There are at least two reasons Kevin Ledoux of Choctaw, Okla., would like nothing better than to qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic through his first year as a Bassmaster Elite Series pro.
No. 1: He’s an Oklahoma native, and the 2013 Classic will be on Grand Lake out of Tulsa, Okla.
No. 2: Grand Lake is where he got his start in bass competitions, and it’s his favorite fishery.
While he’d love a chance at a Grand Lake Classic, he is not expecting to get it. Landing a Classic entry is “a lofty goal” for an Elite rookie, he said.
“It’s on my radar, but my goals for the first year are to survive, figure out how everything works, get into competing on just three days of practice,” he said.
Right now he’s immersed in the details of turning Elite: dogging sponsorship leads, sorting out travel logistics, lining up accessories for his new boat — a Bass Cat Cougar with a Mercury 250 OptiMax Pro XS — and pinning down the wrap design.
Ledoux, 32, has been working for this day for years. Fishing since he was a kid in his hometown of Konawa, Okla., he did not enter tournaments until 2004 (also when he first fished Grand Lake). By 2005, he was hooked on competing.
“At that point, I made it a goal to qualify for the Elite Series,” he said.
He got into the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open circuit in 2008, entering as a pro. Electing to compete on the pro side his first year out was probably a mistake, he said.
“Those guys are good. If you can fish as a co-angler for a few years, you can learn a lot, and I probably should have gone that way,” he said.
But he felt he had to play catch-up. In an era marked by pros reaching Elite status in their 20s, or even in their teens, Ledoux, who will be 33 when the Elite season begins in March, said he feels he started competing late in life.
Not that he hasn’t been busy. He’s married (no kids), and has a job as an electrician working on high-voltage industrial motors. The work is dangerous. Before he begins a job, he has to suit up in protective gear, including his hands. Try handling tricky equipment while wearing two layers of gloves.
“It’s extremely hard,” he said. “You need to take your time and pay attention to what you’re doing, but I love the work.”
So far, the same goes for his fishing job. For the 2012 season, he elected to compete in the three Central Opens as well as in the eight Elite regular-season events. All the Elite stops are unknowns to him, and he hasn’t been able to scout any of the fisheries.
“It’s all going to be new to me this year,” he said. “It’s a risk, but my family supports my decision to get into the Elite Series. Everyone in my family let me know that if it was my dream, then I should chase it.”