Inside BASS: Hottest Rig Contest was Fun for Elite Pros
Even before the winner was announced last weekend at the Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts in Charlotte, the finalists in the Hottest Rig Running Contest were thoroughly enjoying their status. The Hottest Rig Running Contest on http://www.Bassmaster.com was a fun competition, giving exposure to the creative boat designs in the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series and involving BASS fans like never before. The fans voted for the winner that put some extra cash in the pockets of the five winners.
California’s Mike Reynolds proved to be the fan favorite. His Champion boat is wrapped with the theme “These Colors Don’t Run” as a tribute to the American armed forces and was a season-long attention-getter in the Series.
“I’m kind of humbled by it because I know the fans voted for me. It’s pretty neat,” said Reynolds, who was awarded $10,000 cash. “I know I had the military voting for me some because I had the military-tribute boat.”
Ironically, Reynolds’ wrap design was born partly out of frustration. Unable to get a title sponsor this year, he was sitting in a duck blind when the idea hit him.
“I decided to support the people that actually allow me to live my dream,” Reynolds said. “And not just the men and women that are in the armed services right now. It’s for the veterans and the families.”
The personable pro plans to carry the same theme into the 2007 Elite Series season. “I’ll definitely do it again next year. It’s tough because I need a big sponsor (to compete) in this sport. But I will somehow incorporate the military into my boat wrap even if I get lucky and get a big sponsor.”
All-time great pro Rick Clunn’s Nitro boat wrap was the runner-up, earning him $6,000. The design incorporates a realistic outdoors setting with a prominent bald eagle.
“(The contest) is one of the neatest things BASS has done to help us promote our boats,” he said. “It’s kind of like one of us old guys winning a beauty contest.”
Ohio pro Charlie Hartley finished third with his unique wrap promoting Venom Lures and his own sign company, Signcom, Inc.
“Isn’t that flattering?” he said, when told his boat was a finalist. “Cash is cash. If I can’t win any catching fish, I’ll win some that way.
New Jersey’s Mike Iaconelli, a member of Team Toyota and the fourth runner-up, had considerable input into his wrap design.
“It has some of my branding built in,” he said, referring to the shark teeth and eye at the front of the boat. According to Iaconelli, the Elite Series pros had considerable fun with the Hottest Rig Contest this season.
“It was a great way to get the fans involved and bring fans into the sport. And I’m all for getting new people involved in the sport.”
PERFECT JOB. When Mary Hencken started getting serious about a career in tournament fishing in 1999, she realized it would require a change of jobs. So the North Carolina angler left her physical therapist's assistant position and went to work for the Bass Pro Shops in Concord.
Hencken’s job provides her with a flexible schedule to compete in local tournaments, as well as the Mercury Marine Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats.
She competed close to home in last week’s WBT event on nearby Lake Norman, finishing in 15th place with 8-1.
WRAP RAP. Jarrett Edward’s colorfully wrapped Triton boat shows you where the bass are. Literally.
The Arizona pro’s boat resembles the screen of a Lowrance color depthfinder. It even shows the telltale arches of some giant bass.
“I’m really excited to be running a Lowrance wrap,” said Edwards, a depth finder expert. “They make great products and I’ve used them for years.”
WEIRDEST CATCH. Of all of the “weirdest catch” stories, possibly the most fascinating belongs to Charlie Hartley.
Hartley was fishing in a BASS tournament on Lake Erie a few years ago when he lost a brand new rod-and-reel overboard.
“I was fishing offshore when I lost it that morning,” the Elite Series competitor recalled. “I ran to some different areas to fish and came back to that spot with about 10 minutes to go.
“I was a dragging a tube on the bottom when I felt something. I set the hook and told my partner to get the net before I saw I had hooked the rod and reel I had lost. I was tickled to death. There were a lot of boats around me when I caught it, and I was jumping up and down so much they thought I had caught the big bass of the tournament, but all I had caught was my rod and reel.”
NICE RIDE. Sheri Glasgow, a Mercury Marine Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats angler, is forming a strange connection with BASS sponsor Toyota.
The Oklahoman, who is leading the Toyota Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year standings, has fished out of the Toyota boat in all three of the women’s events on the final day. She was randomly assigned the boat the first two times and then requested it on the third. “I think it’s bringing me good luck,” said Glasgow.
Glasgow has finished in second place twice and in fourth place at the most recent event on Lake Norman in North Carolina. She said while she’d like to throw a first-place win into the mix, she’s more concerned about staying consistent in the five-event tour.
Should she come out on top in the Angler of the Year standings, Glasgow will get a 2007 Toyota Tundra. “I go into every tournament thinking I can win,” she said.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO. . . Japanese pro Yusuke Miyazaki would likely be enjoying a lucrative career in the international financial world. “That’s what my major is in and I used to work in that kind of stuff,” the Elite Series pro said. “If I’m not fishing in the future, I’ll probably do importing and exporting.”
THEY SAID IT. “A year ago, I couldn't drive a boat. I'm proving a lot to women who think they can't do it. I'm proof you can start at the bottom rung and work your way up.” WBT pro Michelle Armstrong told the Charlotte Observer that she encourages other female anglers to try their favorite sport at the highest level.
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