Of the more than 100 Bassmaster Elite Series events I’ve been blessed to cover in my marketing and PR role with Dynamic Sponsorships, one of the most fulfilling two-hour periods of my career came this past Saturday morning picking up trash from the shoreline around Palatka’s Memorial Bridge at the St. Johns River Bassmaster Elite Series event.
I was a very small part of a group that included Elite Series anglers Carl Jocumsen, Mike Huff, Alex Redwine, Skylar Hamilton and Kenta Kimura, as well as B.A.S.S. CEO Chase Anderson, and 20 eager and willing local high school and college students.
In less than two hours, we filled 42 large yellow trash bags with everything from beer cans to pieces of a car bumper, and even an old NFL trading card. Enough to fill the back of an all new 2022 Toyota Tundra – all picked up from a very small area of shoreline, within walking distance of the Bassmaster weigh-in venue.
“Our goal for the Clean-up Challenge is simple. We want to leave the communities and waterways that are gracious enough to host our tournaments cleaner than we found them,” says B.A.S.S. Director of Conservation Gene Gilliland.
“Hopefully with conservation minded partners like Yamaha and AFTCO, we can help get the word out to folks in the communities that host our tournaments to be way more conscious of the trash that unfortunately dots the landscape of their treasured fisheries,” explains Gilliland.
Trash along treasured bass fisheries is indeed a huge problem. For example, in 2021, volunteers from the “Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful” group removed 152,522 pounds of trash from waterways such as Pickwick, Guntersville and Chickamauga.
No matter how many tournaments you’ve won or worked, removing this eyesore is not an effort beneath any of us blessed to make a living doing what we love in the sport of bass fishing.
In fact, I’ll challenge each of you to haul home one bag of trash from many of your future fishing trips. One bag. I’ll promise you there’s enough trash right around most boat ramp parking lots to make the job fast and easy.
Our time Saturday morning in Palatka made just a small dent in the larger ongoing problem of litter along our favorite bass fisheries. But I’ll also tell you our time together was fun.
I shared a lot of laughs with Jocumsen and the other Elite anglers, not to mention I got a one-mile walk in during the process, broke a healthy sweat, strengthened friendships and knew in my heart we had made a small ecological difference.
In less than two hours, our efforts filled a 2022 Toyota Tundra with 42 bags of trash, and it filled the heart of at least one veteran marketing and PR guy with inspiration to do more of the same in future months.