db: B.A.S.S. Nation memories


All photos Don Barone

“There are places I'll remember…” 

Dateline: Pickwick Lake 2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship

“God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.”
J. M. Barrie 

It has always been my favorite gig, this B.A.S.S. Nation Championship Tournament stuff.

Sure, Elite events are cool, the Classic is showbiz, but the Nation gigs, especially the Championship, real world, real people, real dreams.

And laid back.

Egos checked at the door.

Last week those competing here were plumbers, carpenters, truck drivers, insurance guys, this week they are vying for a berth in the Bassmaster Classic, next week they will be plumbers, carpenters, truck drivers and insurance guys.

Reality suspended for one week in November.

At this tournament no one forgets from whence they have come because next week they go back to it.

That’s what I love about it, when I look into the eyes of those who are competing here I know that all of them will remember this week for a long, long, long time.

Nation memories. 

“…all my life, though some have changed…”

I remember the first time I was asked to, “Go cover the Nation event please…” to which I replied, “Really what nation do I have to go to?”

There was silence down there in the worldwide headquarters of B.A.S.S.

“…I’m not sure if my passport is up to date.”

I was in my second year of a three-year deal, it’s the safe year to be stupid.

“It’s in Florida, on the Harris Chain.” 

“Oh, huh, chain of what?" 

“Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quickly you can hardly catch it going.”
Tennessee Williams

It was 2009 October, Florida, when I walked into a hotel banquet room and came face to face with this thing called a “Nation."

I don’t know how many of those “Nation” faces there were but they were looking at me in about the same way I was looking at them with the universal look of, “What the hell is this?” 

I didn’t know any of them, not a one, so I just sort of smiled, they sort of smiled back, and then I went and stood in the back of the big room leaning up against those room divider things that move when you lean against them.

Truthfully had the dividers opened even a slight bit I would have squeezed through it and left, but then I started noticing something, the back of their jerseys.