WAXHAW, N.C. — It's easy to talk patience and perseverance when you're not watching your partner stroke the fish as your rod remains still. But that's exactly the scenario in which Kannon Baker had to endure en route to topping the youth field at the Archdale Bass Club's Sept. 13 tournament on Tillery Lake.
The 16-year-old from Waxhaw, N.C., admitted it was tough watching his adult partner/tournament winner Bill Frazier wailing on the schooling bass, but Baker kept his composure and waited for his opportunity. That moment came when the schoolers vanished and Frazier moved to the bank.
A self-described shallow grass specialist, Baker put his weedless wacky rigged Zoom worm to work and topped the youth field. His limit catch of 11.91 pounds included a 4.30-pounder that ranks as the club's second-largest youth lunker of the year.
A lesson in patience, perhaps seeded by his partner's encouragement, confirmed Baker's belief in mental toughness.
"If you're fishing a team tournament, you can't let the other angler's (success) get you down. Your time will come," Baker said. "Once we went to the bank, I knew there were fish on the bank because they were pushing water through the lake. It was just hitting the right targets.
"Mr. Frazier kept me positive. He told me 'All you can do is stick it out. You just have to find the fish and make the right casts.'"
Between studies and fishing, Baker enjoys spending time with his Remington 270 – both in the woods during deer season and on the target range with his school's shooting sports club he recently helped establish. Baker said that after college, he'll be aiming for the professional fishing circuit; but he's also giving himself options. He plans to study for a career in cardiology.
"I would love to do that; having a pro career is my No. 1 goal," he said. "But if that doesn't work out, I'll have a back-up plan."
If his pro career dreams come true, Baker will no doubt draw his inspiration from Bassmaster Elite Series pros Gerald Swindle and Edwin Evers, two guys he's long admired for keeping their composure in stressful tournament scenarios. Examples like those have helped shape Baker into a poised and productive young angler.