“Some Serious Fishing”
I glanced over at the boat basin from the bypass in Bainbridge and was stunned at the number of cars that were seemingly parked in every direction. “Are all these people here to watch people weigh in their fish?” I thought to myself. The answer was a resounding yes and more.
As a major sponsor of the Bassmaster Elite Series kickoff tournament held this past weekend on Lake Seminole, I must admit that I had to do a little research before I would agree to commit some significant dollars to this project. What I found out surprised me.
Perhaps my initial thoughts were somewhat influenced by the way I learned to fish growing up. The waters of Compass Lake are fed by springs, resulting in crystal clear water and clean tasting fish. We have always had a dock that had a least a couple of hammocks under a roof that provided shade no matter the time of day.
There were some strategically placed pole and rod holders so that you could put out your bait and then get in the hammock to wait for the fish to bite. Inevitably, the breeze, heat and lapping water would put you to sleep. Just before drifting your last thoughts would be, “I hope a fish doesn’t bite”.
That sort of laid back approach to catching supper was nowhere to be found at this tournament. Millions of dollars of flashy boats lined the basin. Most had a matching truck touting the many sponsors that make this a professional sport for these guys.
More is at stake than what will be on the table that evening. The top 50 anglers all received at least $10,000. The winner proudly took home a check for $100,000. That is enough to get you out of the hammock and do some serious fishing.
Fishing shows are the 12th most watched sporting event in Hardee’s target demographic. I must admit that I have only watched these shows briefly while channel surfing. I probably put them in the same class as watching bowling or gardening shows.
However, there was a huge amount of energy in Bainbridge on Sunday. Bassmaster and ESPN combine to make this a professional event of the highest quality. Universally, the competitors praised Lake Seminole and most held up some quality fish.
And believe it or not, watching people weigh in their fish was exciting. The crowd yelled and cheered the fishermen like they were rock stars. The crowd numbered in the thousands.
Despite the dangerous weather on Sunday which caused the final day of activities to be cancelled, the tournament was a resounding success. My hat is off to those community leaders that made this event happen. It showcased some of the best that Southwest Georgia has to offer.
I’ll certainly be watching some fishing shows in the future. I just hope I can get some good reception from that hammock.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org