BULL SHOALS, Ark. – With his day not working out anything like he had planned, Fletcher Shryock was down, down, down.
The Elite Series rookie was just one of five pros who didn’t weigh a limit on Day One of the TroKar Quest on Bull Shoals Lake. He totaled 8 pounds, 4 ounces and is third from last in 97th place.
“When you’re down like me, you no longer become a threat.” Shryock said.
When Shryock came off stage, he was upset with his below average performance. Veteran angler Ish Monroe, who won the last Elite event on Okeechobee, came over, took Shryock to the side, gave him a few choice words of advice and a pat on the back. Monroe even offered a lure suggestion.
That obviously came as a shock to Shryock. Camaraderie between a pro and a rookie can be a rare experience.
“I figured coming into the Elite Series that it would be very cutthroat and everyone would be out to get you,” Shryock said, “but I’m quickly learning it’s just the opposite.”
Brandon Palaniuk, who sacked 21-9 for the lead, said he can relate to that. He’s had a rocky start for the 2012 season and knows how easily an angler can beat up his own noggin.
“The toughest part of this game is making the right decisions and keeping your head right mentally,” he said. “My advice to Fletcher is to remember that tomorrow is a new day.”
The Elite Series is a fierce group of competitors who by nature have to take every inch they can. It can be a brutal, outside-looking-in experience for a rookie. Yet off the water, they are a band of brothers and can be a source of motivation.
“After a day like today, it’s embarrassing and then to have those guys pick you up, it’s just really awesome,” Shryock said. “It gives me a breath of fresh air to go out tomorrow and go make up some ground.”