Mike Wurm's Quiet Year
Mike Wurm has been mentioned in the pages of Sports Illustrated more than any other professional angler (three times).
But it wasn't his steady career as a fisherman - which includes a BASS victory and seven CITGO Bassmaster Classic appearances - that earned him such exposure. It was simply his name coupled with his profession.
Since turning pro 12 seasons ago, the 50-year-old Arkansas pro has fashioned a consistent, but almost stealthy career on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer. The personable Wurm has quietly hung around the top level of his sport for most of his professional pursuit.
Case in point: he posted a strong season in 2003 that kept him in the top 10 of the Busch BASS Angler of the race throughout most of the season. Yet, for the most part, Wurm flew under the radar of most fishing fans. Solid, but unspectacular rarely rates headlines.
But when the 33rd Classic unfolds later this month, the veteran pro will likely be among the top performers.
Wurm recorded two top-10 finishes en route to placing 7th in the final Angler of the Year standings.
"I don't know why I had such a good year," he said. "I was in tune with it so much. I was very consistent - had some nice top-10s. I don't think I ever challenged to win, except maybe at Toledo Bend. ... It seemed like every tournament we had, the time of year was right for me to produce some fish. The things I like to do worked. The areas I like to fish worked pretty well. It turned into a nice, consistent year."
It was a vintage Mike Wurm season where consistency enabled him to easily qualify for Classic XXXIII in New Orleans Aug. 1-3.
"The style of fishing that I do, you might not say that it's a winning style," he added. "I may not win a lot of tournaments, but I'm always there. I'm always a threat. At the end of the year I'm always in the top 10. That's my style, and every once in a while I'll win one.
"In my mind, my style is that I'm going to get those consistent limits. I'm going to come in with a limit almost every day. Very rarely do I not get a limit. During those individual tournaments, those limits might not be big enough to win, but at the end of the year I'm going to be knocking on the door. ... I'm going after those checks. I try to get those checks. The young guys today are going after those wins, wins, wins. Don't get my wrong - I'd love to win, too. But those consistent checks sure add up at the end of the year."
At this comfortable point in his career, Wurm says that tournament fishing comes easier to him with each passing year.
"I'd have to say that's because of my experience that I have attained over those 12 years," he said. "... I'm more comfortable now going to a body of water than I used to be. I know how to approach them better. I'm more comfortable with the travel."
But is Wurm content to pick up the checks without adding the wins, too ... or is something missing?
"I view myself as being one step away from that upper echelon," he said. "I'm a good, consistent angler. ... I think I'm recognized as a consistent angler who is consistently in the money. Consistently in the top 10 at the end of the year, but I have yet to win a big one. And I think that's that the one step that I really need to make. If I can get that next step, that next rung up the ladder, I might can reach the top. That's where I feel like I am.
"The Classic and Angler of the Year are not the only (important) things, but it's what you guys (the media) measure us by. That's what the public measures your career by and it's certainly a goal of mine. Probably the only goals that I set my sights on early in my career and have not achieved."
MORE RAIN. Just as the 61 Classic pros were returning home from a seven-day scouting period that was marred by high waters, the Louisiana Delta was about to be pounded by Tropical Storm Bob.
The storm was expected to drop another 5 inches or so of rain on the region, much to the chagrin of the Classic contenders who will spend the next three weeks hoping for dry weather and decreasing water levels.
BRAND RECOGNITION. The folks at first-year BASS sponsor Diamond Cut Jeans have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of attention their products have received by being associated with the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail.
"We've been real pleased with our sponsorship," said Doug Gray, Director of Marketing. "The exposure has been awesome.
"The reaction to our Diamond Cut Jeans wrapped boat and truck has been awesome. That boat is the most recognizable boat out there. The thing that we get a lot of response on is when it is traveling from tournament to tournament. You talk about a traveling bill board, that's it."
Tournament sponsorship has proven to be a good vehicle for introducing fishermen and fishing fans to the uniquely designed jeans made by the 5-year-old company based in Nocona, Texas.
"What we're trying to do is target really where our competitors aren't," Gray said. "Our jeans have the comfort fit system that is great for fishing. We get hundreds of emails and phone calls about our products, especially when they are used on the water because they are so comfortable for fishing."
DID YOU KNOW? The 61-man field in the 33rd Classic field will include 24 Classic rookies.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Texan Alton Jones turns 40 on July 1. BASS record-holder Dean Rojas will be 32 on July 3. New Jersey pro Pete Gluszek will blow out 36 candles on July 5, while Kansas' Brent Chapman becomes 32 one day later.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO... Veteran Texas pro David Wharton says, "I have a degree in education and would have been a high school teacher. That would have followed in the footsteps of my dad and mom, who were teachers."
THEY SAID IT. "The only downside to the Great Outdoor Games is, being a competitor, I don't have an opportunity to watch the other events. I'd love to go watch all of the shooting activities and the other stuff that goes on. But we're too busy fishing." Texas pro Gary Klein, a three-time silver medallist, is eagerly awaiting a return trip to the Games, which will be held next week in Reno, Nev.
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