My position as a reporter affords me the opportunity to meet and interview a lot of very high profile individuals. I’ve interviewed sports stars, news makers, pop culture icons, musicians, actors and others with “celebrity” status. Most are very down to earth once you meet them in person. You find out behind all the artificially produced glitz and glamor they’re really just like the rest of us.
Naturally there have been exceptions. Naming them here wouldn’t be appropriate, but there are some you know well who think far too much of themselves.
Some of the most down to Earth guys I ever met are professional fishermen. Last weekend I spent several hours with six anglers who fish the Elite Series of B.A.S.S. West Virginia’s Jeremy Starks along with Brandon Palaniuk, Shaw Grigsby, Tim Horton, Jeff Kriet, and Mike McClelland were all on hand for the open house at Freedom Outdoors and joined me on last week’s edition of Ram Trucks West Virginia Outdoors. These are some of the best bass anglers in the world. They make up an interesting fraternity.
When the radio show was over, I hung around with the guys and just listened as they shared stories. Kriet is clearly a practical joker. He is always holding court in any group and runs the conversation. You can’t help but laugh as he tells his bizarre stories from years of tournament fishing. McClelland is one of those guys who always has a suspicious grin and is ready with a comeback zinger tinged with country logic and humor. Horton is the straight laced one of the bunch, always looking for the brighter side of people yet willing to laugh even when the joke is on him. Shaw Grigsby is the “old guy” of the outfit. He’s been on the pro tour for more than 25-years and remembers the really old days of bass tournament fishing. His longevity gives him wisdom he freely shares if you ask, but also a treasure trove of stories which make him a gold mine of witticism. Jeremy and Brandon are relatively quiet. They are the young guys in this outfit and quickly recognize when they should charge in with a story or comment and when to back off and let the others settle it among themselves.
These six anglers are a microcosm of the fishing trail. Personalities you don’t get the chance to see when the TV cameras are off or they are away from the radio microphones. The truth is there is hardly any difference. They are the genuine article. We see them hauling big fish into a boat and holding up a monster bass for cameras before a screaming crowd.
It’s easy to see how this modern band of gypsies could become fast friends for life. They live together, travel together, and share highs and lows together. They are fiercely competitive on the water and will go to a literal fist fight over fishing spots. But they would stay up all night to help the same guy get his boat back on the water for the next day.
It’s an interesting life for the select few who’ve managed to work their way into such a position. They say bass fishermen are one big family, and just like any family brothers fight–but brothers also take up for each other. I’m just glad to know them.