“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”
NHL Legend, Wayne Gretzky
Perhaps the quote is a bit cliché, but after reading this story I believe you’ll find it to be quite accurate. If you’re a die-hard bass fisherman like myself, you just may find it to be an inspiration worth following.
Recently, while competing in the Bassmaster Central Open on Lake Amistad, I got the pleasure of watching my good friend and fellow Minnesotan Andy Young, take a shot that he’ll never forget, a shot that turned his biggest dreams into a reality. On that final Saturday, Andy did what many deemed the impossible by edging out Bassmaster Elite Series angler, Stephen Browning by a mere ounce to claim the top spot and punch his ticket into the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
Andy’s story leading up to his win may not be the most dramatic. I’m sure there are other anglers that have had to endure much more to accomplish their dream. Andy’s is more of a workingman’s story, a sheet metal fabricator who works nights to fund his bass fishing addiction by day. A guy that just loves to fish and no matter the elements built his reputation by being the first one on the water and the last one off.
After earning his stripes competing in the upper Midwest and collecting his fair share of tournament hardware, his urge to compete nationally put the wheels in motion and with the support of his friends, family and sponsors such as Kruger Farms, Andy signed up for the 2013 Bassmaster Central Opens. His first season brought both ups and downs, which was to be expected from an Open rookie but in the end, built the much-needed confidence that he could compete on the bigger stage.
The 2014 Bassmaster Central Opens created a new opportunity and the first stop on the schedule set the stage for something special. Lake Amistad, a fishery known as a power fishing lake that’s generally dominating by the traditional Texas hammers and Elite Series anglers that frequent the border lake annually. Instead, Amistad was fishing as stingy as ever, bound by a never-ending record cold front and rising water, playing perfectly for a guy from Minnesota who’s weathered for frigid temps and who cut his teeth finesse fishing for weary bass on his northern stomping grounds.
Practice started favorably and despite the tough conditions, Andy patterned fish by throwing a Hog Farmer Bait Company Umbrella Rig equipped with Big Bite Cane Thumpers and 1/8th oz. Outkast Money Jigs, over long extended underwater points. “It took a lot of casts with no results, but when I did get bit, it was a good one”, proclaims Andy, who in the first day of practice caught what was surely his new personal best with a bass weighing somewhere around the 10 pound mark.
As practice drew on, the lack of bites started to prove worrisome and forced him to find a secondary pattern. As anglers struggled to put anything together, Andy started locating small schools of keeper bass dropshotting a Biovex Kolt Fish Tail (Green Pumpkin) on the ends of long extended points and humps near the main river channel. “These weren’t the fish that would traditionally win on a powerhouse like Amistad”, admits Andy. “However, I don’t think Amistad’s ever fished as challenging as what we were faced with on that particular weekend and just this one time, those fish might be a real player”.
Andy’s intuition proved correct and on and a day that brought high winds, sleet and freezing temps, Andy relied on his dropshot to get off to a quick start, weighing a limit for 12.1 pounds and sat strong in 7th place after day one. Most all his bass succumbed to the Biovex Kolt Fish Tail on a dropshot. “These bass were not in the “eating” mood but the Biovex Kolt Fish Tail was designed on the pressured lakes of Japan and was just the bait to trigger these weary bass into biting”, says Andy. “No matter the conditions, it’s a bait I’ve won lots of money on and just gives me confidence on the water.”
Day two and things started to change, after only catching a couple on his dropshot, Andy went back to his big fish pattern of chucking around a Hog Farmer 5 Wire 8 Blade Umbrella Rig and it paid off with two big bites. Despite weighing only 4 fish, they excelled him into 2nd place with a two-day total weighing 25.12.
Despite sitting in 2nd place going into the final day, most people including Andy thought catching the leader was almost impossible being he was 10 pounds off the pace. Amistad was fishing tough though and after only catching a couple small ones on his dropshot, he quickly reverted back to the Hog Farmer rig, cranked up his Hydrowave and slowly worked up a limit. As the afternoon wore on, he delivered a tournament-changing blow by boating a 7-pound giant that choked his rig and turned things very real in a single moment. Driving off the momentum, he went on to cull a couple more times. At one point he turned and yelled to a spectator boat that his last fish only culled a ounce or two, little did he know that cull would be the biggest cull of his entire life.
Back at weigh-in, the news circulated the current leader struggled to put together a limit; proof of just how stingy Amistad was fishing. All eyes turned to Andy and Elite Series angler Stephen Browning, who in similar fashion, had a big final day.
In a showdown that could only be dreamed up by an aspiring professional angler, Andy edged Browning by a single ounce and punched his ticket to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
As a friend, I couldn’t of been happier for Andy watching his dream turn into a reality. As a competitor, I couldn’t have been more inspired. His win proved that with hard work, determination and a pure love for the sport, dreams do come true for those that chase them.
To follow Andy’s road to the Classic and for added tips and techniques, visit his website at www.AndyYoungFishing.com.
Biovex (www.BiovexUSA.com) will soon be carried by Kruger Farms, for more information on them and the rest of Andy’s arsenal, please visit their website at www.KrugerFarms.com. For more information on the Hog Farmer Rig, visit their website at www.HogFarmerBaits.com.
Written by: Josh Douglas
About the Author – Josh Douglas is a professional angler and fishing guide on Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka who also specializes in electronics training. When not on the water, he enjoys sharing his passion of bass fishing through numerous outlets including his personal website, www.JoshDouglasFishing.com