Want to be a Bassmaster marshal at a fishing tournament? Here's how.
Do you know what a Bassmaster marshal is and what they do?
Since its inception, B.A.S.S. has been at the forefront of helping anglers everywhere develop not only better fishing skills, but make some money doing it. With the onset of all the popularity and exposure, purses for B.A.S.S. events began to go through the roof.
Elite Series anglers from California to Florida and beyond began lining up to take part in them in hopes of making their fortune. Since there has always been so much on the line, B.A.S.S. has gone to extraordinary measures to make sure that every single fisherman has an even playing field, and therefore the best chance to get in on the money.
In doing so, even tournament directors in these bass fishing events have become a part of the Bassmaster marshal program. This ensures that each angler abides by the rules even at the club tournament level.
On the surface, it may seem boring just sitting there in a boat, watching someone else catch a bunch of fish. But the big thing is that you may just get to sit next to your favorite angler!
Take, for instance, an old friend of mine by the name of Mike Dupin. Mike is a bass angler to the extreme, and he's just begun his retirement, so the B.A.S.S. member and pro fishing fan took the leap. He was contacted by the Bassmaster marshal program and promptly signed up.
What you will do as a marshal, and what you might be asked to do?
Tournament director Trip Weldon was once a marshal, and has said they "are our eyes and ears on the water." Being that the idea is to showcase the Elite Pro in any given tourney, B.A.S.S. feels that a co-angler could distract the pro from his best performance. Instead, they choose to accept any B.A.S.S. members that have an objective eye and the patience to sit.
Being a marshal is akin to being a referee, watching for everything from a fish hooked outside of the mouth to an angler storing too many in the livewell. They use their cell phone and camera to relay information and, of course, pictures to the officials at the tourney's home base. They also use the famous BASSTrakk scoring app to count caught fish.
Marshals support any given tournament by providing photos and videos, but they can also be asked to help the angler they're riding with to do things like launch their boat, or even drive their truck. Mike told me via e-mail, "When we met in the launch line Thursday, all he said was 'You wanna handle the boat or park the truck?' I didn't really feel comfortable doing either, as busy as the launch was, but held his $80,000 boat while he parked."
That would be a daunting task for sure, and not all of the Elite Series Pros ask for that kind of help, but marshals may need to convert to a fishing buddy for a moment and help out. Being that the Bassmaster Elite Series is televised on ESPN and live streamed on Bassmaster.com, it's imperative that a marshal takes the job seriously.
Another thing that he mentioned was that "The fisherman were receptive to questions but not chatty," so you need to mind your own business for the most part when it comes to these elite level anglers.
What you need to do to become a marshal
First off, this short PDF file will give you dates and times for upcoming events that you can try marshaling for. The first thing you will notice is that it will cost you a $150 fee to sign up, which might dissuade some. As my friend Mike told me there is even more to it then that: "I am a B.A.S.S. member, so probably back in March I got an invitation to marshal. $150 fee got me two days, with the possibility of getting picked for day 3 and 4. On my own for hotel, meals, etc. Drove up Wed for orientation training and dinner."
Mike was a part of the recent event held on New York's St. Lawrence River on August 24-26. There was one thing that even he didn't see coming: Rough rides. "[I] met fisherman at the launch each morning at 5:30 for a 6:15 take-off. 40 mile boat rides [at] 70 miles per hour with no windshield were hell. [It was] interesting on the day 2 launch I heard coordinators asking fans if they wanted to marshal, so one might slip in for a day for free."
Once you've decided on a date to try for, you'll need to go to www.bassmaster.com/elite to sign up. Since the field cuts to 12 boats on the last day, and roughly half of them have cameras aboard, it remains to be seen whether or not you will make it to the weekend.
My friend spent two days marshaling on the St. Lawrence River. Day one of the tournament with ultimate third place winner Brandon Lester, and day two with back-to-back Bassmaster Classic Champion Jordan Lee.
Mike said, "Back home, I was watching Bassmaster Live online on that Sunday when Brandon Lester lost the 6-pounder that would have won it for him." You can watch the moment right here, then remember it when you have your own chunk spit it at the boat! Lester lamented hard on the video, "That's probably a hundred grand right there."
Wouldn't it be neat to say you were there, on the boat, to see it?
Big thanks to Mike Dupin for sharing his experience being a Bassmaster marshal, and here's hoping that you or someone you know has the chance to watch the pros up close some day!
Cover photo via Facebook/Brandon Lester