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Burger King fishing team gears up for Bassmaster tourney

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WADDINGTON – It’s the perfect melding of two of the most popular sports in the north country: racecar driving and fishing.

The Burger King Fishing Team, which is partnering with NASCAR’s BK Racing Team, will be participating in the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament from Aug. 8 to 11.

With companies like Heinz and Dr. Pepper throwing their brands behind anglers, big-name sponsorships are not uncommon in the professional bass tournaments. Evan Williams Bourbon just threw its hat into the ring as a title sponsor for the tournament.

But BK team manager and angler Paul A. Pagnato says this is the first time a team has partnered with one from another sport.

“This really came about a couple of years ago,” Mr. Pagnato said. “We put a lot of thought into what would be a great partnership based on the demographic for the bass industry. We analyzed the data and found that the NASCAR audience was similar to the bass fishing community.”

The sponsorship has proven to be a win-win for both teams, Mr. Pagnato said.

“It’s unprecedented,” Mr. Pagnoto said. “The racing team, their fans and their responses have been tremendous. We’ve received a lot of great feedback. It’s a great partnership and we look forward to having the partnership for years to come.”

The team has wrapped up its boats and trucks to replicate the BK Racing Team’s red no. 83 and blue 93 cars.

“It really provides us with tremendous leverage,” Mr. Pagnato said. “And we have a wonderful relationship with drivers Travis Kvapil and David Reutimann. We’ll even take them fishing.”

Mr. Pagnato said he is looking forward to driving one of the racecars someday.

Teaming up with other anglers and fisherman has also proven advantageous, Mr. Pagnato said.

“We are able to reduce our costs by staying in the same place,” he said. “We also pre-fish the tournament together. It’s the idea that two minds are greater than one. When we’re going to a long body of water like the St. Lawrence, one of us can fish 10 miles in one direction and the other is fishing 10 miles in the other. At the end of the day, we can compare notes.”

But Kurt P. Dove, the only BK team angler participating in the Evans Williams Bourbon Showdown Tournament, won’t need too much help in August. He has fished the St. Lawrence River over 10 times during his career.

“The really great thing about the St. Lawrence River is that it is so versatile,” Mr. Dove said. “You can target multiple species of bass. The bass are large and they really fight hard. I remember the last time I was there in 2011. I finished fifth place with almost 22 pounds a fish a day. If you fish 22 pounds in any other area of the country, you would do comfortably.”

At this point in the standings, Mr. Dove is in 80th place and has cashed out in two out of five prize tournaments.

“That’s one reason why I am excited for these next three tournaments in Wisconsin, Detroit and the St. Lawrence,” he said. “My track record has been to do really well in the in the northern tournaments.”

One of the biggest challenges will be facing the river’s current, Mr. Dove said.

“We don’t see current like that in many other places in the country,” Mr. Dove said. “It’s interesting to see how the fish relate to the current. They typically try to find isolated areas or rock areas. The trick is to find a good rock pile where the fish will group.”

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