Greg Gutierrez‘s quest to return to the Bassmaster Elite Series is playing out a long way from home.
The 51-year-old resident of Red Bluff, Calif. is back fishing B.A.S.S. events for the first time since 2008, when he dropped off the Elite Series at mid-season to remain near home with his ailing wife. The two-time Classic qualifier is competing in this year’s Northern Opens, and a 67th-place finish in the opener at the James River last month means he’ll need extremely strong showings at the final two stops to end up high enough on the final points list to return to the organization’s top-level.
He’s undergone many changes since his last Elite event at Lake Murray in ’08. Wife Bobbi has made a strong comeback from surgery to remove nearly half of one of her lungs, and in January he closed out a three-decade career fighting forest fires.