Leo "Buck" Doran didn't win a dime when he took top honors in last weekend's Mr. BASS Tournament.
But he dreams of eventually hitting the jackpot because of that feat.
The annual event, which took place on the tidal Potomac River near Washington, drew bass fishermen from across Maryland. It was sponsored by the Maryland BASS Federation.
Doran won the two-day tournament by catching a total combined weight of nearly 38 pounds of fish.
Had he been fishing the prestigious BASS Master's Classic, held last year at Gunpowder State Park, he would now be among an elite group of millionaire bass fishermen.
The Belcamp resident is legal affairs director for Merry-Go-Round Enterprises, the clothing retailer headquartered in Harford.
His pursuit of fishing started seven years ago when he hooked up to fish with guide Mike Draper on the Potomac River.
"Mike essentially got me hooked on the sport of bass fishing. He took me under his wing, and we eventually became tournament partners. I went out on a guided fishing trip to catch bass, and now I'm the one that's hooked," said Doran.
Shortly after that first encounter with Potomac River bass, Doran decided to fish the bass pro circuit.
"After winning a few local tournaments, I put together a little resume and submitted it to several fishing tackle and marine manufacturers. If your resume looks good, they're willing to help you by providing special deals on their products," Doran said.
Doran fishes from the deck of a 19-foot Bass Cat boat, powered by a 150-horsepower Mercury outboard and rigged with an array of the latest marine electronics.
It's the same boat he used when he won the coveted Mr. BASS title last weekend.
To win the honor of competing for the Mr. BASS trophy required lots of fishing over a yearlong period.
The Maryland BASS Federation is a grass-roots fishing group that promotes bass fishing throughout Maryland. The organization comprises about 90 clubs in Maryland, each with a membership of 10 to 30 members.
The clubs hold their own tournaments throughout the year. At the end of the year, the person who has caught the highest total
combined weight of bass ascends to the position of Mr. BASS for the individual club.
At the end of the year, each local club sends that representative to a statewide Mr. BASS tournament, like the one in Washington.
Doran's next step on the trail of the Bass Master's Classic is to win the Eastern Divisional Mr. BASS Tournament at Lake Sebago, Maine, in September.
If he's fortunate enough to take top honors, he'll advance to the national tournament, at which he would be the Maryland representative.
Another win would put him in the finals, where he would compete against anglers from 18 states from the Eastern Region.
If he were to finish first in his regional division, he'd advance to the BASS Master's Classic.
"If I can make it that far, I've got just as good a chance of winning as everyone else entered in the tournament. Only five anglers will come from the grass-roots ranks, and 30 fishermen will come from the pro circuit area."
And, if he's lucky enough to win, top prize is $50,000. But there's more than $1 million in endorsements, said Doran.
"I'm really looking forward to the next tournament."