2011 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #2 Lake Norman - Charlotte, NC, Mar 24 - 26, 2011

Go Fletcher!

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Charlie Hartley

How about that young man from my neighborhood! He gave a darn good accounting of himself last week. I, for one, couldn't be happier about it. Stories like his are one of the things that make this sport of bass fishing so great.

Here's a 25-year-old — Fletcher Shryock — who's been fishing seriously (whatever that means) for a couple of years who goes out and wins a big, professional-grade tournament against some of the best anglers on the planet. He won it convincingly, too.

For his efforts and talents he earned a spot in next year's Bassmaster Classic as well as some cash and a boat. I'd say that's a good weekend's pay.

I don't know a thing about him except that he lives not too far from me and he likes to bass fish. You have to figure, however, that he'll make a credible showing in the other events. At least I hope so. He seemed to be polite and give respectable interviews, so he's off to a good start as far as I'm concerned.

He has to be an inspiration to every kid in the country right now who wants to be a bass pro. I mean, he's obviously learned a lot about catching bass to win an Open like he did. Look at that from the perspective of an up and coming angler, and you'll see where I'm coming from. It's a positive at a time when we need positives. I love it!

Anyway, I'm on Lake Lanier practicing for the PAA tournament this weekend. It was 38 degrees when I launched this morning with rain, thunder and lightening. No matter, I'm having a good time.

The water's still cold but there are some fish on the beds. It's probably the supermoon we've all experienced. The pull is so hard the fish can't resist it even if the water's not right. It'll be interesting to see if they stay on the beds or if they move off because of the weather.

That's the sort of thing I think about. It's what keeps me going after a couple of bad tournaments. I say bad only in reference to my finishes. In truth, I love every one of them. There's an adrenalin rush even when you aren't catching bass. It's the thrill, the anticipation. That's what keeps me off the couch and on the water.

By the way, I could set a new personal best this spring. I fished two Elite Series events, then an Open, now a PAA, two more Elite Events and then another PAA. By my count that's seven tournaments in a row, plus one heck of a lot of driving.

I've always said that the only cure for a tough tournament is to fish another one. I'll be following my own advice this year, at least for now. Hopefully, I won't need a bad tournament cure all spring.

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