(Editor's note: This is the final part of a 2-parter on Byron Velvick and the beginning of his wild ride as part of ABC's The Bachelor TV show.)
BassFan: What did they think about your career?
Velvick: It's all we talked about. These women all wanted to talk about my career, so it's all over the show. My career is (what's) defining who I am for ABC. They're loving it. They're eating it up. (Overbye, Velvick's competitor on the show) is a real estate guy who wants to go back into modeling with (the Ford Agency), and I want to go back to fishing.
Did you wow any of the ladies by telling them you had the heaviest winning weight in BASS history?
No. That's not really something the women wanted to hear about. But I did make sure they said that in the PR stuff.
Did you get any sponsor plugs in?
Not really. (ABC is) really anal about that. They won't let anything with a logo on it show up on TV. They're not being jerks about it. They're just being very protective about being sued because of permission to license (logos). You think they're trying to block everything out because they don't want to put it in there. But they're not. I know because I tried to slide stuff in all the time. I'd wear a (Wave Worms) Tiki hat or Solar Bat sunglasses. But they "Greeked" (fuzzed out or covered) everything. On my boat they didn't dot that to the Ranger stripes, but they did do it to the words Ranger and Mercury – even the Ford on my truck.
Do you see this whole experience as more of an interesting blip or a life-changing event?
I don't see it as a life-changing event. I loved life going into this. I enjoy being on the road, and I enjoy fishing. But I'm looking forward to two things. I'm looking forward to the possibility of being the bachelor and, if I'm picked, the opportunity to fall in love and have a relationship with a solid woman. Between (living near) Vegas and the tour, you don't have a real good chance to meet women.
And I think I have a chance to help pro bass fishing. No one ever said I could pursue a career as a pro bass fisherman until met I Rick Clunn. (Editor's note: See his BassFan Angler Profile at the bottom of this article for more on that.) If I can give that back, if I can tell some kid to believe in it – if I can do that on a large scale on ABC – I think it will help our sport. I really do.
So I think I'm being given a chance to find not only the love of my life, but also to help the sport.
Are you done with competitive fishing?
Absolutely not. (The TV stuff) is like a dream, but I'll get back to bass fishing because it's who I am and it's what I love. It's crazy, but at the same time I'm 40, so I'll have my 7 minutes of fame and a few years from now no one (outside of bass fishing) will know who I am."
What happens now?
From a promotional standpoint, I'm contractually obligated for the next year to do promotions for ABC. Jay and I can't go anywhere without each other now. We're going to the Emmys together, Oprah, Ellen, all of them – we go together until one of us is picked.
How about fishing-wise?
Here's Velvick after his huge 83-00 April 2000 win of the Clear Lake Bassmaster Western Invitational.
Last year I went to Spain (in the fall for an international event) as the (U.S.) team captain, and I'm designated for it this year, but I can't do it. I'm supposed to leave on the 19th of September, and I'm still putting the team together and I need to find 13 guys because now I'm not going as the captain.
Other than that I'll probably fish whatever I can, whatever tournaments I can, this fall. They (ABC) tell me it's going to be really crazy, but I don't know what they're talking about. It's hard to say what's happening next, but any chance I have I'll find a tournament to get into.
Are you definitely fishing one tour next year?
Yes. I plan to fish at least one tour next year. ABC has made it clear that we'll have an opportunity to do (appearances), and the day rate is pretty incredible for some of those things. I heard the numbers and I freaked out. I said, "They'll pay me that much just to go appear somewhere?" They said yeah. I said," Plus expenses?" They just laughed, and said of course.
But at the same time, I can't not fish. My sponsors want me on the water and I want to be on the water, so I won't blow that out by any means.
> The Bachelor airs every Wednesday at 9:00 EST from Sept. 22 through Nov. 17 on ABC.
> For the Sept. 22nd show, ABC is flying Velvick to New York City for a private, star-studded party and the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Times Square. "I said I have the (WON Bass) U.S. Open until the 15th, so I can make it," he said. "They asked me if the U.S. Open was on top of the premiere would I miss it. I said yes."
> That isn't the first time that conflict has come up. Velvick did some modeling work in Los Angeles on and off for a while when he was in his 20s, and at one point was up for a role on a soap opera. He was one of three men being considered for the part, and was the only one from L.A. But because the callback was scheduled on top of the U.S. Open, he didn't go – to the callback. When his agent called and asked why he missed the callback, Velvick said: "I had a tournament." The agent said: "You had a fishing tournament? Your priorities are so screwed up. People are dying to be on this soap." Velvick said: "I'm not an actor, I don't want to be an actor and I had the U.S. Open to go to – and by the way, I won it." At the time (1991) he won $50,000. "I said, 'I'll talk to you later,' and that was it," he said. "So I've been through that whole scene. That's why this thing is a comical blip. It's just a weird part of reality to my life right now."
> He won't be able to fish the rest of the Bassmaster Western Opens, but will be fishing the upcoming WON Bass U.S. Open.
> When Velvick was 13 years old, he was a bag boy at tournaments. "That's all I did, dreamed of being a bass pro," he said.
> Though ABC owns ESPN, it seems that neither ESPN nor BASS had anything to do with Velvick getting on the show.
> He "went east" to fish the tours in 2003, so he's only been a tour pro for 2 years despite fishing many years out West.
- End of part 2 (of 2) -
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