left him without half of his way-points and he had to do a lot of memory fishing. Good thing he is still young. On Day 3, he lost the use of his trolling motor. But B.A.S.S. has a little known rule that allows a stranded angler to fish with another competitor as long as a marshal is present. Who knew?
This is where Dustin Connell saved Jacob and his bid to win. It also allowed Dustin to do a little learning from a seasoned veteran angler. Granted, they used Jacob’s way-points to land their fish, and Jacob had an impressive bag with 17 pounds 1 ounce for the day. Dustin only had 3 fish for 8 pounds 3 ounces. He finished 37th for the tournament.
Why would a competitor offer to help out a leader in an event they themselves are trying to win? You don’t have to be an Elite angler to answer this one. It is compassion. With a few excepts, I see it all the time, both on the water, and off. An angler struggles and can’t figure out why? Other anglers see it and offer their advice, their secret as to what they are doing to catch fish. We may not share exact spots, exact presentations, or exact colors, but we will give them a good starting point. Sometimes we go further and share the specifics, not because we are bragging, but because we want to help.
I remember fishing a tournament and had a great first day. But others were struggling. I’m no pro, but I shared exactly what I was doing and how I was doing it. Some may wonder why, but I didn’t hesitate. We are a family of passionate anglers, just having fun. The competition is secondary, but helping is always first. And I have received the same type of advice from many others.
Compassion for our fellow anglers and human beings is something inside of us. How compassionate are you? How much would you do to help out a fellow competitor? Would you help them as much as we do a friend who is struggling while out fishing? Or the person we run into in Walmart staring at a bait?