Throughout the 2012 season we will be taking a look at the heart of B.A.S.S., from the top pros to the lesser-known hopefuls, from the fans to the people behind the stage. “Why we do it” looks to celebrate the differences in the people of B.A.S.S. and the passion that brings everyone together.
TAVARES, Fla. - What started as another warm Florida morning on the Harris Chain would soon turn 24-year-old Charlie Machek from professional tournament fishing hopeful into the “Fish Charmer.” (To view photos of Charlie Machek on Day Two)
It was late on the second day of competition in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open and Machek had zero keepers in the boat and was starting to sweat. He decided to move farther back into a canal he had fished earlier that morning.
“I pulled into that canal and probably the second dock I hit with a shaky head I caught a 5-pounder,” Machek said. “My worm got bunched up on my hook and my boat drifted into a dock across the way. When it happened, a 6-pounder jumped out of the water and hit the gunwhale of the boat. Another fish jumped at the seawall in front of me. Then, I turned around and a 2-pounder was sitting on the back deck.”
A keeper largemouth had jumped into his boat - remarkable, but not exactly a sporting method of angling. He had to throw the bass back. At that point, the adrenaline was flowing and with less than 30 minutes remaining he caught two more keepers and then it was time to head back in. When tournament director Chris Bowes heard the story, the nickname “Fish Charmer” was born.
Machek wasn’t done charming fish. After the weigh-in, he called up Carson Rejzer, a buddy of his from college, who was also fishing the tournament. The two of them loaded up his boat and they were back on the water in minutes.
“I came all the way down to Florida to catch big fish and had a terrible practice and tournament,” Machek said. “In the last 30 minutes, I started catching them and had to leave them biting. I want to go get my money’s worth.”
The events at the end of the day were highlights capping off an otherwise disappointing week for Machek. He finished the tournament in 84th place with 16 pounds over two days, well outside the kind of showing he needs to have if he wants to qualify for the Elite Series, an eventual goal of his.
“I’ve wanted to do this since high school, when my buddies and I would compete in little tournaments against each other,” Machek said. “We went from fishing then in our Pond Prowlers to starting up the bass team at Virginia Tech. That’s when it became a legit thing that could be done.”
With success at the college level, including a few televised events, Machek got a taste of the big time. He wanted more.
“I fished all four years in college and when I graduated, I got a job,” Machek said. “Now it’s time to pursue the dream of making fishing my job. My college resume is pretty good. Now it’s time to build my professional resume.”
The biggest step Machek has taken towards that goal was securing his first big sponsor, never an easy task for a young angler just getting his initiation into the professional ranks.
“Last year, when I made the jump up to the Opens, I got my first big paying sponsorship with Hurst’s HamBeens,” Machek said. “You can’t do this without help. Having someone behind you: friends, family, sponsors – can’t do it without them.”
So why does Charlie Machek do it?
In college, Machek and the Virginia Tech bass team were hosting their first tournament. It was the beginning of March and between 50 and 60 boats showed up from schools across the country to brave the frigid weather.
“It was 30 degrees out and everything had ice on it – the rods, ramp…everything,” Machek said. “We were running and there was a hailstorm. My buddy stopped to put on his rainsuit and he shouted, ‘Why do we do this? Because it’s so much fun!’
“This was in 20-degree weather with hail the size of marbles coming down. It’s the thrill.”