This article has been rattling around in my noggin since BASS at Rayburn in December. It’s interesting being on the inside and looking out as a professional fisherman. It’s even fun sometimes to see guy’s reaction when they get on the circuit and realize just how different fishing at this level is. I’m going to pick on fellow Skeeter/Yamaha team member and good friend Dickie Newberry of Houston. Ask anybody that fishes East Texas in the last two years and they will tell you Dickie is a certified hammer (won three or four boats in 97 and about the same in 96 ). A week after Rayburn I called Dickie to get his temperature, he was hot. He explained that at least 25 friends had called to say how they could have easily caught 21 pounds in three days on the best bass lake in America, why in the world didn’t he? Now like everybody else that fished I could explain the fight over who’s boat we’re going in, fishing time, battling over water, illness, partners equipment breaking down, guy’s jumping you’re water, eleven 3’s that got off at the boat, and every other reason I finished 45th instead of first, but till you’ve seen it yourself it’s all horse you know what. I will tell you the fishing was really tough, maybe an analogy will help. All major league baseball players will tell you they can crush a fastball, as a matter of fact the faster it’s thrown the further they can hit it. So why can’t Juan Gonzalez’s rattle every other pitch 450 feet into the bleachers? Because all he gets isn’t fastballs. Sometimes they start them right at your pumpkin and you got about 1/2 a second to decide if it’s a fastball and a ride to Rampart emergency, or it’s an embarrass you sitting on your tail in the batters box while the ump punches you out curve. Heck last year Tiger Woods went to some golf course in Florida and shot a 59, a 59. BUT that was for fun and there was zero pressure. Dickie and I talked during practice at Rayburn and we were catching the crud out of them, I had 20+ bites with two over 8 the second day of practice alone. My point is when you mix in a few really big factors, this isn’t batting practice. Probably the biggest factor being that these are not Pro Am’s, the guy you fish with is your competition. Now if I tell you all this and you’re still convinced that since you finished in the top six in your bass club (not to knock it, we all started there) you’re ready for the big leagues, well here’s you’re chance. The last of the four BASSS Central Invitational’s is coming to Lake Texoma March 12-14th. I constantly get asked at boat shows “How do I get in?,” here’s how. The fourth tournament each year rarely fills up, so you can call BASS and ask for the tournament department, tell them you want on the waiting list for the 1998 Oklahoma Invitational. You will have to put down a $200 deposit, which they will refund if you don’t get in or if you are on the waiting list and decide you don’t want to fish. They will start working down the waiting list on about February 20th. Once you get in you will have to join the Association for BASS Professional’s which is $100 (I think) and pay the balance of your entry fee, another $400. I will tell you in all honesty that I have been doing it four years and I still get excited before every one, you will never forget your first BASS tournament. Once you’re in you can show us just what we were doing wrong at Rayburn and by the time this is published probably at Ross Barnett (yuck) too. By the way I’m fishing out of a Skeeter 202 this year with the Yamaha VMAX counter rotating prop 150. If you’re considering a new ride this spring look this boat over at your local boat show, and if you see me out ask and I’ll be glad to let you take mine for a spin. It is the best performing, finest ride I have ever owned.