Fans watch the weigh-ins Saturday afternoon during the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at the Green Bay Metropolitan Boat Launch in Green Bay. / Evan Siegle/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
Imagine going to a Green Bay Packers game, paying nothing for a ticket and then getting advice from Donald Driver on how to better run a slant route.
Ron Benjamin of Green Bay got to experience the fishing equivalent of that on Saturday, watching as 50 of the world’s best angling professionals continued their quest to see who could land the most bass by weight in the four-day Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament.
“You get to get up close to your fishing heroes, the guys you’ve been watching for years on the cable shows” said Benjamin, a west side resident who calls himself an avid bass fisherman. “You can talk with them face to face and they’ll give you tips on fishing.”
Fans who attended an expo Saturday at the Green Bay Metropolitan Boat Launch got to rub elbows with their heroes, visit displays where they could learn about fishing gear from boats to shoes, take brief boat rides on the lower bay of Green Bay, watch tournament highlights on a giant video board, collect autographs and try their hands at a casting display.
“They just have real personalities, real down to earth,” said Jeff Weatherwax of Maplewood, who runs a fishing guide service out of Sturgeon Bay.
Saturday’s event was important for competitors as well. The field, which had been narrowed from 98 to 50 before the day’s events, was cut to 12 competitors who will fish today for their share of $600,000 in prizes. The others will have talk about the one that got away.
Cody Renikow, 13, of Wausaukee visited the expo Saturday afternoon with his dad, Carl. They were between sessions of a Green Bay baseball tournament in which Cody’s Marinette team was 2-0, but the teen seemed more excited about the chance to see Californian Skeet Reese and some of his other favorite fishermen.
Reese did not make the finals this week, but Cody was still excited by the possibility of seeing him.
“He’s kind of my favorite,” Cody said of the Californian who has more than $2.5 million in career earnings and was the champion of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. “When he brings in a big one, he gets all wild.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PGDougSchneider