Mark Menendez – Mark’s Outdoors

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MenendezBlogLast week was my annual pilgrimage to the Mark’s Outdoors Pro Day and Tournament to represent Strike King. This is a special event as it has become a family reunion of sorts.  I get to see fishing friends and fans that I have meet over the years at this event.

Mark’s Outdoors is located in Birmingham, AL. This is the “expert” shop for fishing, hunting, and outdoor gear. They have the top of the line for all outdoor enthusiasts! There is something for the entire family!

The Pro Day welcomes 15-20 of the nation’s top bass fishermen. This year BASS Angler of the Year, Brent Chapman was there to compete. Bill Lowen, John Crews, Randy Howell, Greg Vinson, Casey Ashley, John Murray, Fred Roumbanis, Charlie Hartley,Brandon Palaniuk, Jamie Horton, Michael Simonton were on hand from the BASS Elite Series. FLW Pros Jimmy Houston, Scott Canterbury, and Kyle Mabry were in the store as well. All of the pro anglers were available to talk fishing and meet the huge crowds. The event also included lunch for everyone that included crayfish, catfish, burgers, and grilled hotdogs.

The Mark’s Outdoors Fishing Tournament is held on Lay Lake. It has been the host site for the Bassmaster Classic in past years. This event is special as it has 500 plus boats each year. There are divisions for Parent/Child, Couples, and the rest of the field. 10 places are paid for big fish and 60 overall checks are paid. The Grand Prize is a fully rigged Skeeter Boat that is randomly drawn from the contestants!

There is strong conservation history of this event. Each boat is given a bag of Florida Bass fingerlings that must be released in the lake before the team may begin their fishing day! This event has stocked more than 3 million Largemouth Bass into Lay Lake over the years! The results of the stocking can be seen at the tournament scales. This year it took over 20lbs to win! The winning fish were all Largemouth!

I fared well with a 15.03 catch that ranked in 35th place. This prompted several of my BASS friends to remark, “You still remember how to catch them!” My sabbatical may taken me away from the front deck of my Skeeter Boat, I still think about fishing every day. It is nice to know that I am still competitive after such a break.

As my wife continues to battle Pancreatic Cancer, I thought about Mark Whitlock the founder of Mark’s Outdoors during the event. He lost his battle with cancer two years ago. His legacy lives in the waters of Lay Lake and at the end of anglers lines. Thank you Mark! It was nice to be close to you again.