LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Jeff Baird didn’t have the heaviest bass on Day 1 of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional, but he was the hands-down winner for the Best Beard Award.
Baird, a 45-year-old taxidermist from Washington, Utah, has a four-foot-long beard that stretches nearly to his knees. The facial hair stays braided when he fishes, but still, it dangles over his stomach when pulled together. Even the whiskers on his cheeks need to be pinned back when he’s on the water.
He learned his lessons the hard way.
“You throw a cast and go to reeling and get hair caught in the reel, you notice that in a hurry,” he said, laughing. “So, it’s French braided, fish-tail braided. My wife does a lot to help me get out when I’m hunting and fishing.”
Baird, who’s fishing for Nevada at the Western Regional, said the most common question he gets about his facial hair is “How long have you been growing it?”
“Eight years,” he said. “I love it. It looks really nice when it’s out (and not braided.)”
Baird’s beard caught attention on Wednesday, more-so than the three bass he caught for 7 pounds, 7 ounces. His lower unit went out early on Day 1 and he missed about three hours of fishing time. Baird also missed a couple of big bass he said likely would have put his bag into the high teens.
“I dumped two monsters,” he said. “Still, it was an awesome day. I’ll focus on tomorrow and hopefully (fortune) shines on me again.”
Happy birthday, honey!
Idaho boater Brent Shores started the Western Regional with a bang, weighing a 10-8 limit which was good enough for 15th place after Day 1.
Shores was pleased with the catch, but he still was thinking of his wife, Natalie, whose celebrated her birthday back in Boise on Wednesday. B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart urged Shores to sing “Happy Birthday” to her via the Bassmaster cameras and Shores happily complied – much to the delight of the crowd and most certainly, to Natalie.
Pair of aces
Two anglers from last year’s B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional will compete in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk when it’s held next week on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell.
Taylor Smith won the regional on Lake Havasu in 2021 with a weight of 10 bass for 33 pounds, 15 ounces. That tournament was shortened to two days because of high winds on Day 2.
Matty Wong finished third at Havasu last year with 28-5, which qualified him for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on the Ouachita River in Louisiana. Wong won the title there in November which earned him a berth in the 2022 Classic.