After having gotten most of my serious business done over the first three days, I was eager to have the Caveboy experience some of the flavor of the industry’s biggest annual gathering. But, he wasn’t as enthusiastic … at first! Turned out he was a bit intimidated about meeting some of his fishing heros (other than his dear-old dad, of course). That hesitation didn’t last long, however. One of the first people we ran into was former Bassmaster Champion and bass fishing rock star, Mike Iaconelli. He instantly broke the ice and had my son talking about his favorite fishing techniques. As the Caveboy loosened up his smile grew as did his fervor. Mike then signed a personalized picture for him, posed for the above picture, and gave my son his signature advice of “never give up, never surrender” before we parted ways.That was all he needed for an attitude adjustment, as he exclaimed while we walked away, “I’m really glad I came, Dad!”. Little did he know that this was just the beginning. We passed the Lucky Craft booth and I noticed another past Bassmaster Champ (and Angler Of The Year), Skeet Reese, hanging with his sponsors. So, we stopped for some introductions. It wasn’t long before Skeet was offering the Caveboy fishing advice, an autographed Lucky Craft Pointer, and another photo op. We then stopped by the V&M/Cyclone booth to say hello to the folks there that had been very cordial to both me and my colleague, Danny “DB Basser” Barker, during the show. When they discovered that soft plastics and buzzbaits were my son’s two favorite techniques they immediately set him up with with their new Swamp Hogs and a Cyclone Classic Buzz. As we left the booth, we bumped into their highest profile pro-staffer, current Bassmaster Champion, Cliff Pace. Again, the Caveboy became completely engaged with one of his angling idols, talking technique and approach. Cliff then signed his Cyclone buzzbait and gave the two of us the thrill of this photo pose.
We made several more stops where the Caveboy was spiffed out with more fishing swag from the fine folks at Daiwa, DUO/Realis, Persuader, No Slip Bait Tape, and my sponsors at Yo-Zuri before we had to make an early exit. As we walked back to the hotel to meet the Cavegirls, check out, and head home he couldn’t believe that he got to “hang with the big dogs” and couldn’t wait to get on the water to test out his new gear. Next year in Orlando, when I ask him if he wants to walk the floor with me, I doubt that there will be any hesitation at all! 😉