It was in late August that Todd Pearson logged onto YakimaBait.com to buy bait for steelhead fishing. A pop up flashed across his screen, stating that he’d been selected as a potential prize winner.
The 50-year-old Kenmore resident read the contest details and got fired up. This was a shot to help set a world record, and to fish with the legendary Buzz Ramsey. Pearson spent the next hour feverishly filling out a questionnaire.
Yakima Bait Company held a national contest, with entries pouring in from anglers across the country. The entrants yearned to be part of a team providing documented proof on film that Rooster Tail is the world’s most versatile multi-species lure.
On September 6, Pearson received a call telling him he’d won. "I must have come across pretty well," he said.
He flew back to Michigan last week. As of this writing, he was fishing with the legendary Buzz Ramsey.
"Buzz is one of these guys like John Wayne, the real deal," Pearson said. "There’re not many people who can walk the walk so effortlessly. He’s just humble, and he’s got high values and standards. To be here with someone who is such an industry icon, is great.
"This contest is about going out and getting it on video," Pearson said. "So there are numerous locations around the United States, with ours being the primary because it’s got Buzz as the spokesperson. It’s unfortunate that we came up to Lake Ontario at this time because there’s been a cold snap that moved in for about a week before we got here. So the fishing has been off. Even the local anglers have said it’s been horrible. But we’ve managed to catch fish. It’s been great. We went out today and were the only people catching fish on the Rooster Tail."
During his trip, Pearson has witnessed the widespread love of this particular lure.
"The local community has been aware of our presence," he said. "Every day, we’ll be hanging out somewhere, and someone will see Buzz and come up and meet him and they’ll have a Rooster Tail story. They’ll say, `I caught my first bass on a rooster tail.’ Or ‘I was going through my grandfather’s tackle box from 40 years ago, and there were Rooster Tails in there.’ It’s as American as apple pie, if you’re a fisherman."
While Yakima Bait’s filming expedition will run into late October, Pearson was to return home by last weekend. He was asked for his favorite moment.
"It was on day 2, and it was rather rough out," he said. "We were trolling for lake trout and brown (trout) and salmon. It was just so rough and nothing was biting. We went into a island inlet called Stony Lake and fished the reeds. Buzz and I, within minutes of each other, lost bait to Northern Pike — they have sharp teeth. We just looked at each other and were thinking ‘Well, we need to step our leaders up.’
"And it was a surreal moment for me," Pearson said. "I was like ... ‘I am fishing with Buzz Ramsey!’’"