HEFLIN — Heflin angler Marcel Baker brought back a fifth-place finish and a big smile from last weekend’s Bassin Big Bass World Championship in Catoosa, Okla.
Baker said after the tournament he posed for a photo with all of the winners and he was the only one who appeared to be happy about it.
“I felt more blessed than anybody there just to place,” Baker said.
This was Baker’s first big bass tournament and it took him two years just to qualify for it. The tournament includes one angler from each state who has landed the biggest bass during the year; two additional slots are made available for the previous year’s winner plus whomever wins in a promotional drawing.
“The goal I set for myself was to place in the top five,” Baker said.
Baker, 28, considers himself a weekend angler who “eats, breathes and sleeps fishing.” He said he was the third youngest angler in the tournament, with most of the field being much older.
“Some of these guys have been fishing longer than I’ve been alive,” Baker said.
Baker said he was paired up with an angler from Kentucky who asked him, “Where do you want to go?”
Baker told his partner, “I’m going to be honest with you. I fish a lot of farm ponds and watersheds. I’m not used to fishing this big stuff. I said ‘If we can just fish grass or points or something shallow or flat I think that would work.’”
The pair set off upstream in the large lake and started “chunking” their lures for the elusive bass. Baker chose a “buzzbait” lure and within 15 minutes he caught the bass which would earn him fifth place.
Baker said his partner was using a noisy “whopper plopper” lure that got him no bites whatsoever. Soon his partner changed over to the same lure Baker was using and eventually caught a bass — which bested Baker’s bass to win second place overall.
At the weigh-in at the conclusion of the tournament, Baker said he felt a “roller coaster of emotion” as only 14 out of the 52 anglers had fish to weigh.
“The most blessed I probably felt though all this? The guy who came in first place only beat me by half a pound,” Baker said who added his fish weighed in at 3.73 pounds.
Baker plans to compete next year when qualifying for the tournament starts Jan. 1.
Ironically, Baker said, the next day there was another tournament on the same lake and anglers were hauling in five-pound bass, which would have easily won the previous day’s tournament.
“That’s the beauty of fishing, every day is different,” Baker said.