Way back when, a group of guys came together through their love for fishing, and from that the
Maryland Bass Federation was born. Over the years, many changes came about, to include the change
from the MBF to the Maryland Bass Nation as we know it now. It has become, for most, a sort of second
family. A place where we can come together for the lies, and stories. Where we can find solace in each
other’s love for fishing.

The year was 1973. Nixon was president, gas was .40 a gallon, the Birds won the AL East, and
Secretariat had just won Preakness. Clubs started forming, Freedom Bass Master, Suburban Bass
Masters, and Baltimore Bass Chasers, to name a few early ones, and guys like Dick Martin, Don Wilson,
Denny Urbah, Micky Mclury. They all had no idea how big this newfound organization would end up
becoming, or that 50 years later it would still be going strong. MBN has been through many changes and
struggles over the years, but through it all it has maintained its Grass Roots mentality. Fishing was our
great denominator. We were formed because of the love of fishing. Whether it was for the comradery
or the competition, we all found a home within the MBN.

Many members have come and gone over the years. The list is long. For those that we have said
goodbye too, their memories left is priceless and never forgotten. I am sure as some of you that read
this you will remember that one person that you were close too, or that you knew well enough to call
friend, or maybe just came across at a tournament, and remember a time they brought a smile to your
face, or a giggle to your heart. I know as I write this, many have come to mind. Some made me laugh,
some brought a tear because they meant that much. All those lost, or the one’s that just made their way
on to something else, has left a mark or memory for us all to reflect on, to hold onto for life. The
memories and stories for us all to pass onto our kids or new members. The “remember when’s” or the
“the next thing he did’s”, and even the “I can’t believe he’s”. They all have left an indelible stain on our
hearts and minds.

It is and has always been about the Grass Roots of fishing. That is how this thing was born. It is the very
fabric of the MBN. By no fault of our own, we sometimes tend to lose sight of this. I am guilty of this
myself. When we were younger, we went fast, with blinders on, hell bent. We had fish to catch, and had
to get there quick, and sometimes we just lost sight of why we even joined a club, or the MBN. As we
get older, we tend to get softer, wiser, and slow down a bit, which makes us reflect. With the 3
ingredients of age, wisdom, and that slower gear, it has helped me to see and appreciate the pleasures
and blessings of the MBN and my club. It has, in a sense, grounded me, and made reflect on the Grass
Roots I have spoken to in this article. I can only hope we all can reflect, and not forget our roots.
I fish in a club called The Maryland Hawgsters. We were formed January 1 st , 1990. We too have lost
many, for the very reasons I mentioned. Passed on, or moved on, but they too have left their mark.
Throughout the years we have brought in new members, including myself, and I consider them all my
brothers. We have 2 OG members left to pass on the legacy of this club. We address them as, The Dude,
and the Democrat, and they have shared and passed on many stories of “back in the day” we are
blessed for

sure. These stories, the love for fishing, and the comradery is the very reason why our club has
maintained and has stayed together over the years.

One these brothers joined the Hawgster’s in 1991, 1 year after we became a club, and he has
maintained his membership ever since with no break in action. He is the true essence of the Grass Roots
fishing, and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Always there, and ready to help. Will give you his,
to make sure you have some. Always concerned that you are ok.

He has never fished the trail, but always fished the old RQT’s, and Mr. Bass when he qualified as a Co-
Angler. When he did well enough to make the MR. Bass tournament though the club, he would show up
and represent the Hawgsters, with a smile on his face, thankfulness in his heart, in awe, so happy and
blessed to even be fishing this tournament. Grin from ear to ear, asking a million questions, and if he
didn’t catch 1 fish, he was ok with that. Just happy, thankful, and blessed to have even made it.
To start the 2023 season, He told me he had some goals. “I want to make it to the Mr. Bass tournament
and make the top 2” and “I want a good room”. The room thing is an inside thing for the club when we
stay at Lake Anna.

So, he set out in 2022 to reach his goals. He fished every tournament and fished harder than I have ever
seen him fish before. He won a couple club tournaments, and along the way he got a couple of good
breaks go his way, and qualified for Mr. Bass. Oh yea, if you’re wondering, he got a good room at Anna
as well.

The 2023 Mr. Bass tournament was held on the Upper Bay, out of Tydings Marina, which he qualified for
from the clubs 2022 trail.

When he got up on day one, I asked him, “how did ya sleep”? He said, “Didn’t, couldn’t, too excited”. So,
I did what I could to keep him calm and make him laugh.

On day 1 he had 1 fish for 4.34. On day 2 he had 3 fish for 15.51 with a 6.48 lunker. He had just captured
his first Mr. BASS win on the Co-Angler side and punch his ticket to the State Championships.
I was blessed to be with him for the ride home that day. To see his face as he sat there staring out the
truck window with that “what just happened” look on his face. The “holy shit I just won Mr. Bass dude”.
The ride home is one I will never forget. I am so grateful to have shared that moment with him. That ride
was something truly special. I am so thankful that I got to be part of that. My bad tournament was
replaced with his happiness, and absolute raw excitement that could not be measured, it couldn’t be
measured. It is what inspired me to write this.

He was now onto the Championships on Conowingo. The entire time from Mr. Bass to the
Championships was ladened with questions, calls, and thoughts. He drove me crazy with the constant
calls asking about this and about that. I finally had to tell him to calm down, you have 6 months before
the tournament. On day 1 he called me at 5:00 am. Sun-up was 6:00 ish. “I am the only one here, do I
have the right ramp”. “Yes, you do, its early calm down”. He had no idea I was coming to see him, and
others off for day 1. So, when I pulled in, it meant more to him than I could have imagined, as I found
out later. Once again, I was blessed to have been a part of his journey. He went on to catch 5.02 and
8.66 to finish in 4 th place on the Co-Angler side and secured his spot at the BASS NATIONAL

His name is Joe Winterling, and he is going to the BASS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS!

This journey, Joe’s journey, starting with the club tournaments as a Co-Angler. Staying involved, fishing
hard, always learning, and applying his knowledge, is the Grass Roots of the Maryland Bass Nation, and
it got Joe to the BNC. As I wrote this, the late Brian Kerchal came to mind. Not saying that Joe will be the
next Brian Kerchal, but his journey to this point is how Brian made it. BASS, and the Maryland Bass
Nation could use the next Brain Kerchal right now. So, lets send Joe some love, some good luck, and
maybe, just maybe, we all can say, “The Maryland Bass Nation has their own Kerchal”.
So, get to know Joe, get to know all the Joe’s out there, and tell their story, I know I do, and maybe it will
be the story that brings the next group of young guns to join the MBN, and continue the Grass Roots
growth that we all fell in love with back in 1973. The Maryland Bass Nation, our second family and
brothers on our side.