Daily Limit: Trip believes in power of prayer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Prayers work. Ask Trip Weldon.

The longtime tournament director at B.A.S.S. professed the power of prayer during his induction speech at last month’s Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

“This time a year ago, many of you were praying for me. Mary and I want to thank you for those prayers,” said Weldon, whose post on leaving the Elite Series to battle Non-Hodgkins lymphoma elicited a lengthy prayer chain from anglers and fans.

Feeling strong and as if he were conducting another tournament briefing, Weldon asked the HOF crowd at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife to keep the prayers going for those affected by cancer, especially the family of longtime Elite Aaron Martens, who is fighting brain cancer.

With his deep, authoritative voice back to full strength, Weldon said he was grateful for all the well-wishers and to the hall for recognizing him.

“God has been good to me, really good,” he said. “Growing up in Montgomery, Ala., just two blocks from the original B.A.S.S. headquarters, never, ever did I dream I’d be standing on this stage at this level.”

Other than members of his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide football team, the heroes of Weldon’s youth were bass anglers: Rick Clunn, Roland Martin, Bill Dance, Larry Nixon, Ray Scott and Jerry McKinnis to name a few.

“All the people I saw on TV,” he said. “It is such an honor to share this hall with them.

“In interviews in recent years, I’ve been asked what I might remember or enjoy the most. And my answer is simple. In my time at B.A.S.S., I not only had the privilege of being around legends in this sport, but also had the pleasure of having a front row seat to see men become legends.”

Weldon spoke of family, thanking each for their role in his life. His late parents were recognized for introducing him into the outdoors lifestyle. He re-told the tale of when his second-grade teacher called on him to name the four seasons.

“Honest truth, I said, football, baseball, fishing and hunting,” said Weldon, drawing a big laugh. “Those were the seasons that mattered to me.”

Weldon choked up when addressing Mary, his wife of 38 years.

“I love you and I thank you for loving me and I thank you for being there at home and supporting me as I traveled across this country,” he said. “Many in this room know how hard wives work to hold down the home fort.”

There was similar love and pride in sons, Hank and Ben, and their wives Mallory and Abby, whom he called good Christian parents to his grandchildren. “Love those grandbabies,” he said.

A tournament angler himself, including wins on his beloved Lake Martin, Weldon started his 30-year career at B.A.S.S. in 1990 and became its third tournament director in 2002.

“I’ve had a lot of bosses,” he said, thanking each for their confidence in him and guidance, as well as all the staff he’s worked with through the years.

That includes son Hank, who’s following in dad’s footsteps at B.A.S.S. as youth director. Hank said he’s thoughtful of that path his father laid out.

“Growing up and watching him run tournaments and conduct himself, he’s always been about integrity and doing things the right way, and enforcing rules and running tournaments the right way,” Hank said. “That’s how I try to live my life, certainly apply that to tournaments that I’m lucky to be in charge of.

“I’m just glad now that the fishing industry has recognized that and seen that he’s deserving to be a Hall of Famer. He’s always been a Hall of Famer to me, but he certainly is in this sport.”

Weldon was truly touched to don the blue jacket of the hall and said he was blessed for his career. 

“It’s no secret I’ll always bleed the blue and gold of the B.A.S.S. shield,” Trip said. “The shield that has stood for so many things, conservation, clean water, grass roots, high school and college fishing, and in my world, fair competition.

“Big thank yous to the thousands of anglers that we dealt with over my 30 years — May not have always got it right but I dang sure tried.

“In closing, I want to say my biggest honor has been standing on the B.A.S.S. stage, the Bassmaster Classic stage, representing not only B.A.S.S. but this great sport we all love. I hope I said and did the right things. Remember this, none of us are bigger than the sport. Take care of it, honor it and when you leave it, make sure you leave it in a better place.”