I grew up like a lot of kids in Minnesota; walleye fishing with dad and grandpa, where it didn’t matter if they were biting or not. We. Were. Walleye fishing. This played a major part in shaping me as a fisherman, and I personally didn’t catch the bass bug until I was in high school.
At the time, Minnesota Highschool teams were practically unheard of, and even though I did plenty of fishing, it was still my dream to hit the big time. To fish the FLW. To be able to walk across that with a heavy enough bag to make it to the National Championship. Then maybe, just maybe, it would be more than just a dream. It would be a reality.
I have been a fisherman my entire life. I cannot remember a time when I did not fish therefore, I was born a fisherman.
My college career of bass fishing started with 4 rods and a couple Plano 3700 tackle boxes. Looking back now, I wonder how I made do. It seems like I caught just as many fish before I had all the equipment and rods, before everything got so complicated. But while my arsenal grew, so did the fire that fueled my chase of the dream.
I was standing at the weigh in at Prairie du Chien Wisconsin when they announced that the following summer, the College FLW would be stopping in Wabasha MN. When I heard this, my heart skipped a beat. I had just missed the top 10 cut by 2 ounces, and they just announced that they would be going to my home town. My home water, where I learned everything I ever knew about fishing. I knew at that moment that it was my chance to make the cut.
Our pre-fish couldn’t have gone more according to plan. Every morning like clockwork, we had 20 pounds of smallmouth in 10 minutes or less. However, like smallmouth often do they vanished like ghosts. In my head I knew that we had blown it. Our shot had up and left just like the smallmouth. Instead of gibing up and hoping our plan would work eventually, we idled 4 miles back in the sticks and made a new game plan. We had found a new area the day before that was loaded with largemouth, eating the thing we throw best; swim jigs.
Our first 5 overs were the ones we weighed in. I will never forget my grandpas cheering as we weighed in 14 pounds 15 ounces. That was our moment, and we had just started the dream.
The tournament was called for the Potomac River Maryland. Our perish went alright, finding quality fish instead of quality. One of these quality beasts included a 7 pound post-spawn behemoth that just happened to engulf a custom swimjig, with a vile craw trailer. We thought we had it locked down and would be able to run the tide but, just like the smallmouth on the river, they too disappeared into thin air.
After scrambling we were able to find a promising area of star grass and rock. We didn’t catch any fish on day one, but we hit it just right on day two and were able to bring in 11 pounds 15 ounces with 4 fish. So far, the dream may not be panning out, but it isn’t over yet.
The YETI FLW is coming to Wabasha again on July 18th. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the dream is burning hotter than ever. We aren’t going just to qualify this time; we are going there to win. Just hopefully this time, the smallmouth won’t turn into ghosts.