Ricks Appointed to U.S. Department of Interior

Ricks Appointed to Council for U.S. Department of InteriorTom Ricks, vice president and general manager of BASS and ESPN Outdoors, has been appointed to the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, a panel created in 1993 to advise the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on sportfishing, boating and aquatic resource issues.

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne appointed Ricks, along with 23 others, for a two-year term that begins Nov. 8.

One of the council’s most significant recent achievements was its leadership in creating the groundbreaking National Fish Habitat Action Plan, a partnership-driven strategy to restore the nation’s fisheries.

The council also offers guidance to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, which it helped establish. The RBFF’s Take Me Fishing campaign is aimed at growing participation in the sport of fishing.

Chris Horton, conservation director of BASS, was also appointed as an alternate to the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council.

CLASSIC BROTHERS. Last week, when Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., qualified for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, he and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Lane became the third set of brothers to qualify for bass fishing’s premier event.

The first brothers to compete together in a Classic were Don and Tom Mann, in 1975. The second set of siblings, David and Kevin Johnson, competed in the 1980 Classic.

The 2008 Classic, Feb. 22-24 on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, will be the first for the Lane brothers. Chris, who also lives in Winter Haven, qualified last month by finishing among the top 36 in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race based on the Bassmaster Elite Series. On Oct. 20, Bobby finished third in the Southern Open points race to secure his Classic berth.

Bobby, 33, isn’t fazed by the idea of going head-to-head with his 32-year-old brother.

“That’s not a big deal,” Bobby said. “We’ve competed against each other before and we’ll do it again and again until the day we both die. We just love to fish — we were brought up fishing — and (the Classic) is a great opportunity to show ourselves how good we are.

“The Classic is the Super Bowl of all the tournaments, and the goal of my life has been to qualify for it one day, and today is that day,” Lane said moments after he learned he’d made it.

CONNELLA GIVES BACK. Jeff Connella of Bentley, La., gives his time and crowd-drawing name as a Bassmaster Elite Series pro to get more kids in Louisiana involved in outdoor sports.

For the past two years, Connella has volunteered to appear at Louisiana’s National Hunting and Fishing Day, this year on Sept. 22.

In 2005, the fledgling festival drew about 250 people. This year, thanks in part to Connella’s involvement, about 3,000 people turned out for the non-profit event at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ fish pond and shooting range in Woodworth.

“A lot of them remembered me from last year, and many had followed me this year on the Elites,” said Connella, adding that the kids told him they watched live, streaming video of Elite weigh-ins at http://www.ESPNOutdoors.com. “It was neat having these kids that you’ve met one time follow you throughout the year, and then get to see them again.”

Besides helping with the event’s catfish derby, Connella was the master of ceremonies this year and awarded prizes to the kids.

FROM VETERAN TO ROOKIE. A veteran competitor, Elite pro Charlie Hartley became a rookie of sorts Oct. 20 when he qualified for his first Bassmaster Classic.

Hartley won the Southern Open points race and one of three Classic berths awarded through that Open division.

But the 43-year-old from of Grove City, Ohio, already has Classic wisdom gleaned from his many years of competition — he competed in his first tournament when he was 8 years old.

“My main concern is I don’t get caught up in all the fanfare,” Hartley said. “The Classic is an incredible opportunity, and you hate to let that opportunity slip by, because it is a big, big deal. Classic contenders are treated differently, and you can get caught up in it.

“I’m pretty good at focusing. I try to stay away from the crowds and the talk — I really love talking to my fishing buddies — so I have to get away from them when the day is over and get to work on my tackle. I’ll try to stay away from the discussion of how the fish are biting — that always confuses me.

“I will do my usual routine: stay to myself and get all my work done. That’s the toughest part. People think the only hours invested are the tournament hours, but we invest an unbelievable amount of hours before and after each tournament day.”

NEAR MISS. “I’m very disappointed; I was hoping to make the Classic. I missed it by one spot. I fished really well this week, but I wasn’t around enough quality fish. The two guys behind me in the points finished in the top five. That’s the breaks.” — Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., at the Oct. 18-20 Southern Open season finale on Wheeler Lake, in which he finished 19th and dropped from third to fourth in the points standings

SWEET HOME ALABAMA. “It’s just nice to fish close to home and sleep in your own bed.” — Elite pro Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala., about 60 miles from Decatur, Ala., the site of the Wheeler Lake Southern Open, Oct. 18-20, where Swindle finished in 11th place

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit http://www.Bassmaster.com. Visit http://www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN’s latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, staging more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages and sanctions bass fishing tournaments for every skill level culminating with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry’s widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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