December 19th, 2015
My Experience as an Elite Marshalby Jeremy Schneider February 26, 2016
Have you ever wanted to be on the same boat as some of the best bass anglers in the world fish? Maybe learn a few tricks of the trade, or even how they go about pre-fishing for one of the biggest bass tournaments in the world? Well I have to say that I got to experience being a Marshal for the 2015 Geico Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell and it was one of the greatest experiences I have had.
My friends and I decided to head down to the 2015 Geico Bassmaster Classic and we signed up for the Bassmaster Marshal Program. I got to be on 2016 AOY Aaron Martens’ boat for his practice day and got to share the boat with Justin Lucas on the final day of the classic as well.
The Marshal’s job is to ensure the integrity of the sport is held and to report any violations that happen. You can’t help the angler in any way other than any safety concerns (such as any obstructions that they may hit). Not only do you get to spend time on the water with the pros, you also get to ride in their boats and take photos of them.
For the Practice day I learned that I was paired with Aaron Martens and I was very excited. I am one of Aaron Martens’ fans and follow him closely during the tournament season, so when I got to spend the day with probably the best drop shotter in the world and pick his brain it was very special for me. When I met him the next day he was a pretty cool guy and told me he was going to be spending most of the day checking his deep structure spots with his electronics and wasn’t going to be doing much fishing. I was a little disappointed about that but understood his strategy, after all, the guy was fishing in the Bassmaster Classic.
The day was pretty cold and we ran around checking his spots and while he did that I got to ask him about his drop shot technique and how I can get better at it. I learned a lot from him including that he doesn’t like the technique all that much. Aaron told me his favorite way to catch smallmouth is shallow with a spinnerbait. From his helpful tips that day I also caught my biggest smallmouth, a 6lb 3 oz tank and turned me into a drop shot junkie!
Throughout our practice day the temperatures were below zero and the wind picked up in the afternoon. I think Aaron was getting cold. To be honest I also think he was a little bored after scanning about 25 spots and decided to go check some rocky shoreline with chunk rock, docks and try to catch some fish. Every spot he fished he explained why fish are attracted to it and why and how he would be fishing it. All in all it, was a great day on the water with one of the legends of the sport.
Now, the final day of the Classic was the highlight of my trip. I have to admit I didn’t know much about Justin Lucas, but I do now! He is a great guy and as the day went on I have never seen so much determination and concentration in an angler. Yes, the story is true that he fished the same set of dock slips most of the day and most of the tournament. I also watched Aaron Martens fish the same stretch and catch a few with a Robo worm during his pre-fish and he caught a 6lb spotted bass during the Classic as well off that exact same stretch. I watched Justin first fish the front of the slips, then the sides of each one and then skip his lure between dock floats about 2 feet wide with spinning gear at the back of the slip and catch spot after spot. All this while his family watched and cheered him on. I have to say that bringing your own booster club to the tournament was pretty cool and really helped keep his spirits high. Justin would then move his boat around to the other side of the slip to do it all over again. The main reason he did this was because he wanted to fish a big rock under the dock that the spots were holding and reloading on.
Here is a video of him in action:
I’ll be honest with you, when I got to spend the day with Justin Lucas on day 3 of the Classic and watched him slam 3 pounder after 3 pounder, I was getting really excited and I probably would have picked up one of his rods and started fishing if I could have.
If you get a chance to participate in the Marshal program or are thinking about it, it’s going be a fun ride around the lake. The experience of seeing anglers fish at such a high level is a great motivator for anglers looking to improve their tournament performance. Also, on a side note if you ever do decide to attend a Bassmaster Classic, head to the Fan EXPO. It has lots to see and do for everyone.
About AuthorMore info about author
Jeremy Schneider is an avid multi-species angler. Making his home in Southern Ontario, Jeremy fishes for northern pike and bass. When he is not tournament fishing in the B.A.S.S he can be found enjoying the outdoors hiking and camping. Jeremy has had a lifelong love affair with fishing, He is one of the true northern originals and can remember fishing throughout all of Ontario ever since he was a child. During hard water months, Jeremy can be found studying up on new techniques and tackle to catch his favorite species, largemouth.More by Jeremy Schneider