The BASSMaster Classic starts this week on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. It’s the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing. A field of 56 of the top professional fishermen in the world has qualified for the event. The winner of this tournament will take home $300,000 and make at least three times that amount for sponsorships, public appearances and the like in the next year.
This year, there’s a special twist to the tournament for north Louisiana: Brett Preuett of Monroe is fishing in it! Preuett won the 2014 BASSMaster College Series Classic in 2014 as a member of the ULM Fishing Team. His win carried an automatic berth in the world championship. It’s an amazing opportunity, especially for a 24-year-old. It’s kind of like a college baseball pitcher being called up to pitch the first game of the MLB World Series!
“Man, I don’t even know what to say,” Preuett told me yesterday after finishing practice at Lake Hartwell. “It feels like a dream come true. I just want to do good for all those who have supported me so much and are pulling for me. This is the pinnacle of the sport. If you’ve ever fished in bass tournaments, you had to dream about making it to the BASS Classic.”
I know I have, Brett. But the closest I ever got was hitching a ride in the boat with the pros as press observer. Even that was awesome. Most never even get that chance. I was extremely fortunate to be able to do that because even though I can’t catch fish like that, I can spin a good tale about it (I guess)! I can’t imagine what it’s really like to compete there. Or have a shot at winning $300,000. Brett graduated from ULM and is currently working part-time at the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office. He’s a native of Alexandria and graduated from Tioga High School, where he was an all-state baseball player.
Does Preuett really think he has a shot at beating all these seasoned pros who fish full-time for a living?
“Hey, there are 56 people in the tournament and I’m one of them,” he says. “Somebody’s going to win it. I’ve definitely got a chance, but I just have to go out and fish and not get caught up in everything that is going on.”
And there is a lot going on. Thousands of people will line the bank just to watch the tournament begin each morning. Thousands more will be on hand to watch the weigh-ins. And each competitor has an observer that will report every fish they catch, lose or whatever they do all day long. Every angler has a camera on them all day long. This year, more than 350 press corp members from around the world will be attending. And each fisherman will have boats full of people following them around watching them fish.
Here’s Brett’s exclusive practice report just for lakedarbonnelife.com readers: “Well, Sunday was pretty tough. I only had two fish, but one was a five pounder and the other weighed three. I seem to have a way to catch fish in the dingy water and the clear water, but the areas are far apart. I’m not getting many bites, but the thing that I keep telling myself is I only need five!”
We’ll keep up with what’s going on each day with exclusive reports from Brett.
You can find out more about Preuett and all the Classic news on the hour this week at: