'I’m Mark Menendez'

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James Overstreet

I’m Mark Menendez, a proud Bassmaster Elite Series angler. I’ve fished B.A.S.S. professionally for more than 20 years. I have 231 tournaments under my belt and three professional wins. Along with that I’ve fished five Bassmaster Classics and won over $1 million in prize money. 

B.A.S.S. has given me the honor of posting two columns a month on this site. We’ll start with my telling you a little something about me so you’ll know who I am and where I’m coming from when you read future columns. 

I’m 54 years old and have lived all of my life in the Paducah and Murray, Ky., area. If I have a home lake, it’s Kentucky Lake. It’s where I fished as a kid with my grandparents and our neighbors. I still fish it today when I’m not on the road fishing or filming.  

I first learned to fish with a wonderful man named Clyde Watts. He took me out on the lake to fish almost every weekend for four years. That’s when I first learned about patterns and that fish were not scattered at random all over the lake. Clyde taught me that they were in specific locations on any given season or day. 

Sometime after that I fished local tournaments with a man named David Hutcheson. That’s how I first learned to fish on the clock and to make tournament-type decisions about how to make the best use of my time, and that’s what a bass tournament is really all about. 

While all of this was going on I attended a local junior college, eventually graduated and moved to  Murray State University where I earned a degree in fisheries biology. 

You’re going to hear a lot about what I learned in the classroom as this column moves along from month to month. Textbooks might not be able to replace real-world experience but they can, and do, enhance it. Education matters. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise and don’t think for one minute that reading a book is a waste of your time. 

In the fishing area, intellectual knowledge — book learning — gives you the foundation to better understand what you’re seeing and experiencing on the water. It puts you in a position to take advantage of those things.  

Anyway, about 12 years ago I married my second grade sweetheart, Donna. We hadn’t seen each other for years after we graduated from high school, but when I was in an airport in St. Louis she tapped me on the shoulder and said "hi!" It was full steam ahead from that moment on. 

We married and had two kids, Caroline and Max. On March 25, 2014, Donna passed away from pancreatic cancer. About all I can say at this point is that I didn’t get much quantity out of my marriage, but I sure as heck got quality. For that I will be forever grateful.    

Now, about future columns: The next one is about offshore fishing. A lot of anglers think it’s a fearsome deal to be sitting in a boat with no shoreline in front of you. But, I have a way of looking at that that’ll make fishing open water understandable and productive. 

Another topic I want to tackle is that of a shell bed. They’re not just in Kentucky Lake. We’ll talk about how they’re made, why they’re made and what makes them so productive. And, when we’re done you’ll never again curse a drum.

One last thing: My goal is to help everyone catch more bass. If you have questions, post them in the comments under the column. I’ll do my best to answer them.

That’s all there is for now. In a couple of weeks we’ll start talking about going offshore.