Inside the Tournament Trail - Feb. 18, 2003

It is with heavy hearts that the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch 
Beer pros are in Many, La., preparing for the competition at Toledo Bend 
Reservoir. Their zest for the sport's riches and fame has been forced to 
take a backseat to the reality of life and death. 

While the pros strategize and plan for a way to catch enough bass to win the 
competition's $100,000 top prize, they are mourning the loss of a friend and 
colleague. Many have undoubtedly dedicated this tournament in his honor. 

Carl Maxfield died unexpectedly at his South Carolina home last Friday, the 
day he was to head for Toledo Bend. He was 50 years old and leaves behind 
wife Toni, an infant son Adam Grayson who was born two days after the CITGO 
Bassmasters Classic last July and two adult children. 

According to close friend and fellow Tour pro Ray Sedgwick, Maxfield died 
from an apparent heart attack and didn't respond to emergency efforts. 
Friends in Summerville, S.C., rallied around Toni. 

Saying "I've done all I can for Toni," Sedgwick made the long drive to 
Toledo Bend Saturday and prepares for Thursday's Tour start with a livewell 
full of distractions. He has plenty of company. Maxfield was one of the most 
popular pros on the Tour, especially among his colleagues. 

"He just had a heart of gold," Sedgwick said. "He was a help anybody, 
compassionate type of person. He thought of helping other people before he 
worried about himself. I'm sure any of the guys on the Tour would vouch for 
that. Just a great guy who got along with everybody and was fun to be 
around." 

"We roomed together, traveled together. He was an outstanding fisherman and 
compassionate individual who would help everyone. It's a tragic loss for our 
sport. He was really an ambassador for fishing. Carl was there, good, bad or 
indifferent. He took everything in stride." 

Sunday's Fellowship of Christian Anglers non-denominational worship service 
at Toledo Bend had a larger than normal turnout. All were grappling with 
Maxfield's passing. 

We talked about Carl and spent some time praying for Toni and their kids," 
said reigning CITGO Bassmasters Classic Champion Jay Yelas, one of the 
leaders of the service. "We talked about how all of our days are numbered, 
and you never know when your time's going to be up. So try to make the most 
of life and enjoy it - like Carl did. Carl lived a good life, and we have a 
lot of fond memories of that fella. He was really one of the good guys in 
the sport. 

"We talked about taking some comfort in the fact that there's life after 
death. Carl is up there in Heaven. He was a good Christian guy. There's a 
future beyond this life, and that's what we have to rest on - in that hope 
that he's up there in Glory right now and we'll see him again soon. 

"But it's still hard and so unexpected. We have had very few deaths in our 
fishing families over the years. There's been Bryan Kerchal and Jimmy 
Atkinson was killed in a boating accident a few years back. And Mike 
Ballentine died from cancer at a young age. But for the most part, we've 
been a pretty healthy bunch. But it's a wake-up call just like Bryan's 
unexpected death was." 

It had been a tough season for Maxfield, who had had been enduring a broken 
leg that occurred during an accident while deer hunting in Saskatchewan in 
November with fellow pro David Fritts. As a result, he fished the first 
three Tour events wearing a cast on his left leg. 

Yet, Maxfield displayed his trademark smile as he maneuvered around the Lake 
Seminole weigh-in stage on crutches. Most of us will remember that 
ever-present smile the most. 

A native of Virginia, Maxfield moved to South Carolina after being stationed 
at the Charleston Air Force base in 1971 and began guiding on Santee Cooper 
Reservoir after resigning in 1980. He had fished the CITGO Bassmaster 
Tournament Trail fulltime since 1991. 

Maxfield enjoyed good success, qualifying for two Classics, winning one 
tournament and losing another in a sudden-death fish-off. He earned more 
than $300,000 in his BASS career. 

Sedgwick said a memorial is planned for Maxfield next month when the Tour 
stops on his home lake, Santee Cooper Reservoir. It will give his fellow 
pros a chance to celebrate his life with his family and friends. 

In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to a scholarship fund for 
Maxfield's infant son. Checks should be sent to Carl Maxfield Memorial 
Scholarship Fund, 305 Squirrel Hollow Court, Summerville, S.C. 29483

SKEET'S KEEPER. Red-hot California pro Skeet Reese had another exciting 
moment recently with the birth of daughter Leah Marie weighing 7 pounds 11 
ounces. 

It is the first baby for Skeet and Kim Reese. Kim timed the birth between 
Tour events and Skeet was there for the occasion. "It was the coolest thing 
I've ever been involved with," said Reese, the curator of cool on the Tour. 

Leah Marie? How about Skeeter, Skeetie or Skeetette? 

DID YOU KNOW? Veteran Texas pro Zell Rowland was the youngest angler to ever 
fish a BASS tournament. He was 13 at the time, and his participation led to 
the creation of a minimum-age of 16. Rowland has gone on to win three BASS 
tournaments. 

PRO BIRTHDAYS. Missouri's Stacey King will be 54 years young on Feb. 21, 
while Indiana's Chip Harrison turns 41 on Feb. 23. Charlie Youngers of 
Florida becomes 51 on Feb. 25th. 

IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO... Georgia's Tom Mann Jr. would likely be a 
club pro in the Atlanta area. He is nearly a scratch golfer who has 
dominated his local course's championship in recent years. 

THEY SAID IT. "You get to do what you love to do and be outside. You get to 
fish. I think every fisherman loves to fish, but they also love to be 
outside, and they love God's creation and being out in nature seeing 
beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We're all naturalists at heart, I think, 
too." Texas pro and two-time Bassmaster winner Kelly Jordon on the most 
rewarding part of his job as a professional angler.