By all accounts, 70-year-old Guy Eaker is highly respected by his fellow Bassmaster Elite Series competitors. One of the nicknames they’ve given him is “The Senator.” They’re always quick to praise him but now, he also has their full attention.
Eaker is looking like a candidate for the Elite Series Postseason in July as well as for the Classic in February 2011. Only the top 12 in points will advance to the postseason; only the top 36 earn a Classic berth.
Last weekend Eaker ended in 44th place in the season’s third event. With that finish, combined with his even higher finishes (24th and 3rd) in the season’s first two events, he now occupies an impressive 7th place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
At the end of last season, Eaker said 2010 would be his final season, due to his wife’s health. But before he retires, he said, he wants to compete in one more Bassmaster Classic. The 10-time qualifier last competed in a Classic in 1992.
“So far, everything’s working out really well for me,” said Eaker, back at his Cherryville, N.C., home after the Evan Williams Bourbon Blue Ridge Brawl last week in Virginia.
He listed several reasons for his high AOY standing. One has to do with where the Elite series is stopping in 2010.
“Most of the lakes this year suit the way I fish,” he said. “I am a shallow-water fisherman. I don’t care a lot about fishing deep, but I can catch them deep. But I’d rather pick up a spinnerbait or flip or pitch, instead of drop-shotting or cranking deep or Carolina-rigging.”
He said he seems to have a renewed ability to focus.
“You sort of get into a zone where you’re fishing good, and everything’s going good, and you feel good,” he said. “I really feel like I’m on top of my fishing as far as being able to compete.”
His physical condition is great for 70, good for any age.
He neither wears nor needs corrective lenses. He is physically fit, thanks in part to a healthy diet that is a years-old habit. (He said the last time he tried to eat fried food, he felt sick.) He has a simple regime of floor exercises he follows daily, and he walks. He said he has no back problems.
“I had a couple of marshals (observers in his boat) this past week who said, ‘My gosh, I can’t believe how many casts you make in a day. You act like a 25-year-old. How do you stay in shape?’
“Well, I said to them, ‘Chunking and winding out of a boat for 35 years has a lot to do with it.’ “
MEET CAPT. CROCHET: Cliff Crochet, Bassmaster Elite Series rookie from Pierre Part, La., became Capt. Crochet for a day on his way to the April 15-18 Elite event on Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake.
Crochet volunteered himself and his boat for a youth tournament put on by the BASS Federation Nation of Virginia.
He hadn’t planned to spend a day on Claytor Lake with two kids. He had stopped in Max Meadows, Va., to visit a buddy, Jeff Freeman, whom Crochet met as a fellow competitor in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic. Freeman told Crochet of his plans to volunteer the next day. He asked Crochet to do the same, much to the delight of Joan Blankenship, president of the Virginia organization.
“We needed so many captains — we had 42 junior anglers — I was so glad he showed up,” Blankenship said. “He made my day. We let the junior anglers know right away Cliff was there, and they were excited to meet an Elite pro.”
Crochet said he was struck by the extent of the kids’ fishing knowledge.
“Even the younger ones can definitely talk the game. If you didn’t know how old they were, you’d think they were a bunch of older guys talking about fishing,” said Crochet, himself just 26.
The dedication of the anglers’ parents left an impression too.
“I was in law enforcement for eight years before I started fishing full time, and I saw some pretty horrible parents,” he said. “All those parents who got up early Sunday morning just for their kids were something.”
The event was a southern Virginia qualifier for the state’s youth championship. Victors at the state level move on to the Mid-Atlantic regional, which in turn is the qualifier for the national event, the BASS Junior Federation Nation Championship. The youth championship will be concurrent with the Oct. 25-29 BASS Federation Nation Championship out of Shreveport, La.
SYNERGY ON BOARD: Synergy Technologies of Shreveport, La., is the title sponsor of the fifth event of the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series.
The Synergy Southern Challenge will be May 6-9 on Lake Guntersville out of the northeastern Alabama city of Guntersville.
Synergy Technologies was also the official hand sanitizer of the 2010 Bassmaster Classic. The company’s sanitizer products are marketed under its Safe-T-Products division. Products include Safe-T-Cleanse gel, Safe-T-Net spray and Safe-T-Wipes.
Randy Allen, a 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series pro, founded Synergy about six years ago with antimicrobial products for industrial and food-processing markets, according to Ben Johnson, Synergy’s marketing director.
The hand sanitizer aspect of the company’s business started up in January. It is enjoying success in many markets, not just sportfishing, Johnson said.
“We’re committed to the fishing industry because we both grew up around fishing,” he said.
Information about the company is available at www.syntrx.com.
NEW CHALLENGERS: If the qualification race were to end now, the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason roster would read much differently than it did last year.
Leader Skeet Reese and Michael Iaconelli would be the only repeaters among the 12 qualifiers for last year’s inaugural postseason, the new format for the $200,000 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year competition.
There are five more events to go in the 2010 regular season, so much can change. The only given is that the same two Alabama fisheries will host this year’s postseason, July 24-31 on Lake Jordan and the Alabama River.
SOME UP, SOME DOWN: The current top 12 pros in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings are listed below. Each pro’s points total is after three of eight regular-season events. The notations in parentheses are a pro’s gain or loss of ground compared to his standing after two events.
Of the top 12, Dean Rojas made the biggest move. He improved by 16 places.
1. Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., 885 (held at 1st)
2. Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., 798 (held at 2nd)
3. Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 730 (up from 19th)
4. Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., 726 (up from 12th)
4. Dave Wolak of Wake Forest, N.C., 726 (up from 8th)
6. James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, 708 (up from 7th)
7. Guy Eaker of Cherryville, N.C., 704 (down from 3rd)
8. Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., 693 (up from 9th)
9. Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J., 681 (down from 5th)
10. Brian Snowden of Reeds Spring, Mo., 675 (up from 13th)
11. John Crews of Salem, Va., 673 (up from 21st)
12. Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Okla., 661 (up from 13th)
SKEET, FAR AND AWAY: “The only way I was going to run down Skeet was if he didn’t show up this morning.” — Terry Scroggins, who last Sunday was among those trounced by Skeet Reese’s 78-1 winning total at the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Smith Mountain Lake. Scroggins scored fourth with 61-5.