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Inside BASS

Consider these names: Art Ferguson, Kevin Wirth, Chuck Economou, Edwin Evers, Tim Carroll, Steve Sennikoff, Tim Horton, David Walker, Denny Brauer, Skeet Reese, and John Murray.

Chances are that those names are familiar to fishing fans. All are accomplished pros who competed on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour in 2003.

Add the name Jamie Desaro to that list. Doesn't ring a bell? The Idaho angler actually goes by the name "Bink." Still doesn't ring a bell?

That's understandable. Bink Desaro has the admiral distinction of being the only non-Tour pro to earn an early invitation to the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer through the four Bassmaster Open circuits.

"That's what I've been reading," he said. "I can't believe that. I guess I feel
very fortunate. I feel very lucky."

The 34-year-old Desaro says he was born to be a fisherman.

"My dad started me fishing when I very young," he recalled. "He used to have to
tie me to a tree when we were salmon fishing because I could barely walk. I
started fishing tournaments at about 8 years old, club stuff with my dad. It
just kind of took off from there. All the way through junior high and high
school I fished a lot of tournaments.

"When I started having to pay my own way in my early 20s, I slowed down a little
bit. I fished a lot still, but just one or two tournaments a year. I really
started tackling it again in the last four or five years."

With no wife and family, Desaro is now basically a self-described tournament
bum. Between tournaments, "I go home and work at construction sites and anything
to put fuel in my boat and get an entry fee paid."

Desaro admits he was surprised to qualify for the coveted Classic in his first
full season competing in the Opens.

"I knew I could do it, especially after the very first tournament," he said. "I
looked around and really realized that all of these guys put their pants on one
leg at a time also.

"I really didn't think about the Classic when the season started. I just wanted
to get out there and start fishing. The first tournament was on the Columbia
River, which is, kind of, my home waters. I fished three or four tournaments
there before. I only live about four or five hours away from there. I got 13th,
which ended up being my worst finish. I really didn't expect to do as well at
Clear Lake as I did (sixth). Then I got a seventh at Havasu.

"It was a lot of hard work and a lot of focus and concentration."

With his Classic invitation in hand, Desaro will now try to gain even more name
recognition by doing well on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour in 2004.

Believe it or not

Veteran Texas pro and former Classic champion Tommy Martin
was 25 years old before he ever caught a bass. A saltwater enthusiast, the 62-
year-old Martin moved to Lufkin during the opening of Sam Rayburn Reservoir and
taught himself to catch bass.

He then began guiding customers on the lake and moved up to tournament fishing.
The rest is BASS history.

Today's weird fact

Throughout his entire 26 years, Dustin Wilks' address has
always involved water. The North Carolina pro was born on Beaver Pond Drive,
raised on River Birch Drive and recently bought a home on Fieldstream Drive.

Did you know?

Bobby Murray pocketed $10,000 by winning the inaugural
Bassmaster Classic in 1971. Reigning champion Michael Iaconelli took home
$200,000.

Pro birthdays

Virginia's Chris Daves (32) and Robert Graham of North Carolina
(43) share Jan. 6th as their birthday. Arkansas' Keith Green will blow out 42
candles two days later. Virginia pro Rick Morris will become 42 on Jan. 11.

If I hadn't become a BASS pro…

Florida pro Bernie Schultz would likely be
utilizing his art degree from the University of Florida. He is a talented
artist, whose work appears in Bassmaster Magazine and BASS Times.

They said it

"This is such an up-and-down sport. You're up one minute and then
you have a bad tournament and kind of get down. Two or three of them in a row makes you question your fishing ability. But I've kind of come to realize that it's not my fishing ability as much as the ability of the competitors coming on this trail. I've always judged my performances on the Rick Clunns, Larry Nixons, Denny Brauers — the ones that have been here forever. Well, I realize now we're not really any worse; it's just that these young guys coming on are great. These young kids are really tremendous fishermen."
— Veteran Arkansas pro Ron Shuffield.

Tim Tucker's Pro Angling Insider is a new bi-monthly newsletter with an annual subscription rate of $39.95. It can be ordered by calling toll-free 800-252-FISH. A sample issue can by seen on his Bass Sessions 2003 web site, www.timtuckeroutdoors.com.