MERCER ON (AND OFF) THE RECORD: PART TWO
Story by Matt Pangrac - FOF photo courtesy of Dave Mercer
This is part two of a two part feature with Bassmaster Elite Series Master of Ceremonies Dave Mercer. Monday’s feature focused Mercer’s renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for filming for the upcoming season of Facts of Fishing, the often overlooked challenges of emceeing an Elite Series weigh-in, his thoughts on anglers going head-to-head, and the exciting 2012 rookie class. To read part one, CLICK HERE.
In Today’s feature, Mercer looks back on lessons learned emceeing his first Bassmaster Classic, breaks down his preparation for the upcoming Classic and Elite Series season, looks ahead to the upcoming Elite Series schedule, and identifies the main storylines that will emerge in 2012. He also chats about emceeing the nail-biting overtime finish at the Toyota Texas Bass Classic this past October.
Mercer on the challenges and excitement of emceeing the Bassmaster Classic
“The Classic is all consuming from the second you arrive in the host city to the second that you leave. You’re constantly busy and there’s no down time at all. That being said, one of the main reasons why I’m looking forward to getting back to the Classic is because it’s just such a thrill.
“This past year my very first day on the job was at the Bassmaster Classic. I told a lot of people that this is my dream job and it truly is but until you actually do it, you don’t really know if it’s going to work for you.
“There’s a comfort that develops over time with anything that you do and I don’t care if it’s writing an article, riding a bike, fishing a bass tournament, or emceeing the Bassmaster Classic. Emceeing my first Classic was kind of equivalent to walking up to an Elite Series pro right before a tournament and saying, ‘Hey, jump in a different boat and use different rods, reels, lures and electronics than you usually use.’
“That guy will still catch fish but he won’t be fishing relaxed because he won’t be comfortable with all the new stuff. That’s kind of what emceeing the Classic was like for me in 2011. It was great and it was fun but it was one of those experiences that I needed to go through. I had guys like (Mark) Zona who gave me advice but you just have no idea going into your first one. It was one of the first things that I’ve done in my entire life that I walked away from thinking, ‘That was way more work than I thought it was going to be.’
“With a year under my belt, I can’t wait to get back to the Classic in February. I know how things are going to go down, I know where Trip Weldon is going to be standing so we don’t bump into each other, I know how long it’s going to take for the weights to come up on the scales and just all sorts of things that people don’t think of as part of the job.”
Mercer on developing relationships with the Bassmaster Classic and Elite Series anglers
“I’d say that I probably knew about 60% of the guys going into last season. Now, I’d like to think that I have a personal relationship with all of them and that’s really important.
“As an emcee, the one thing that I never want to be without is ammunition and knowledge. I want to know all of the obscure stats and there’s really no way to know in advance who will be in contention so you have to remember a lot of information. The unique stuff that you can only discover through research is what makes the job fun.
“I’ve always followed the sport and I know a lot of the simple trivia stuff, but in mid January I’ll start doing research about the anglers and the conditions that they’ll be facing throughout the season. I don’t think that a lot of people realize how much prep work goes into getting ready.
“That’s one of the reasons why I chose to emcee the Federation Nation Championship this year. First of all, I think it’s one of the most important tournaments that B.A.S.S. has all year long. Second, I wanted to be there so I could build a relationship with the guys who qualified for the Classic so that when then get to Shreveport they’re going to be more comfortable with me on stage and I’m going to know some history about them.”
Mercer on the main storylines in 2012
“I don’t think that you can predict all the storylines. Toledo Bend will be interesting because they need some water big time and I think that the mystery lake is going to be cool. That’s really going to be exciting for me because there’s just so much that people don’t know so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
“The one main story this year will be if anybody can beat Kevin (VanDam). There are 100 anglers out there and 99 of them are trying to beat one guy that nobody can seem to beat. Some people may think that I shouldn’t make comments like that because I’m the announcer, but it just amazes me at how good he is. Just when you count him out, he comes back and crushes them.
“His standard is so much higher. I can remember a few times this year where people were pointing out that he hadn’t won an Elite Series this year and I was like, ‘Dude, he won the Classic.’ If that was any other angler, nobody would be saying that stuff.
“The other story is Skeet. Everybody wants him to catch them this year and one of the only times that I was at a loss for words last year was when Skeet was one stage. He’s one of the guys that I knew personally before I started this job, and week after week he would come up short. It’ll be interesting to see how he rebounds this year.
Mercer on emceeing the overtime match between winner Keith Combs and Mike Iaconelli at the Toyota Texas Bass Classic this past October on Lake Conroe
“By the time the TTBC rolled around in October, I was ready to emcee another event because it was the first for me since Toyota All-Star week. With the TTBC format, it was inevitable that a tie was going to happen at some point because we’ve been close before in the past.
“As an emcee, I get personally invested in these things because I’m proud to say that I have personal relationships with a lot of the guys out there. It wasn’t an easy job to sell that it was a tie to both Combs and Iaconelli. You don’t want to have to break the news to either of them that you thought it was over but it was really a tie.
“As a spectator, it was definitely exciting. I talked with Keith (Combs) after he won and he agreed that in an event that comes down to fishing against one other guy to catch the first keeper fish in overtime, Iaconelli is probably at the top of the list of guys you don’t want to go up against.
“Combs said that when then left the ramp for the overtime session, he ran 10 minutes to his spot and immediately thought that Iaconelli had probably already caught one. It’s a fun event but it has a totally different feel than the B.A.S.S. events.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to say that you emceed the Bassmaster Classic and the Toyota Texas Bass Classic in the same year.”