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BASS Reporter's Notebook

"Choose your sport." That's the message in a new promotional spot for ESPN.com, in which Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., is featured.

A Bassmaster Elite Series pro, Monroe is one of many pro athletes and celebrities who are part of the spot. He said he sees significance in the fact that pro bass fishing was included alongside baseball, football and other sports.

"It emphasizes to people that bass fishing is a sport," he said.

Technically speaking, he didn't have a speaking part. "I'm shown in a boat wearing my jersey, screaming, yelling, holding up two fish, showing the excitement of fishing," said Monroe, who explained that the extent of his role was much like that of the other participants.

Actress Alyssa Milano, for example, is shown in the commercial spot as an avid sports fan.

"She's sitting in her dressing room at a computer logging on to ESPN.com to play Fantasy Baseball," Monroe said.

The spot is slated to appear this spring on ESPN and ESPN2.

Ironically, Monroe had to travel home to California for the shoot, which took place in a Hollywood studio. He sandwiched the shoot in between filming at Texas' Falcon Lake for his ESPN2 show, Yo, Ish, and a visit with fellow Elite pro Byron Velvick at his home in Del Rio, Texas.

"I haven't been home in about a month," Monroe said. "I won't be home again for three weeks. I leave Tuesday for Louisiana."

Monroe was referring to travelling to Shreveport-Bossier City for the Feb. 20-22 Bassmaster Classic, his sixth appearance in the sport's most prestigious event. He said he and Velvick were prepping together for the Classic on the Red River.

"I'm looking forward to the Classic," he said. "The excitement, the butterflies are there, I'm fired up. I'm not sleeping well at night because I'm that excited.

"But that's a good thing. It's like Christmas when you're a kid. You wake up and think, 'Is it time? Is it time?' "

ZAC BROWN BAND: 'LOVE, PEACE AND CHICKEN GREASE'

Fishing fans who plan to be in Shreveport-Bossier City, La., for the Feb. 20-22 Bassmaster Classic can look forward to the bonus of a free concert by the Zac Brown Band.

On Saturday, Feb. 21, ZBB will perform on the Classic stage at Bossier City's CenturyTel Center at 3 p.m. CT, just before the Day Two weigh-in begins.

As anyone who follows ZBB knows, the group's hit single "Chicken Fried" is peppered with references to food. On the group's Web site, www.zacbrownband.com, many of the band's messages are signed: "Love, Peace and Chicken Grease." But do these musicians really know anything about cooking?

Yes. Before Zac Brown became a full-time professional picker, the Georgia native was a chef and restaurant owner. He can cook, and in the best Southern style. Brown proves it in a video at www.eatdrinkordie.com, in which he makes a dessert he calls Possum Pudding. (Rest assured, there's no possum in it.)

The band averages more than 200 road shows a year since Brown formed the group about four years ago, and ZBB is weighing in big on the music scene. It already claims some of the music industry's heaviest catches — a No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Chart, and 20 weeks steady on Billboard's Top 100, for example. Among the band's most recent accomplishments is that the video "Chicken Fried" now counts among the most played at www.CMT.com, a popular site for downloads and news of musicians of all genres.

DUCKS IN A ROW

Just in time for his second Bassmaster Classic competition, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bill Lowen of North Bend, Ohio, has lined up two more primary sponsors, Buck Knives and Feather 'Flage.

Both sponsors are prominently featured on Lowen's new boat and truck wraps, and his new jersey.

Feather 'Flage makes a camouflage pattern named Ducks in a Row. The company is based in Lafayette, La., downstate from Shreveport-Bossier City, La., the site of the Feb. 20-22 Classic.

With Buck Knives as a sponsor, Lowen has more than 100 years of success behind him. The Post Falls, Idaho, company produced its first product in 1902. Today the company offers many types of knives, including hunting, tactical and outdoor models, as well as sharpeners and sheaths.

Lowen also recently signed a multiyear deal with The Rod Guard, a .32-ounce foam device that fits tightly to a fishing rod. In addition to being insurance against losing a rod that falls overboard, the foam helps protect an angler's body from bruising during a powerful hook set.

SEEING RED

Well known for pioneering red-colored fishing lines, Cajun Line doubled up on Bassmaster Elite Series pro sponsorships when it signed Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., and Mike Wurm of Hot Springs, Ark.

Red Cajun Line products include a monofilament and a braided line. A brand of Zebco Brands, a W.C. Bradley company, Cajun recently introduced a clear fluorocarbon line.

Hackney will represent his new sponsor during the Bassmaster Classic, in his seventh appearance as a competitor, Feb. 20-22 on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La. Of the 51 contenders at the 39th Classic, Hackney is the only one who lives in Louisiana.