More than 16 years ago, back when high-level B.A.S.S. events featured two pros paired up in each boat, Pete Gluszek and Rick Pierce were drawn to fish together on day 1 of the Virginia Eastern Invitational at Lake Gaston.
"I lost the coin-flip to that sucker, so we had to fish out of his Bass Cat," Gluszek recalled this week. "It was bright yellow or some kind of crazy color at that time.
"It was in the fall (late September) and the shad were way back up in the creeks, and we were triggering strikes underneath those shad schools with Rat-L-Traps. It wasn't really a dominating effort on our part, so we had a lot of time to talk and we had a good time getting to know each other."
That was the first time that Gluszek had met the Bass Cat owner and also his initial experience fishing out of a boat made by that company. Now he's the newest member of the Bass Cat pro staff.
A spot on the staff opened up this year when Andy Morgan moved to Bullet, and Pierce offered it to Gluszek. The New Jerseyite, who wrapped up a long stint with Ranger last year, will run a Bass Cat in next month's Bassmaster Classic, and also in the Northern Opens and FLW EverStarts when they come to his part of the country this summer.
Gluszek will be among a lot of familiar faces – he has a long-running friendship with Bass Cat Northeastern sales representative Steve Bosley, and he's also tight with Mike Iaconelli (his fellow Bass University co-founder) and John Crews (who's been an instructor at several BU sessions).
"One of the things that's really got me fired up about this deal is the relationships," he said. "Bass Cat has made a great commitment to BU and they want to be part of that program, and it's just a close-knit group that really gets along well together. Ike and Crews had both commented to me what a treat it was to be affiliated with a company like that."
Pierce's memory of that day in '96 isn't quite as vivid as Gluszek's. Pierce ended up finishing 130th in a monstrous field of 332 anglers, while Gluszek was 73rd. In between them were a guy named VanDam (101st) and a fellow named Dudley (115th).
"We didn't have a great day, but it was a fair day," Pierce said. "Both of us had our best stuff leave us and we were adjusting all day long."
Said Gluszek: "I remember a lot of those fish just swatting at that bait, and I lost several right at the boat. That's what kept me out of the check line."