Professional Tournament Honors:
How I got Started
I competed in wrestling, running and tennis in high school and college. I used to bass fish every chance I got in between all my other sports commitments. I was in the dark about tournament bass fishing. I didn’t know the sport even existed until I was a sophomore in college. I couldn’t believe there was such a thing as bass tournaments and my fishing career was launched almost immediately. I joined my first bass club – Garden State Bassmasters in 1988 and started competing in state wide tournaments. After spending several years learning and developing my game, I qualified for the Bassmaster Top 100. So in 1997, I took a leave of absence from my Engineering career and took the plunge into professional fishing. It’s been fourteen years and I am still amazed that I am able to make professional bass fishing my career.
Stories from the trail
The second major fishing tournament I ever fished took place on the Potomac River in Maryland. I was very excited about this tournament for a couple of reasons. My 1st major tournament was on the 1000 islands in NY. I finished a dismal 152nd place out of a field of 300, right in the middle of the pack. I was very disappointed and I couldn’t wait for the Potomac River, which was the next tournament on the schedule for the invitationals that year.
I had fished the Potomac for many years and I was really looking forward to taking a shot at this event. After the first day I found myself right in the mix sitting in about 15th place. Day two I raised my game and moved up in the top ten. I was so excited I could hardly sleep the night before the last day. The final day of competition went very well for me as I brought another good bag to the scales and fished in second place. I won my first Ranger Boat. This was a dream come true.
Rick Lilligard easily won the tournament finishing about seven pounds in front of me. However, I did edge out Kevin VanDam who finished third in the tournament. At the time Kevin was building the reputation of being a dominant angler. I admired Kevin a lot and was trilled to have finished ahead of him in the tournament. This was the first top ten in professional completion I would achieve. This finish, more than any other, gave me the confidence I needed to turn professional full time.