I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

• Classic & Expo: Day 3

While day 3 of the Classic was phenomenal, I need to get a few things out of the way first. Although it was exciting to hear that the attendance broke previous attendance records at over 100,000 people, it was a nightmare getting in and out of the CenturyTel. On day 1, doors opened at 3:30 as planned. On day 2, they opened earlier than expected. On day 3, the Dock Dogs guy announced doors were opening at 3pm, but they did not. The crowds outside in line were getting antsy. Maybe you caught the helicopter fly-over on ESPN2's coverage. We were down there standing in the sun for quite some time. Day 3 involved a lot more pushing and shoving than the two previous days. After the weigh in was over on day 3, it was another nightmare trying to escape the CenturyTel parking lot. I probably sat in my car waiting for cars to move an inch for at least 10 minutes. Not sure how the police were directing traffic, but the cars on my end did not budge for a long time. To top it all off, somebody put a dent in my rear bumper at some point during the weigh-in. Once I got out, it was an easy drive home. Now that I've covered the rough stuff, let's get down to business.

My day started off at the launch. I didn't go for day 1 or day 2, but waited for day 3 when the top 25 would be there. I watched everyone back their boats in. A few anglers stopped on the dock to pose for pictures and only a few were more interactive with the crowd. Lots of the anglers were strictly business. Skeet Reese stood on the dock doing that little jump he does with white ear bud headphones in his ears. I met a man who brought an oar with him with signatures all over it. He's going to burn in the words Bassmaster Classic onto the handle. Very cool. Shaw Grigsby came right up along the ropes to sign it for him. Then we had the anthem with a helicopter fly-over and moved on to the take off. Man those guys really put it down. I tried to shoot some video, but the chill in the air gave me the shivers. If I'm able to post the video, it might be a little shaky, but boy was it fun to watch those boats head out.

Let me talk about the expo next. I made most of my purchases on Sunday, but I forgot to buy hooks for the traps I picked up at the Bacon's booth. After that, I cruised the floor watching for more professional anglers. KVD and Rick Clunn were over by KVD's boat to raffle it off. Some guy from Morgan City, LA won it. Big congrats to that guy. Looked like a nice rig. I think he's gonna love it. After that, KVD and Clunn started signing autographs and posing for pics. Jimmy Houston walked right by me trying to squeeze his way through the crowd. He was shorter than I expected, but it was cool being face to face with the guy out of the blue like that. Bill Dance was also back for more signatures as was Kim Bain-Moore and a couple others.

The weigh in was fantastic. Keith Alan really tried to get the crowd pumped, but I think everyone just wanted to see the anglers. If someone broke the record weight for the Classic, he wanted us all to yell "Booyah." We worked our way up through the top 25 until we got to the top six. They all came out under sparkling pyrotechnics and smoke to stand before us. Then they all walked up on stage and Ike came into sit in the hot seat. The intensity by that point had grown and the crowd was really excited. Of course, we all know the results by now. Ike was about as courteous as he could be and I have a lot of respect for how he handled himself up against the competition. Pretty good guy if you ask me. Skeet Reese really deserved this win. Congrats to him. I was rooting for either guy, so I was happy with the results. Mayor Cedric Glover (D) was in the audience and Hank Parker took an audience member under his wing to prep for a $100,000 casting contest. The guy didn't win the contest, but he had some great Berkley consolation prizes, including a check for $5000. Not bad for being randomly picked from the crowd.

I might be back to edit things I forgot to mention. Again, photos are currently works in progress. I'll try and work on them tonight and tomorrow and post them to my Myspace photo album. Then I'll get working on some of the video. I have to compress them down so they will play nice with you guys on the web.

Photos are now available