A Shout-Out to My Boys
One of the coolest things about tournament fishing is the camaraderie that we develop with our fellow anglers. Many of my best friends are my fellow tournament fishermen. On the water, many of us are fierce competitors, but a pretty neat thing happens when tournaments wrap up: it’s called respect. Competing in tournaments, even at a weekend level, requires a lot of time, devotion, energy and money. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the guys that work at this sport, put in their time, do things the hard way, find their own fish, and succeed- no shortcuts, just hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. I know how hard that is to do, especially to do it consistently.
This past weekend, I got to see some of my favorite fishermen experience great success, so rather than bore you with the story of the little ones that I caught, let me tell you their story. I fished the BFL at Percy Priest Lake. The lake was fishing extremely tough. I am proud to say I scratched out a limit, but they were all babies. My friend Adam Wagner; however, boated the best bag of the tournament and won it by three pounds. Adam is such an instinctual fisherman. He adapts so well on the water. When his pattern didn’t quite work like he thought it should, he started fishing stuff that everyone else on the crowded lake was over-looking. At it paid off to the tune of $5000. He gets no help from anybody, he figures out things on his own and when he gets in the zone, he’s almost unstoppable.
A few miles to the northwest on Saturday, the top ten fished the final day of the EverStart Tournament on Kentucky Lake. I had three good friends in the top ten. I’ve known Jeremy Ethridge for 16 years. He’s always been known as a good local fisherman. Jeremy has fished some team trails in the past and won quite a few tournaments. But he has rarely fished any of the pro-am events or what I’d call “big tournaments.” He signed up for the EverStart as an unknown, but as the tournament drew to a close Saturday afternoon, everyone stared in amazement as Jeremy had the tournament won before he even weighed-in a bass on Saturday. After dropping consecutive limits of 23-03 and 27-14, the tournament was over before the day started. Other than the obvious financial benefit to Jeremy and his family, the best part of this win is that he did it the right way. He had several friends really catching them in practice telling him what he needed to do, but he went 180 degrees in the opposite direction, figured out something special and milked it to the biggest win of his life.
Finishing in 3rd was Brent Anderson. A couple years ago Brent quit his job and started bass fishing full time. I’d never have the guts to do something like that. Since that time, he has won a bunch of tournaments, qualified for this year’s All American, finished 2nd at the Weekend Series National Championship, and now a 3rd place finish in an EverStart. Brent was the most consistent of any angler in the tournament weighing in 14 pounds on day 1, and 16 on days 2 and 3. When I talked to him before the tournament, he felt like he wasn’t on anything. When I talked to him after day 2, he felt like he was out of fish. Yet, somehow, he just kept catching them. Brent does things his own way. I’ve tried to help him in the past, but in his typical fashion, he ignores my advice and catches them much better than I could have doing what I recommended.
Todd Hollowell finished 6th in the EverStart. Todd is an insurance agent who owns his own business and doesn’t get to fish as much as many of the guys out there. He’s a great family man and Christian. I admire him more for that than for his fishing prowess, but he did a spectacular job nonetheless. Team Hollowell also posted a top finish on the co-angler side with Todd’s Dad, Terry, finishing third. Terry Hollowell didn’t know me from Adam when I showed up at his cabin near Kentucky Lake on the recommendation of Todd and his brother Troy. Not only did he put me up, he drove me all around Paris one late night trying to find a place for me to get something to eat because I was starving and stayed on the lake until all the restaurants were closed. I had only known the guy for five minutes when he volunteered to drive me all over God’s creation. Great job Hollowells!
I’ve been blessed to have had some success in fishing tournaments in the past. To me the most memorable part of that success was not the fish catching, or the trip to the bank, it was the congratulatory calls from good friends whom I greatly respect, it was the high-fives and fist bumps, the emails and texts, and it was the respect that these guys gave me. So this is my shout out to my boys. I’m proud of you and so glad I got to see you succeed. Enjoy every minute of it!
Until next time, keep chunkin’ and windin’
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