It may be named the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Tour, but it was three Southern pros who earned invitations to the prestigious 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic this past weekend.
Derek Remitz, Sam Lashlee and James Charlesworth garnered the final three spots via the CITGO Bassmaster Tours in the Classic set for Feb. 23-25 on Alabama's Lay Lake in Birmingham, Ala.
Still to qualify are six BASS Federation Nation representatives, who will be determined at the 2007 BASS Federation Nation National Championship on Alabama's Lake Neely Henry, Jan. 17-19. The final Classic competitor will be determined at the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship presented by Advance Auto Parts on Jan. 25-27 on Alabama's Lake Guntersville.
Remitz, who lives in Hemphill, Texas, is the most experienced of the three Northern Tour pros in terms of BASS tournaments, cashing a check in 19 of 28 tournaments.
"This is a dream come true for me," he said. "To be 24 years old and fishing in the Classic is the dream of my lifetime, and I can't believe I am going to accomplish that. I couldn't have dreamt this would have happened at the beginning of the season.
"I am looking forward to catching those Alabama spotted bass that I keep hearing about."
Lashlee, a resident of Camden, Tenn., has scored seven money-winning performances in 13 BASS events.
"I just notified my wife and I can't tell you how excited we are," the 45-year-old said. "This is a lifelong dream for me.
"This is the culmination of a lot of hard work, and I couldn't have done this without a lot of people pulling for me. Fishing in the Classic has been my dream ever since I can remember."
Charlesworth, who lives in St. Cloud, Fla., has a BASS career record that includes winning money in eight of 22 tournaments, posting three top-10 finishes.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic right now on top of the world," he said. "I can't believe I made it.
"Not too long ago I decided to quit my job and pursue a career in professional bass fishing, and this is the biggest accomplishment of my career thus far. This has been my dream for a long time."
The three Northern Tour pros will comprise part of a total field of 50 for bass fishing's most major event. The grand prize for the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic is $500,000.
CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Lane took home the newest addition to his family on Oct. 20. Hannah Elizabeth Lane, weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces, was born Oct. 18 at 1:25 p.m.
Both daughter and wife, Holly, are in good health. The Lanes already a son, Cal, and a daughter, Hunter.
"She will start [fishing] at the age of, probably 2 ½," Lane said. "She will be in the boat at less than 1 ½ years old."
Adding to the excitement, Lane also recently signed with Polk County as his most recent sponsor. The Florida county is where he grew up, learned to fish and he currently resides (in Winter Haven).
Recent BUSCH Shootout winner Ish Monroe recently signed an endorsement contract with Cheetah Energy, making him the latest of several Elite Series pros to sign an energy drink sponsor.
The San Jose-based energy drink producer contacted Monroe about a month ago to test their product. "The product has a great taste and it gives me plenty of energy," Monroe said. "It's the best energy drink on the market."
Wolak waves goodbye
To Warrior, Pa., that is. The 2006 Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts winner plans to move to Wake Forest, N.C., to enjoy warmer weather and reduce the travel involved during the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series season.
Mark the date
BASS members and fishing fans can start penciling in their 2007 fishing trips now because the new 2007 BASS Daily Planner & Fishing Guide has just become available.
The 160-page, brown leatherette planner has been redesigned and is filled with expert tips and techniques from Bassmaster Elite Series pros and anglers from the Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats and the Federation Nation. The planner was written by the staff of Bassmaster Magazine and includes peak fishing times and moon phases, full-color photos and a "week-at-a-glance" layout with plenty of writing space.
The planner is $14.95 plus $4.95 for shipping and handling. It can be ordered by calling 1-877-BASS-USA.
Terry Butcher's Elite Series boat wrap promoted Premier Power Sports, a boat and ATV dealership in Oklahoma City.
Believe it or not, Ron Klys, who last competed in a 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Southern Tour event in May, has caught three rod-and-reel combos from the bottom of the same lake Florida's Lake Santa Fe.
"I caught all of them dredging the bottom with a Berkley Frenzy Diver crankbait," he said. "Two were baitcasters and the other was a spinning outfit. One had a giant Chug Bug tied to it. All had been in the water quite a while."
Did you know?
Pam Martin-Wells, a pro on the Mercury Marine Bassmaster Women's Tour presented by Triton Boats, has a long career that includes nine national tournament wins and 17 championship-event appearances. Martin-Wells will next participate in the 2007 Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship on Lake Mitchell in February.
If I hadn't become a BASS pro
Kelly Spear, a competitor on the WBT, would spend more time as a Curves fitness instructor/manager and Weight Watchers leader in Chardon, Ohio. The 44-year-old angler also runs marathons. She has competed in five of the 26.2-mile contests.
They said it
"Guys like (Kevin) VanDam and (Rick) Clunn, those guys have natural, God-given talent. I think I might have a little of that. What I think makes me successful is my work ethic." Reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Michael Iaconelli tells The Roanoke Times the secret to his success.