Mark Zona and the big happenings in 2017
Dec 8th, 2017 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Nov 20th, 2018 at 9:41 PM
Looking back on a season of pro bass fishing, there are an awful lot of amazing moments. Whether watching an angler catch the winning fish on Bassmaster Live, or a rookie taking the Forrest Wood Cup, there were so many really amazing occasions in 2017.
Over the past several years, BassFIRST has contacted that jolly elf, originally from the Chicago area, now residing in Parts Unknown, Michigan in his mystical workshop, Zona Claus, aka Mark Zona, for groovy Christmas gift ideas for fishing fanatics.
This holiday season, Zona gave us insight instead of present planning tips. He shared what he thought were the three most important happenings associated with tournament fishing in 2017.
Brandon Palaniuk winning the Angler of the Year (AOY) title.
“I feel bad saying this,” said Zona. “I was one of the biggest doubters of Palaniuk being able to be the AOY. Having covered him over the years, I truly admired and respected how he fished. He always reminded me of the style of Denny Brauer or Davy Hite. Along with a handful of wins and Top 10s, there were always some really bad tournaments too, finishing in the 90s. Even this season he had one of those bad events, but that was it.
“I thought until the last day of the season that he was going to lose it. He sure showed all of us. I have so much respect for what he accomplished.”
College programs and Jordan Lee.
“Jordan Lee was the first college bass guy who came over to the Elite Series and had a real impact,” said Zona. “Others have made some noise, but this guy is the real deal. Hall of Fame type of player.
“Even before he won the Bassmaster Classic earlier this year, you had that feeling about him. I remember when me and Tommy Sanders were covering college bass and saw Jordan fishing and presenting himself. We both thought he was going to be an Aaron Rodgers type of pro.
“The take away for me with Jordan is that the college programs are working regardless of what organization is running them.”
Johnny Morris’ acquisitions and museum.
“Johnny Morris and merging Cabelas into his family is absolutely amazing and you have to recognize the impact that has on the sport.
“Add to that the new Wonders of Wildlife Museum Johnny opened in Missouri. That is an incredible place. I am not a museum guy, but it is wonderful. Not just the displays, etc., but the message and history it provides for all of us and the kids. Wonder of Wildlife truly tells the story of how our traditions of hunting and fishing are part of the culture, and who we are and where it all came from.”