For Murray, Elites Series a must

Murray wanted to be part of the Elite Series so badly that he is financing the $55,000-entry-fee investment. 

When it was time to make a final decision on what circuits he would compete in next year, it came down to one simple thought for John Murray.

The veteran Arizona pro could not stand the idea of the new CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series being held without him.

"I'm 41. It's not like I'm going to save up for the next few years and do it," Murray said. "I'm going to do it now. And I could always scale back in the next few years, but I might as well do it right now. I have nothing to wait for."

Murray wanted to be part of the Elite Series so badly that he is financing the $55,000-entry-fee investment. In fact, his wrapped boat will feature the logos of his three existing sponsors.

"Right now, my wrap is going to be Mercury, Ranger and Yamamoto," he explained. "It's all me. I'm going into (the Elite Series) to see what happens, to see if what was said is going to happen … the increased exposure and such. I feel I'm going to be right in line for a big sponsor as far as exposure because I'm driving farther than anybody. I'm coming from Arizona, so I'm going to be driving constantly for about a year."

Murray could rightfully be considered one of the sport's marathon men since he will also be competing on another tour at the same time.

"From March through July or August, my schedule's going to be pretty packed," he said. "I know I've probably bit off more than I can chew, but I want to see how they both go. You just don't know. I guess I'm kind of greedy. I want to see how they both work out."

Murray said he fished two tours last year, but got burned out. Despite the fatigue, he's trying again. He said he's especially excited about the Elite Series kickoff, the Battle on the Border on Lake Amistad in Texas, as well as Champion's Choice on New York's Lake Champlain in July, the Santee-Cooper Showdown on South Carolina's Santee-Cooper in March and the Southern Challenge on Alabama's Lake Guntersville in April.

"The fishing is going to be good," he said. "And you have a one-in-two chance of winning at least $10,000 in each tournament. If you're a competitive bass fisherman, I don't know how you don't go for those odds."

CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series events pay down 50 places, including $10,000 for 50th place.

Sneak preview

Although the new BASS Saturday lineup on ESPN2 for 2006 has not been announced, Inside BASS got a sneak preview at one of the shows.

Inside BASS — with no relation to this column — is a weekly series debuting Jan. 7 that literally navigates its way through the halls of BASS headquarters, uncovering and exploring the daily workings and decision-making which shape and define the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. The series will feature BASS Conservation, the new Woman's Bassmaster Tour, the lives of touring Elite pros, looks inside the annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic, BASS publications, the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of Year race, memberships and bass-related television programming. .

Inside BASS should quickly become a can't-miss hit for those who love bass fishing and its associated lifestyle. It will air on ESPN2 at 8:25, 8:55 and 9:55 a.m. from January through March 25. After that, a 9:25 a.m. airing will be added.

Lure for a Cure

CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pros Terry Segraves, Kevin Wirth and Terry Scroggins are lending their name and likeness to the 2006 version of the Bomber Lure for a Cure kit, a special three-lure combination whose proceeds go to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

The kit features three pro-series lures in exclusive color patterns and packaged in a collector's set. It includes a Bomber Fat Free Shallow, Fat Free Shad, Jr. and Fat A, all in colors designed specifically for Segraves, Wirth and Scroggins.

The limited-edition lure kits will be available in early February for $13.95 from lurenet.com, Cabela's stores, cabelas.com, at tournaments fished by Seagraves and events put on by the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Past Lure for a Cure kits have featured Tim Horton, Sam Swett, Roland Martin, Peter Thliveros and Segraves.

Weirdest catch

All-time BASS record-holder Roland Martin once had a pelican swoop down and nail his live bait while saltwater fishing in the Florida Keys.

Martin reeled the big white bird to the boat and went to considerable effort to free it from the bait hook. And he donated a little blood in the process from the thrashing the bird applied.

"It was quite a fight," he said. "I don't want to do that again."

Did you know?

Texans fishing in the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic may have a hometown advantage. Eight previous Classic champions hail from Texas - the most from any one state - followed by five from Arkansas and three each from Missouri and Oklahoma.

If I hadn't become a bass pro …

Former BASS pro Chip Harrison might still be in the foam fabrication business in Indiana.

They said it

"You have to grow every day and you do that by just fishing. Most of the guys that are making a good living fishing are on the water 200 to 250 days a year. By staying on the water, you learn more than you could ever learn any other way."

—Former Classic champion and CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Robert Hamilton's advice for aspiring tournaments pros.