We started the FLW Tour when ESPN launched ESPN2 and wanted a competition series within the outdoor category for the new network. They came to us and asked if we could figure out how to cover fishing tournaments, with hundreds of competitors, and make the programming compelling for a sports network.
One of the biggest challenges in covering tournaments was that it was a crap shoot when it came to getting the winner on camera. Bass tournaments are multi-day competitions and with so many people competing, it was hard to guess who would win in order to put a camera boat with them.
So we decided to create a new series, along with our friends at Ranger Boats, and design the competition format in a way that would guarantee we had the winner on camera. And that format included cutting the field of competitors after day 2 and again after day 3, so that on the final day we only had 12 boats to cover.
It worked out pretty well for us and now it’s the standard for tournament coverage on TV. Back in those days, we would ask competitors who had been cut from the competition to act as camera boats for our videographers, and that’s how we all go tto know David Walker.
Walker always raised his hand to work with the TV crew when he had been cut. I think he was smart to realize that instead of running home after he had been cut, if he stayed and worked as a camera boat, he would get to see the top guys finish the last few days of the competition and learn a whole bunch while he was doing that.
It wasn’t long before Walker was one of the top pros in the country. I’ll never forget the 2001 Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans when he was leading the Classic on the final day. He was on stage and in the hot seat when Kevin VanDam came in with a big bag. Everyone knew it was going to be extremely close.
I was the red hat at that Classic, which meant I was the intermediary between the tournament officials and the TV crew. I had a headset on and was talking tot he TV truck to convey anything they needed to tell the stage crew and officials and vice versa.
I was standing at the edge of the stage watching the final weigh-in and the emcee was drawing out the moment to weigh KVD’s fish.
Walker was so nervous and absolutely squirming with the pressure. At one point he caught my eye there at the bottom of the stage and mouthed to me, “Is he going to win?”
Man, I felt terrible that I couldn’t reveal to him that KVD had the weigh to beat him. It would have ruined a great, suspenseful moment on TV. I’ve always felt bad about that moment, because Walker just wanted to know the outcome SO BAD.
Walker has had his own winning moments since then, and like I said, he’s one of the best pros in the world, but also a great friend to me and everyone else in the BASS family.
He’s known as a killer jig fisherman and is so well respected his sponsors ask him to design products for him. He has a long affiliation with Z-man, for whom he designed the Crosseyez Jig.
It has all the little tweaks and details that Walker wanted to see in a jig.
“I’ve fished professionally for almost 20 years and I think a jig is probably the most versatile lure; you can fish it shallow or deep, in cover or open water. I rarely go fishing without one tied on whether I’m fishing a tournament or fun fishing. I helped design this one with the help of my partners at Z-Man and it has all of the little tweaks that are important to me. It has been very gratifying to catch fish on the perfect jig for me.”
11 Time Bassmaster Classic Qualifier
2011 Bassmaster Elite Series Winner