2013 Elite Series Plano Championship Chase Lake St. Clair/Detroit River - Detroit, MI, Aug 22 - 25, 2013

North Carolina’s Hank Cherry takes Rookie of the Year title

While weather factors and the bass bite can’t be predicted, one thing is certain. Cherry will have the lucky hat with him on Lake Guntersville because, “It never leaves the boat.”

When he’s home, Cherry enjoys taking his 3 1/2-year-old son, Christian, fishing, a sport he learned from his great grandmother and his father.

“When I got old enough to cast, I took a lot of trips to Lake Wiley,” Cherry said. “One day, I caught two 7-pounders on back-to-back casts, and I was hooked after that.”

That early start led to tournament fishing , in which he excelled.

“One day, I sat down with my wife to talk about fishing (Bassmaster) Opens,” said Cherry, who was working as a liquor brand manager for a distributing company. “We looked at the schedules, and they were decent and not too expensive. I said, ‘Let’s give it a couple of years and see what happens.’”

After two years of fishing the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Opens, Cherry prepared for the October 2012 Smith Lake Opens tournament, the third and final event of his second season.

“When I left for Smith Lake, I said, ‘If I qualify, this is it. If not, I come home.’ Then I won by 1 ounce,” Cherry said.

Not only did he earn enough points to qualify for the Elite Series, but the win also ensured a berth in the Classic.

He’s open about his faith, which tells him he’s chosen the right path, not only for himself but for his wife, Jaclyn, his baby daughter, Bella Grace, and his son.

“It wasn’t too long ago that I was baptized,” Cherry said. “It put me at peace. I’ve learned there’s a time and place for everything, and everything is possible in God’s time. I’m true to my family and true to my faith. You choose your own path. God gives us all the groundwork. It’s up to us to make sure we walk the right path and choose the right direction.”

With his designation as ROY, Cherry earned an instant-in for Toyota All-Star Week and Evan Williams Bourbon Championship. The competition, which will showcase the talents of 14 Elite anglers, will take place Sept. 27-29 on Michigan’s Muskegon Lake.

The postseason is one last Bassmaster tournament for the year, but for Cherry, his leap of faith in becoming a bass fishing pro is always on his mind.

“Every day, I wake and tell myself, it’s happening,” Cherry said. “I’m doing it.”