Recently, I had the opportunity to serve as a Bassmaster Marshal for the Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier. It was an opportunity unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in bass fishing. Whether you’re a B.A.S.S. member that wants to experience the Bassmaster Elite Series up close and personal or a tournament angler that wants to fine-tune your craft by observing the best anglers in the world, I highly recommend taking advantage of this unique opportunity to serve as a Marshal for an Elite Series event.
Think about it… What other professional sport can you have a front row seat to an athlete on the job working his/her craft and you get to closely observe and play an important role in the action?
I have enjoyed fishing my entire life. I grew up fishing with my grandfather, my father and my friends; however, I have never had the desire to tournament fish although I am more passionate about bass fishing now than at any point in my life. I am a B.A.S.S. Life Member and faithfully read Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times when they arrive at home. I make an effort to schedule my work around Bassmaster LIVE during Elite Series events, and I am still trying to “beat Ronnie Moore” in Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing. I’d probably fit your standard definition of a B.A.S.S. nerd, and yet I thirst for even more.
During the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Season, I remember watching Bassmaster LIVE during a late-season event. I heard the team of Ronnie Moore, Mike Suchan, Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders discussing in studio that not every Elite Series angler on the water that particular day had a Marshal with him. Therefore, the BASSTrakk numbers online were not accurate.
What? Not enough Marshals? I was floored. I figured a front row seat to the Bassmaster Elite Series would have included a waiting list much like Green Bay Packer football tickets. I remember thinking right then and there, "I am going to serve as a Marshal for the Bassmaster Elite Series."
Sometime back in late October/early November, just before Marshal Registration opened, I looked at the Elite Series schedule, compared it to my work schedule and factored in the logistics of travel. I was able to determine that my best opportunity to Marshal would be the Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier. I went online and submitted my information and officially registered to be a Bassmaster Elite Series Marshal. I was pumped.
My wife was supportive from the beginning. I explained to her what the role of the Marshal was on the Elite Series, and she looked at me and said, “Oh, you’ll be perfect for that job! You have lots of experience being in a boat and not being able to catch fish.” I was happy to oblige her attempt at humor, particularly since the Elite Series at Lake Lanier took place over Valentine’s Day, and she gave me her blessing to be away from home.
The great folks at B.A.S.S. make sure you are well informed and prepared for the process of being a Marshal. The communication in preparation of the event was thorough and well organized. You have a waiver to sign as well as a form to sign stating that you have read and understand the rules of the Bassmaster Elite Series. You receive an email in advance regarding the BASSTrakk app which you are asked to load onto your mobile device prior to the meeting. Reading and understanding the Elite Series rules are a fairly simple process, but it does place a responsibility on you as a Marshal that you feel a sense of: “I don’t want to let anyone down or make any mistakes that would negatively affect the outcome of the event or an angler’s livelihood.”
They even send you a checklist of essentials to pack and bring with you. I certainly didn’t need the recommended sunscreen, but I did make sure to pack my Carhartt “Storm Defender” rainsuits and Costa sunglasses. Please note that the great folks at Carhartt make something for every element and condition, but you need to pack them in order to experience their high level performance. I somehow managed to leave my gloves at home which proved to be a rookie mistake. On the other hand, I did manage to pick up a face shield and made sure that I had a portable battery pack - fully charged - to have with me in the boat to ensure that I maintained a fully charged cellular device at all times.
When I arrived at the registration and meeting venue on Wednesday and walked inside, the reception was very welcoming. I was greeted by the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament Staff. I turned in my signed waiver and rules sheet, received my Marshal shirt and hat and each member of the staff expressed their appreciation for my willingness to serve as a Marshal for the event. The prized possession of the week, the coveted blue trophy, was placed at the end of the table for everyone to see, touch and take pictures of as they passed by. Next, I was greeted by Trip Weldon, Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament Director. That was really cool because Trip Weldon has handled more bass than anyone currently on the planet.