Yesterday morning (6/8), 35 boats loaded with artists and professional anglers launched from Nashville’s Elm Hill Recreation Area for a beautiful day of competitive fishing in the 3rd Annual Porter Wagoner Memorial Artists & Anglers Memorial Fishing Tournament. Fans gathered at the Music Valley Event Center, as Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ George Braswell brought each team on stage and weighmaster Willie Cook took the official measurements. At the end of the day, rock star Brad Arnold, of 3 Doors Down, and FLW Angler of the Year Shin Fukae were crowned the winners with a total weight of 21.13 lbs. of bass. Fukae also won the Big Bass Award for his whopping 5.64 pounder.
John Park was a last-minute fill-in for his brother Clint – half of the father-son duo The Parks – who took second with Team Vanderbilt’s Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt angler Jeff Baker with 10.83 lbs. Emerson Drive’s Brad Mates and pro angler and Phoenix Boats founder Gary Clouse took third with 9.16. All fish were safely released back into the water.
Porter Wagoner, who in addition to being one of the most popular stars ever to grace the stage of the Grand Old Opry, was an avid bass fisherman. In his spare time, he could often be found fishing on local lakes. A photo of Wagoner holding the largest bass he ever caught along with his fishing buddy and Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris still hangs in his Opry dressing room. A poster-size version of the same photo hangs inside the entrance to Bass Pro Shops at Opry Mills in Nashville. Wagoner died of lung cancer at age 80 in October of 2007.