The Linders fished the Rainy Lake tournament six times, and Troy found himself looking forward to it all year.
“That gave me the bass tournament bug,” Troy says.
For the past seven years, Troy has been fishing as many as 20 pro-am and team bass tournaments a year. He entered his first Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open as a co-angler to test the water. That was the final Western Open, which was held in 2005 at Shasta Lake in northern California.
“I knew nothing then,” Troy says. “I still don’t feel like I know that much.”
After one year of fishing various pro-am tournaments as an amateur, Troy took a premature leap of faith to the front of the boat. He regards this as his biggest mistake.
“I would have learned faster if I had fished as an amateur for two or three years,” Troy says. “I was too green to be running my own show.”
Despite Troy’s “mistake” he is beginning to fare well in bass tournaments, such as his 22nd place finish at Amistad. It was his first Bassmaster Open tournament since the Shasta event in 2005. This season Troy will be fishing the rest of the Central Opens and the Northern Opens.
“I think my best chance to qualify for the Elite Series is through the Northern Opens,” Troy said. “St. Clair and Champlain are clear lakes that have good smallmouth populations.”
Smallmouth bass are in Troy’s wheelhouse. Should he achieve his goal of qualifying for the Elite Series, Troy will surely join the country’s top 100 bass fishermen on the tour.
“I would love to be a fulltime pro,” Troy says. “I still have that fire to compete, and you can stay strong in this sport into your 60s and 70s.”