Elite Series Launched Amistad Land Rush
When the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series opened in grand fashion with a memorable big-bass slugfest on Lake Amistad, the fishing world was awakened to one of America's best and most under-publicized fisheries.
No one became more infatuated with the big lake on the Texas-Mexico border than the Elite Series pros. In fact, their experience there in March launched a land rush of sorts in the Del Rio area.
Several pros decided to make Lake Amistad and Del Rio their future home. And more are considering following suit.
Byron Velvick, Skeet Reese, Charlie Weyer and Gerald Swindle are among the pros who recently purchased property with a lake view.
"My tournament (performance) didn't reflect it, but I fell in love with the whole place during pre-fish," said Velvick, who bought a house and 3.5 acres of land in the same subdivision as Swindle and Reese. "Mary and I fell in love with it and decided to change our home (from Tampa).
"I've never been so inspired before. I mean, you travel all over the country, you fish, then you go home. After going there, even for practice, I thought maybe this could be our new home."
Velvick's fiancée Mary Delgado, whom he met on ABC's The Bachelor, is in the process of securing a Texas real estate license to help other pros locate and purchase land.
"A lot of other (pros) already talked to her about it," Velvick said. "Swindle has said that he'd like 900 to 1,000 acres. He is interested in retiring there. He loved it like I did. Marty Stone wants land there and Ken Cook came over and we talked about land there. I know some other guys have bought there."
Although he plans to continue to live in northern California, Reese purchased two lots in the same division as Velvick.
"What I'm going to do with them, I have no idea," he said. "I love the area. It's a cool lake. It kind of reminds me of the desert and I love the desert.
"I might wind up building a house on one lot and selling it. And then building another house on the other and keeping it. Who knows? I thought it was a good investment and I love the area, so I spent a little money."
Both Velvick and Reese believe the remote 67,000-acre lake has a bright future and neither foresees a decline in its tremendous bass fishing.
"The lake is unbelievable," Reese said. "I don't think it really, truly showed its best colors while we were there. I think there's a lot more potential than what we saw. If we ever go back there when the time is right, we will truly break every record. And they could possibly never get broken again."
REMEMBERING A LEGEND. Countless fishing fans have seen photos or watched the video of Peter Thliveros, winner of the first Bassmaster Major, hoisting the beautiful Bassmaster Memorial trophy above his head.
But they likely couldn't read what was on that trophy, which also included a photo. The inscription reads:
"Don Butler was the first member and first life member of B.A.S.S. His personal and financial support of the fledging organization helped to guarantee its success and the success of the burgeoning bass fishing industry. In 1972, Butler won the second Bassmaster Classic on Tennessee's Percy Priest Reservoir."
BASS dedicated the Bassmaster Memorial in honor of Butler and also has plans to commemorate Bryan Kerchal - the first Federation Nation member to win the Bassmaster Classic - at the Bassmaster American in July and BASS founder Ray Scott at the Bassmaster Legends in August.
PITCHING IN. The anglers on the CITGO Bassmaster circuits aren't the only pros who volunteer their time for charitable purposes.
Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats pro Kimberlee Striker recently volunteered to assist with a fishing rodeo for kids at Chilshaven, a foster care facility, in her hometown of Cullman, Ala.
"They are from abused homes and they have young, unwed mothers with babies. This is one of only three places in the state that accepts young mothers," she said. "I got Shakespeare Fishing Tackle and Minn Kota/Humminbird to donate rods and fishing line and hats for the kids. We had close to 50 participating. They had a big cookout at a private lake and had homemade ice cream. I got to help some of them learn how to cast and catch fish. It was a huge success and fun was had by all."
WRAP RAP. Veteran Mississippi pro Paul Elias' wrapped boat for the Elite Series promotes a personal labor of love - indepthfishinglessons.com.
That's the former CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion's unique new business.
"I've been thinking about it over the years," he said, "I live on a 700-acre private lake. It's just an awesome deep-water lake. I feel that there are a lot of good shallow-water fishermen out there that don't know how to fish deep. I'm calling it In Depth Fishing Lessons, and I'm going to start trying to teach people how to read depth finders, what kind of structure to look for, the baitfish, the whole works."
Lodging is available when booking two days of lessons or more. Besides benefiting from Elias' personal instruction, the big draw is the lake, which surrendered a 14-pound-plus bass to Elias last year.
"I believe it's one of the best lakes in the South," he said. "It's a timber lake. It doesn't have any grass in it. It's got a lot of deep water in it and a lot of big fish. I've caught 41 fish over 10 pounds out of it."
ANOTHER HOT RIG. Fishing fans are continuing to vote in the Hottest Rig Running contest on http://www.Bassmaster.com. Last week, Ish Monroe of California racked up the most votes for his Lowrance Electronics boat design, just edging Mark Menendez of Kentucky. Monroe earned a spot in the final round of voting, July 10-16, while Menendez will go into a second-chance round July 3-9. This week, fans couldn't get enough of Skeet Reese's Lucky Craft wrap. He surpassed the other anglers after taking in 26.6 percent of all votes. Jason Quinn was the runner-up. They too will advance to the final and second-chance rounds of voting.
WEIRDEST CATCH. Winner of more than 50 prize boats and vehicles, Dave Gliebe is nothing short of a legend on the West Coast bass scene. But his weirdest catch occurred after his recent relocation to Benton, Ky.
"I caught a rod and reel on Kentucky Lake my first day on the lake," the Elite Series pro recalled. "I threw out, got hung up in a brushpile and when I pulled it loose, there was a brand new Pflueger Supreme rod and reel. It hadn't been in there very long. In fact, I didn't even have to clean it."
DID YOU KNOW? Here's a trivia question supplied by Harold Sharp, the first BASS tournament director: "Who was the winner of the first BASS tournament? The answer is Carl Dyess, but this is a trick question. BASS was not organized until January of 1968. The two events Ray (Scott) had before that were won by Stan Sloan and Gerald Blanchard."
PRO BIRTHDAYS Michael Iaconelli of New Jersey and Chad Brauer of Missouri both turn 34 on June 17 and 19, respectively.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO Elite Series competitor Brad Hallman would likely still be working as a plumber in Norman, Okla., his previous occupation of 11 years. "I like this a little bit better," he said, smiling.
THEY SAID IT. "In my first BASS tournament in 1982, I asked Ray Scott if this was any way for a man to make a living. I made $2,500 in that first tournament, and it was just as important to me then as this win is today." Peter Thliveros, winner of the first Bassmaster Major, who pocketed $250,000 and joined the BASS millionaires club. News exclusives, audio and video clips of bass fishing's biggest stars, loads of discounts and more are all part of BASS Insider, an exclusive membership, now available at http://www.bassmaster.com.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation 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 bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO 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 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, call 1-877-BASS-USA or visit http://www.bassmaster.com.
Source: bassmaster.com (2006-05-31)
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