From pro ball to pro bass

Kendall Newson aspires to second pro career

A knee injury sidelined Newson when he was with the Miami Dolphins. It was while recovering that he decided he wanted to be involved with fishing and helping children after his athletic career.A knee injury sidelined Newson when he was with the Miami Dolphins. It was while recovering that he decided he wanted to be involved with fishing and helping children after his athletic career.
In 2005 a right knee injury sidelined Newson. His football career wasn't going where he had hoped.

It was during this time that Newson made a life-changing decision. This happened while he was fishing from the bank with his brother Ron at an Everglades Wildlife Management Area called Holy Lands.

Although he had to lean on crutches, Newson and his brother caught more than 100 bass. The joy of that experience hatched a revelation.

“I remember that day clearly,” Newson says. “I made up my mind right then that this was what I was going to do with the rest of my life.”

A big part of that revelation was the need to give back. Newson knows many retired pros that give back by working with youth athletics. His goal was to give to children the things that he loves most in life -- family and fishing.

“It had been on my mind for a long time,” Newson says.

Four years later, Newson founded Teach A Child To Fish (TACTF). With the help of his parents, wife Tiffany, brothers, sisters and volunteers, TACTF has grown and introduces more children to fishing every year.

In 2012 TACTF hosted seven Youth Fishing Clinics. Each one attracted 20 to 70 children. At these events, the children are taught fishing fundamentals, such as casting and tying knots. They also fish, play games and picnic.

Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Police Athletic League (PAL) and other organizations often help at TACTF events. Newson ends each outing with a motivational speech. The children take home fishing tackle donated by Bass Pro Shops.

In 2012 Newson also made time to compete in the Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series, qualifying for the championship and making “great friends.”

While attending a boat show in Atlanta, Newson met Arthur Bronson, founder of the International Federation of Black Bass Anglers (IFBBA) and told him about TACTF and his tournament fishing.

“One day I got a call from Art asking me if I'd like to come with him to a meeting at the Bass Pro Shops headquarters in Springfield,” Newson says.

Bronson didn't have to ask twice. Newson brought his mother, father, wife and brother Keon with him. There, they met Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and several members of the Bass Pro Shops staff.

The folks at Bass Pro Shops were so impressed with Newson's commitment to children and his love and knowledge of bass fishing that they offered to sponsor him for the Bassmaster Opens.

Newson now fishes from a wrapped Z-9 Nitro that displays the TACTF and Bass Pro Shops logos. His first taste of big time bass fishing came at the Bassmaster Southern Open on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga in January 2013.

On the first day of that event, Newson retrieved Rat-L-Traps over submerged grass, a pattern that had produced well for him in practice. He stuck with it all day, but managed only two bass.

He switched gears the second day and fished a wacky-rigged Senko. Newson calls this fishing “funky style” because that's the name his 10-year-old nephew Jeron gave to the wacky rig after seeing it.

Newson twitched the "funky" rig over grass that topped out 2 feet under the surface and boated a limit that pulled him up to 75th place in a field of 193 boats.

“I probably caught 30 bass that day,” Newson says. “I had to weed through a bunch of small ones.”

He is fishing the Bass Pro Shops Southern Opens this season, plus a few Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series events.

“Football is harder physically, but tournament fishing is harder mentally,” Newson says.

With football, you practice a game plan all week and usually stick with it throughout the game, he points out.

“You can work all week on a game plan for a bass tournament, but you have to be prepared to change at any moment,” Newson says. 

See more photos of Kendall Newson.