If you stood at a boat ramp on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Central Florida and watched dozens of young Americans line-up to launch this week at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, you could easily get the false perception these are a bunch of rich kids with pricey boats and tow vehicles.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll quickly realize, they’re actually fueled by Oreos, borrowed boats, and in some fortunate cases, a bit of financial support for tuition and travel expenses from the colleges and universities they represent.
“Nope, we’re not rich. This is my dad’s boat and he just lets me borrow it. I’ve had a job sackin’ groceries at Publix for years, and now I’m part of a pressure washing business to earn money,” says Jarrett Brown, a 22-year-old finance major from Montevallo State, who recently registered for the new Yamaha Power Pay cash bonus program for a chance to earn extra money.
Brown and teammate Tyler Harless, a biology major, who makes and sells Wicked Jigs to support his tournament fishing, say a bag of Oreos often serves as breakfast and lunch most days on the water, because they’re inexpensive and easy to eat.
The two earned their way to this week’s national championship with a victory earlier this year using a Carolina Rig and shaky head on Eufaula, Alabama, but say a topwater frog and a heavy Texas-rigged punch bait will be their main players this week around the Harris Chain’s abundant vegetation.
After the first two full days of practice, they rated the fishing as average – not super tough – but by no means easy. “We’re still trying to figure it out,” says Brown. “We’re required to be off the water by 4:30 this afternoon, but if they’d let us, we’d fish until dark,” adds Harless.
In that case, the bag of Oreos would likely serve as this evening’s dinner too.