The Old Year That Brought So Much

What Was Your Best Of 2019?
by Bruce Callis Jr

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Say it ain’t so Joe! Say it ain’t so! Another amazing year is coming to an end way too fast. 2019 was both an amazing year for me and for The BassCast. It was also a year of shake up in the Bass Industry. So many changes and it still isn’t over. The year 2020 should be filled with a lot of fun and changes also. What will we see happen?

As 2019 comes to a close, it gives me the opportunity to reflect on how well 2019 was for me. The journey that 2019 offered was amazing. I got to challenge myself and to meet so many amazing people through The Bass Cast. While writing has never been something I ever thought I would do for anything other than a few old fashioned letters, the opportunity to share with you has been a great joy. Thanks to Brian Carter and his belief in my abilities, I have made it through another year and have been able to share some amazing stories and product reviews with you, the readers. And while our podcasts continue, it has been difficult for us to do them together. As so often happens, the guest are not always free at the times that meet our group discussions. It has been an amazing year for sure.

I can not thank my family and so many amazing friends for an exciting 2019. As many of you know, Tiffany “Snookie” Risch is my fishing partner and best friend. We met by chance on a blind pairing for a fishing tournament and we struck up an immediate friendship. She has made this year so amazing through our many adventures fishing and trips to other events. While we have fun fishing, laughing so hard and talking about life, we challenge each other to fish different techniques and even to hone our weaknesses. We have shared the freezing weather in search of big bass to the saltwater for our first cobia and red fish. She has been a blessing to me in that she has challenged me to grow as a person and an angler.

Jacob Stephens has been another great friend. I got to fish with him on numerous trips. From the James River and Chickahominy River to the Chickahominy Lake and Lake Anna. Some were very fruitful and others were fishless, but every one was fun and full of laughter. He even tried getting me hooked on my first smallmouth in a local tournament on the upper James River. I hooked it and then watched as it shake loose. Hopefully it will happen in 2020.


There were so many others, too numerous to list, that made 2019 a great year. Each of you have made a difference in my life this past year. You have helped me grow as a person, as an angler, and as a Christian. It has been a journey that I treasure dearly.
I had the opportunity to attend the Richmond Virginia Fishing Expo again in 2019 and I learned a lot from the anglers there. I met so many amazing friends and so many new friends. It was a great 3 days and yet, it wasn’t enough time to take it all in. To me, my highlight was getting to talk with Elite Angler John Crews again. I get to talk about his baits, the ones he designed for SPRO and the ones he created for his company, Missile Baits. Every time I get to learn more and improve my abilities. I am looking forward to the 2020 Expo January 17-19 at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell with even more excitement. Hope to you there.

The East Tennessee Fishing Expo in Knoxsville, TN was the next adventure. I went with Tiffany Risch, Jacob Stephens and Jeff Swain. We got to meet a lot of great companies and see some amazing new products. I got to some products for reviews and some products that weren’t new, but new to me and to most people in Virginia. We had a lot of fun and shared in a new adventure. I don’t know what was more fun, the time at the show, or the ride there and back. Friends make a long trip short.

Then it was The Great American Outdoor Expo up in Harrisonburg, PA with Jacob and Tiffany. We got taken off our route in the snow and even went through a covered bridge on the way up, but that made it even more exciting. While they had a lot of exhibitors, enough to fill 5 main halls and I got to see a great friend from high school, their fishing exhibitors were far below what we expected. But, as far as hunting, it was far above anything you might expect. From the local to the world, they had it all. If they decide to expand their fishing, it will be worth another visit

I followed up these shows with a visit to the Bassmaster Classic in Knoxsville, TN in March with The Bass Cast. I got to talk with all the anglers competing in the Classic on Media Day. I also got to be back stage after they weighed in each day and talk about how the day went and what they used. Some were glad to share, others were a little closed lip on exact baits. That is fully understood and expected. I got views that fans don’t really get to see. I also got to attend the Expo there and talk to a lot of the exhibitors. I got to meet a lot of great anglers there, including Mr. Bill Dance. This year is the 50th Classic and Guntersville, Alabama is going to an exciting place to be. Can’t wait to see what they have in store for the fans. And to meet so many friends from across America.

This was the first year for the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour with their every legal fish counts, catch and release format. It was also the first year of the big exodus from the ranks of BASS, some of them being big names on the Elite Tour. And yes, they do have a big following which helped influx the BPT numbers. The BPT took over the FLW after the final event and created a feeder program with the FLW Tour now a stepping stone to the big tour. It also reduced the entry fees for the Costa and BFL Tournaments and also set up other changes for 2020. We all await to see how it turns out. We also had the first 2 anglers to leave the new tour and return to the Elites. What will happen after this season and next? Only time will tell.

The BASS Elites survived this year and actually seemed to strengthened itself with some fresh new blood. There were a lot of exciting events, with huge weights. The St. John’s River went above itself this year, yielding some big bass for the anglers. The site of John Crews almost losing his rod on a huge bass will live on forever. And the Angler of the Year came down to the last event with many still having a chance to win it all.

While the shows and expos were very exciting, it was finding new products to review for you that was one of the best things. Sometimes it made me look at how I fished and challenged me to try new ways. It gave me the opportunity to tell you what I thought about an item and it also hopefully helped you by making you see something new. I know because of my testing I have expanded my fishing and have been working on things I never thought I would be doing. Like fishing a drop shot, something I had never done, but Missile Baits challenged me with their Ned Bomb, and now I am working on making it something I can use to catch more bass. Hopefully you had the opportunity to expand your techniques as well.

I also got to go fishing a lot with my grandson Bentley. Sometimes they were short trips, but they were always a great adventure. I learned early that kids don’t always want to fish as long as we do. And when the fishing is slow, they lose interest fast. I never plan anything long with him, just let him decide when we leave. This year he got his first baitcaster for Christmas and now I need to work with him on how to use it and make some more amazing memories.

As I look back over 2019, I think about those amazing memories and just how much my family and friends have meant to me. I look back at a year that started off with great hopes and dreams, and I see now a year that went above and beyond what I envisioned. What will 2020 hold for us? What will happen in the fishing industry? What will be the newest baits and fishing accessories this year? What memories will we make? Who will you make them with? What adventures will we go on? What are your fishing goals for the new year? What are you looking forward to in 2020? Are you ready for them? I’m ready!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Have a very Happy New Year. I thought that Snookie might be your granddaughter. That clears that up.

    • Thank you brother Bruce. Hope you have a truly amazing and blessed 2020. No, she is a truly amazing best friend. I didn’t start that early on my family. 😂

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