The 2018 Bassmaster Adventure:
A New Chapter – By Bruce Callis

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What is it like to attend your first Bassmaster Classic? I use to wonder what it would be like. I heard about all the excitement. I had heard about the expo. But, until this year, I had never attended one in person. I had spent months waiting, and I will have to say, they seemed to drag on forever. Rooms were booked, travel plans made, I was set to go. Travel plans were changed last minute, and then it was time to get this grand adventure started.

I had my bags packed Wednesday night and only had a couple items to add to my luggage once I was ready to go out the door. Coffee ready, charger packed, out the door I go, picked up my brother Bill and away we went. I had to meet Tiffany Risch and get the rental car, then drop her car off and hit the road, while Bill returned home to await my return. The excitement was building higher, knowing it would be just 6 short hours and I would be at my first Classic.
While the trip started off slow, needing too much coffee and the resulting potty breaks, once we hit halfway, the excitement started to really build inside both Tiffany and myself. I will have to say, nothing beats riding with a great friend and filling the car with laughter. And before we knew it, we were at the exit over to the Classic area. Tiffany dropped me off at my motel and off she went to her accommodations. Then off I went to The Academy Sports + Outdoors Classic dinner presentation at the Hilton hotel, luckily it was only a block away, and back to the hotel. Day 1 was long, but I had survived and the real fun had not even started.

Caleb Hillenbrand and brother

Day 2 started early, up at 6 am and breakfast, then the whole BassCast crew headed over to the Classic Expo at the TD Convention Center. We were able to get in an hour before the Expo opened to the general public, which gave us some time to talk to the vendors and see what they had new for this year. But just an hour is not enough time to make it to everyone. The Expo was divided into two rooms, the first room was huge and held about 3 times as much as the smaller room, if not more. I started with the smaller room, and I basically did some promotional videos with a few of the vendors. And before I knew it, it was time to head over to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for the big weigh-in on Day 1 of the tournament. For those who watched it on BASS Live, you got to see exactly what I got to see, only once the anglers came off stage and came back into the Media Room, my viewing became sporadic at best. I got my turn to talk to them about whatever I thought would be of greater interest to you and not the same old stuff of what did you use to catch your fish, where did you go fishing, and what will you do tomorrow. I also got to listen to everything, which was a rare treat. And then after all the interviews, it was a free concert by Jason Aldean. What an exciting end to the day for sure. Afterwards, back to the hotel, write a recap of my day and off to bed.

Ally Carey with HUK

Day 3 is cut day, and you can feel the excitement as the day begins. Early to rise and off to the Expo to do more interviews, talk with the Elite and FLW anglers, before heading over to the weigh-in again. While most of the crew left early, Josh Rollins of BassBoat4Sale.com and myself stayed behind to do some more things. I met up with Tiffany and we did a lot of talking with all the companies and even took the time to ride the big bad bass. Yes, the shiny slick bass that was the same as a mechanical bull gave me a rough ride before tossing me like a crankbait as it leaps out of the water. Then back to the weigh-in and the media room. Then the top 6 official press conference and some last minute questions and my day 3 was done.
Championship Sunday, my day 4 at the Classic, started off even better than I thought. As I got my morning coffee, I ran into Wayne Antoine of Banc Anglers out of California. He and other members of the club were there to root on one of their own, a young man they had know since childhood, and who was now fishing his first ever Bassmaster Classic, Mr. Mark Daniels, Jr. Over breakfast we discussed how Mark and his early years, his strive to be better and his victories. Things that you don’t get to hear about normally. Then it was back to the room, finish packing up everything and over to the Expo where I met up with Tiffany, who said she was leaving the key on the top of the tire, but was in the car and waited until I checked the front tire then blew the horn and scared the living daylights out of me. I put my luggage in the car, told the guys goodbye and inside we went. We were supposed to be hitting the road no later than 11 am, but that got pushed back as we did some last minute adventures and a couple videos. I got to finally get my picture with Bill Dance, and I ran into Roland Martin who was at the concession stand getting a brownie. And before we knew it, time had slipped past and we needed to hit the road so we could get home before it got too late.

Wayne Antione with Banc Anglers

Outside and a last minute photo and off we went, filled the car with gas, and the road called our name. Two tired best friends writing the ending to their first Bassmaster Classic adventure. The required coffee and then stopping to get something to eat. A detour because of road work to save 26 minutes and some amazing talk filled with laughter. Then a partner turns into a rabbit, some awesome tunes and we hit the Virginia border. The adventure is still fresh as we pull into the rental car lot, tired and ready to head home. An hour later, I finally arrive home, tired and exhausted.

So, you ask how my 1st Classic was? It was AWESOME!! I walked at least 10 miles, talked more than I thought I ever would. Experienced the thrill of being a fan, and worked backstage doing what so many only wish they could. Tiring, exhausting, but so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again and again! It is something that everyone has to do at least once! The adventure continues!

Robin Howell

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