Bassmaster angler Keith Combs saves a turtle


B.A.S.S. Times editor Bryan Brasher swoops in for the assist

Keith Combs is one of the top bass tournament anglers in the nation. He’s fished in the Bassmaster Elite Series for the past 10 years, winning two tournaments, finishing in the money 89 out of 108 contests, and earning more than $1.1 million in winnings.

In short, he’s living the dream.

Bryan Brasher is also living the dream. He’s the editor of B.A.S.S. Times and senior writer for B.A.S.S. publications. When he’s not writing or editing fishing articles, he’s spending time with anglers like Combs, fishing and talking about fishing.

So when these two got in a boat together at The Kingfisher Society in Laurel Hill, N.C. last spring during a Shimano media junket, they were enjoying time on the water. The primary focus of the event was coverage for Shimano’s SLX DC, a baitcasting reel with some of the most advanced anti-backlash features on the market.

Fishing took a back seat when Combs saw the turtle in distress

But, with fellow pro anglers James Elam of Major League Fishing, Bassmaster Elite angler Bernie Shultz, and FLW Costa Series angler Lawson Tilghman, a friendly tournament broke out with a whopping $100 payday.

Of course, the money meant nothing to any of them. But bragging rights — now that was a different story. Believe me when I say that none of these guys wanted to lose out on that.

A little wrinkle in the tournament was that the winner would have the biggest combination of one bass and one bluegill. With their tournament bass boats full of soft plastics, jigs, crankbaits, and hollow body frogs, no one was really prepared to catch a bream. But they improvised.

All the anglers had caught big bass. And word had spread that Elam had a 6+pound bass AND a bluegill in his boat. So with his own 6+ pound bass in the livewell, time running short, and still needing to catch a bluegill, you could have forgiven Combs for looking the other way when he noticed a turtle with it’s foot stuck in the grate of a fish feeder.

But Combs didn’t hesitate to switch hats from bass angler to wildlife rescuer. He wanted to “see if we can help Little Buddy out.”

Little Buddy didn’t seem all that appreciative at first

As Combs pulled his boat up to the fish feeder, he tried freeing the turtle with the end of his fishing rod. But the turtle’s foot was stuck fast, and wouldn’t come loose. That’s when Brasher sprang into action. He verbally reasons with the turtle, letting it know he understood its predicament. “But I need a little understanding from you,” he pleaded.

And as Combs used his rod to keep the turtle from biting Brasher, they righted the ornery reptile, which calmly walked off the grated platform, foot finally free.

And for those keeping score, Combs followed up the rescue by catching a chunky bluegill, and winning the friendly tournament. How’s that for karma?

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1872 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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