Over the years, B.A.S.S. has presented the Classic media brigade with a wide variety of souvenirs and knick-knacks, primarily but not exclusively fishing-related. Usually these came from sponsors, so any time you see a portly writer in an ill-fitting Ranger/Triton/Berkley/Mercury t-shirt, toting a floating key chain or drinking from a mini bottle of Evan Williams, there’s a chance he picked it up at the most recent world championship. Those who go back a long ways might even sport a pair of B.A.S.S.-provided Wranger fishing jeans.
The swag isn’t entirely from B.A.S.S. sponsors, though. Sometimes the host city, which has no doubt paid a pretty penny to bring the event to their waterway, will try to get in on the act. In Shreveport we got aprons and briefcases from the Chamber of Commerce. In New Orleans we got Mardi Gras beads (believe me, you don’t want to see 99% of the outdoor media lifting their shirts).
At the 2005 event in Pittsburgh, we received samples of the most famous product that city has produced (other than steel and the Steelers) — Heinz ketchup.
In this case the bottles were customized for the event, with slogans like “Preferred by Bassmasters Everywhere” and “Makes Fishes Delicious.” Only one problem with that last label — apparently no one told the Chamber or the folks at Heinz that it was a catch and release event. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, though. So few fish were caught in that event that the resulting fish fry would have left a lot of us hungry.