“I’m a sponge to it. I’m passionate about it,” he said. “If I had to go fish tournaments for a living, I’d starve to death. I know I’m not a tournament angler, but I live vicariously through every one of the guys. The thing I like most about Marshaling, I wanted to see that side of the competition. I want to see what makes each guy tick, how they prepare, how they handle adversity, success.
“There’s an education component. You get to sit in that guy’s office and watch him work for a day. I’ve probably learned as much about fishing that wasn’t tied to the end of the line than I have on things that were tied on.”
One particular day was noteworthy. In the third-to-last event of the 2021 Elite season, Paul was paired with Seth Feider, who led the Bassmaser Angler of the Year race. He said Feider was forthcoming, saying it was “a big day for us.”
“That’s the first time I heard an angler talk about AOY points,” Paul said. “He knew exactly how many points he could lose if he didn’t have a good day. He said, ‘I think about it every day. I want it.’ That let me see his mindset and how locked in and focused he was.”
Besides his Marshal duties of entering weights on BassTrakk, taking photos and writing blogs and reports like his “10 takeaways,” Paul said he wants to fish better. Often asked if he’s there to drum up more business, Paul says no. He also gets introduced to tourism folks from that region, but he’d rather not talk shop.
“I almost want to go hide from them,” he said. “That’s my time to unplug and be a fish head and talk about tackle. I’m a fan like everybody else. I want to be able to catch fish better than I catch them. That’s 100% personal. Marshaling has made me a better angler fun fishing around the house.”
That pushed him deeper in the industry, where he’s recognizable to most. Last fall, Paul again jumped in feet first when asked if he’d serve on the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame board of directors — “I was probably as excited for the opportunity to serve as being inducted.”
Here, there, everywhere
Along with heading Visit Anderson, Paul is volunteer coordinator for the Classic, scheduling the Marshals, media boats, the boat yard and arena crews, among other duties.
“There’s been a few times I’ve felt like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew,” he said. “It’s been really cool, watching the community get involved, from the caterers, the golf cart people. We have people at Anderson College doing the national anthem.”
It’s sure his phone will be ringing off the hook during the event, but where exactly might we find you?
“Everywhere,” he said. “I’ll be at takeoffs each morning, at the Expo during the day and at the weigh-ins in the afternoon. In between, I’ll be working with my volunteers at the various checkpoints, whether the takeoff or the boatyard, or somewhere around the event in the evening.”