For pro angler, sexy undies give athletic support


March 08, 2009|By CANDUS THOMSON

If Grant Goldbeck ever stands on the podium and hoists the Bassmaster Classic trophy overhead, he'll have sexy underwear to thank.

Contrary to what lots of folks think, cruising the country to fish competitively against other like-minded and like-skilled anglers is an expensive proposition. Unless you consistently finish on the podium at the elite level, prize money won't get you and your bass boat from Alabama to Texas.

That's something guys like Goldbeck know only too well.

The Maryland native will begin his third season this week fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series, an eight-event competition that every year provides a pipeline to the Classic. Each event has a top prize of $100,000, with the top point earner at the conclusion of the series receiving $200,000. But it costs $41,600 to enter the whole series.

Even if you're a math knucklehead like me, you can see that after factoring in gas for truck and boat, lodging and food, there's not a lot to keep the home fires burning.

And if you're Goldbeck, a friendly guy with a big grin and a soul patch under his lip, expenses include providing for a wife and young son. Although he has career winnings of $121,829, it averages to only $2,298 per tournament over seven seasons.

He has seven sponsors, ranging from motor maker Mercury to Meg Christ, a local Realtor, but clearly needs more coin to keep his boat afloat.

That's where sexy underwear comes in.

For 15 years, Goldbeck's family has owned a lingerie store, Forbidden Fruit, on Rockville Pike in Montgomery County. They sell the kind of stuff Alec Baldwin gave Melanie Griffith in last century's hit movie, Working Girl. Pretty mild in this day and age.

"It's been helpful not to have to depend on fishing," says Goldbeck, 38.

But in this economy, even sexy underwear sales have lost their snap. Goldbeck says he'll need some tournament winnings this year to support the shop.

Still, he'll start the season Thursday at Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Texas, with restored health and a sense that "I've learned to survive in this industry."

Last season, Goldbeck broke his back in two spots when his boat pancaked on a 4-foot wave and his body took the full force of the impact. He wore a back brace for almost four months and then devoted himself to gym workouts, "seven days a week, except for Christmas."

The Elite field of 101 anglers includes all the big names such as Classic winners Kevin VanDam, Skeet Reese, Mike Iaconelli, Rick Clunn and Takahiro Omori.

"You're only as good as the people you're surrounded by. I've learned a lot from them every year," Goldbeck says. "But I don't feel I've fished to my potential yet."

While he loves his job, there's one thing the Gaithersburg resident wishes he could change: time away from his wife and son.

The Elite season runs from March to August, making stops from Texas to upstate New York and heavily loaded on the front end. Some top pros can lessen the pain of travel by having more than one truck and boat. But guys like Goldbeck go point-to-point and try to fly home between events.

"I think what exhausts us the most is driving from town to town," he says. "As soon as you lay down on the bed for a little rest, you feel guilty, like you should be doing something."

So Grant, Lorelei and 3 1/2-year-old Kirby Goldbeck will try to make a part of this season a family affair. Dad thinks having them along will allow him to concentrate more on fishing and less on missed responsibilities back home.

"Of course, I'm excited. It's been a long, cold winter," Goldbeck says. "But Kirby's excited, too. He can't wait to see Skeet Reese and his new truck."

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