Regardless of whether or not you even like to eat fish, there is no doubting the positive impact that the upcoming Bassmaster Elite tournament is already having on the entire community.In a word, the daily presence of the most notable bass fishermen in the world is “exciting”!

Not unlike golf, bass fishing in general is a life time sport enjoyed by youngsters from five to eighty-five years of age. While time inevitably erodes physical skills, the passion for bass fishing seldom if ever wanes, not only for the fishermen, but for folks that have simply been around the sport all of their lives. I dropped by my mother’s house Sunday afternoon and she’s watching the Bassmaster Classic on ESPN and asking about the difference in a black bass and a spotted bass!

The economic impact of the previous Bassmaster Elite visit exceeded even the most optimistic of expectations and with any break at all in the weather, we will see even larger crowds at this year’s weigh-ins. The anglers that make up the field are here on business and have been throughout the year, but at the same time, they do a phenomenal job of promoting the sport.

While scouting the local tributaries throughout the year, they still take the time to visit with folks at the gas pumps, restaurants, launching ramps and even while on the water. Every second is important to them when trying to establish a winning pattern, yet they still make the time to sign an autograph or at least in one case, help a senior citizen safely vacate a parking space in the pouring down rain.

And, while they are more inclined to meet and greet their legion of spectators at area businesses, several of them also somehow manage to squeeze in the time to speak at local functions and area churches as well. Defending champion, Todd Faircloth, packed out the First Baptist Church’s annual fish fry Saturday afternoon and for the first time ever, they had to limit ticket sales. “We sold all 350 tickets almost as soon as we announced that he would be our speaker for the dinner,” said Doug Patterson.

On a side note, at least one dad with three young sons stated on the way out, “I think he just doubled his fan base. I am especially happy that my boys now know that the right priorities are far more important than catching a fish and….that fried fish was as good as any I have ever eaten!”

Once the entire field arrives, any privacy off the water is enjoyed only by those that are staying in the homes of individuals that live in the area. While they may or may not be wearing their sponsors’ jerseys, their wrapped trucks and boats are still virtual magnets for adoring fans of the sport. Make no mistake about it, mobile advertisement pays the bills, but it makes focusing on the task at hand no less challenging. Longevity at the top of the sport is all about winning and catching bass is still their number one priority.

I am also amazed by the number of local spectators truly convinced that they made a friend for life after visiting only a few minutes with any one of the pros two years ago. That says a great deal for the affable pros, but at the same time, the adulation can result in logistical problems for them as well.

Without mentioning names, two years ago I was asked to pick up the chicken for one pro every time he came into scout after getting absolutely swamped at Chicken Express in Bridge City. If any of the pros dined at the same restaurant two nights in a row at approximately the same time, they quickly learned that it was wise to opt for a different cuisine the following night!

Two pros that significantly grew the size of their local fan base at the last Sabine River Elite event were Shaw Grigsby and Paul Elias and both of these pros will once again be speaking at the Orange CCA chapter membership drive meeting at 7:00 pm on March 16th .The meeting will be held at Robert’s Steak House at 3720 West Park in Orange.Everyone will be responsible for their own meal.

Door prizes and raffle tickets will also be available. For more information contact Louis Moore at 409-988-4845.

One final reminder prior to the entire Elite field of anglers arriving: As cordial as they are, they will quickly walk away should you feel the need to offer any information regarding fishing. It is “game on” for them and they are no longer allowed to solicit or entertain any outside information. Be courteous, respect their space and make plans to enjoy an incredible show!