“This is kind of like having NASCAR in your own backyard,” said Kylie Burton while watching her two grandsons finish their third trip around the brightly wrapped truck and bass boat. “There’s a boat everywhere we go and it is exciting!”

Bassmaster pros from all over the country have not only been on the river every day, but towing their rigs between the City Boat Ramp and local hotels as well.Every stop at a restaurant, grocery store or gas station immediately draws a crowd.The Bassmaster Open kicks off Thursday morning and the entire area is on high standby.

My enthusiasm took a bit of a hit, however, when I exited a restaurant last Friday evening only to discover that a visiting pro had parked behind three vehicles including mine.“I bet I can guess who owns this rig,” I assured the folks waiting to leave. “I’ll go back inside and ask him to move his rig a little.”

As it turned out, blocking other folks in wasn’t some inconsiderate act on the part of the pro.“I apologize,” said our visiting angler.“I called in an order thinking I could just run in and pick it up.It has taken them a lot longer than they said it would.”

As it turned out, the restaurant should have paid for his meal.No sooner had he moved his truck than he found himself surrounded by well-wishers and autograph seekers.I think everyone in the parking lot had two cell phones. Nothing like a cold supper after a hard day on the water!”

The massive field will consist of nearly four hundred pro anglers and co- anglers split almost right down the middle.Aside from winning first place, the money will hardly pay expenses for the majority of the field, but that isn’t the number one reason they fish these Opens anyway.

The pot at the end of the rainbow is earning an invitation to fish the Bassmaster Classic.Everything about the three day event is both exciting and entertaining.A big crowd gathers to watch the blast off each morning, the 3:00 p.m. weigh-ins attract massive crowds and there is live entertainment both Friday and Saturday night.

It was a classic example of the old “That’s bad…no that’s good” description of an event.I know of no other angler in this area more actively involved and concerned with the CCA than Jim Meadows.Therefore, it was only right that he was selected to head up the recent live release of five tagged redfish in Sabine Lake.

I personally thought it was very fitting that a local television station decided to film and interview Meadows as he prepared to leave the launch.It was all going as planned until the reporter was not satisfied with simply showing the tagged fish in the live well.

“Can you hold up one of those fish,” he asked Meadows.With that, he dipped one out with a small net only to have it flounce out and escape over the back deck.The live release was indeed successful, but not exactly as planned.The reporter immediately stated something to the effect of “I think I know a good place to fish.”

A week or so later, Ryan Pyburn of Beaumont and his four year old son were fishing that area when he caught the fumbled fish.Pyburn was wise enough to not only fish that particular area but sign up for the S.T.A.R. tournament as well.That one fish will earn him a new boat, motor and pickup truck!

“I fish off this bulkhead almost every afternoon after work,” said Paul Sanchez “I went and signed up for S.T.A.R. and I was never so excited about every cast until that fish was caught.It makes every trip a whole lot more fun when you think you really have a chance to win a great prize with every cast.”

“Mr. Meadows turned loose four more somewhere in the lake, added Sanchez, “so I still have a chance.My kids and I catch a lot of gafftop, flounder and sheepshead also and they could luck out and win a lot of college money.”

As a rule, you have to be both lucky and on top of your game with artificials or live croaker to catch a winning trout, but a little bit of live bait and a whole lot of luck is all that is necessary to catch any one of the other designated species.

I watched the entire happening on television and knowing Jim Meadows as well as I do, I am still not convinced that the fumble was an accident!