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Holy cow what an experience! It's something you can't explain…you just have to experience it for yourself. Everything is FREE!!! The weigh-in shows, the EXPO, the launch, everything! Round trip was just under 2000 miles covering Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and a quick stop over at Atlanta, Georgia to visit a family friend and a nights rest before the 11 hour hike back to Chicago.

If you ever want to witness a gathering of thousands of beer bellied middle aged Caucasian men, the Bassmaster Classic is it. Look no further! :lol: We saw only one other Asian family and they looked just as freaked out as we did. :lol: All kidding aside, we really experienced the warmth of southern hospitality and we had a wonderful time. All the ladies called us honey, sweetheart, sugar, and my personal favorite…"daaarlin". Love it!!

The launch was about 40 miles west of Greenville where all the festivities took place. The water is so low at Hartwell that most of the marinas simply cannot launch boats. You really have to schedule yourself because it is an all day event. Go to launch…get breakfast…go to expo…each lunch…go to hotel for nap…go to weigh-in…go back to EXPO and buy that special something you've been eyeing but too afraid your wife would give you an earful.

It's a pretty cool feeling knowing you're surrounded by the top bass fisherman in the world. I was only able to meet one pro personally, Boyd Duckett. He was signing autographs at the E21 booth and it gave me a perfect excuse to buy the Carrot Stix rod. It came with a free t-shirt and I told the wife I needed the shirt for Boyd to sign. It worked! I picked up a 6'9" 12-20lb test Carrot Stix for my senko setup. These rods are incredibly feather light weight. Can't wait to rig her up and start throwing bombs.

I got to see KVD, Skeet, Ike, Shaw Grigsby, Jason Quinn, Hank Parker, Casey Ashely, Ray Scott, Marty Stone, Zell Rowland, and countless others. They were ALL here! You could walk around the EXPO and bump shoulders with many of these pros. I actually bumped into Ray Scott. Pretty cool meeting the man who started it all.

KVD by far is the most popular angler. You'd see kids with KVD face paintings, temp tattoos and waving KVD flags and signs. He was constantly surrounded by media and fans. At launch at the main dock, KVD was surrounded the entire time before takeoff while other big names like Skeet and Ike quietly sat in their boats waiting for takeoff with nobody really paying any attention to them. It's probably because Ike and Skeet weren't in contention but it's obvious who the Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan of bass fishing is.

The launch was probably the coolest of all events. It's really not that big of a deal in that you just go to the lake and watch these guys sit around in their boats waiting for takeoff. But it's just that your there witnessing these guys ready to make history. Takeoff itself was pretty cool though. One by one they introduced each angler and they took off in order of tournament standings.

Charlie Hartley was by far the sentimental favorite here. He received the biggest applause whenever he was introduced. Too bad D.C. came back on Sunday. :cry: Got to hand it to him though, he made it to the Classic and was in contention all the way to the end. That has to be a dream come true for him. It'd be mine.

This trip is something I'll never forget. I witnessed the crowning of our new Classic champ Alton Jones and experienced the ultimate offering of our sport. I don't know how to explain this strange sensation but it's like feeling very light on your feet, almost weightless. Gotta lay off the pipe!! :lol:

In summary, I feel more intimately connected to this great sport than ever before. This may sound cheesy, but it's like a deeper almost spiritual-like connection now. I have gained so much more respect for this sport and feel overwhelming pride I've never felt before.

THIS IS THE CLIMAX OF SPORT FISHING, PERIOD!! IT'S ORGASMIC!!!! :mrgreen: Just go if you've ever thought about it. You won't regret it. I plan to go again next year and hopefully I'll be able check out the action on the water next time.

I'll post a photo diary as soon as I sort through hundreds of pics from the digital camera and two phones. I have some cool video footage too.

BTW, can you believe I made the ESPN Bassmaster photo gallery???!!! It means my picture will be forever archived in the Bassmaster photo logs. When I saw my picture up on the website I nearly fainted!!! Is that wild or what!! LMAO!! What a great way to cap off the trip.
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