KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ‑ Ray Hanselman might be the most grateful angler competing in the Bassmaster Elite at the Tennessee River. To say Hanselman has been through the wringer over the past two weeks would be an understatement.
His adventure through adversity began on the way to the Elite Series opener at Florida’s St. Johns River. The 47-year-old, Del Rio, Texas, angler got a tankful of bad gasoline in Louisiana. It brought his pickup truck to a halt. Hanselman’s hometown dealership, Brown’s Automotive, sent him a used truck to get him to Florida, and Hanselman ordered a new ¾-ton Chevy that would be awaiting his return. That would turn out to be a blessing.
Hanselman didn’t have a good start to his season, finishing 90th and missing the two-day cut at the St. Johns River. That, too, would be a blessing. Hanselman was watching the weather closely. He knew he had a short window in which to get back to Del Rio – a 19-hour drive. He got up at 2 a.m. Saturday and drove it straight through.
“I made it by the skin of my teeth,” Hanselman said. “In a couple more hours, the roads would have been impassable.”
Over the next couple of days more than a foot of snow fell in Del Rio, which is located 150 miles southwest of San Antonio, near Lake Amistad, located on the U.S./Mexico border. The temperatures plummeted below freezing and stayed there.
“The whole town turned into El Salvador in 24 hours,” said Hanselman, noting the run on supplies at grocery stores and gas stations, plus rolling electricity blackouts. “Even the stuff that nobody ever buys was gone in the grocery stores.”
Hanselman, his wife, Misty, and their two children were fine. The next problem facing Hanselman was getting to Knoxville in time for practice to begin on the Tennessee River Sunday. No gas, no travel.
However, when you buy a new truck at Brown’s Automotive, it comes with a full tank of gas. For insurance, Hanselman siphoned a couple of five-gallon cans from a Bay boat he owns. That was enough to get him past San Antonio and the no-gasoline zone. It was smooth sailing into Knoxville from there.
“I didn’t think this was going to happen,” Hanselman said. “The whole state of Texas was crippled.”
So, yeah, Ray Hanselman has a lot to be grateful for as this tournament begins. Adversity tends to help you count your blessings. He’s back on the water competing in a bass tournament, doing what he loves to do, after a long, trying two weeks.