SANDUSKY, Ohio — It was only last year that Hunter Shryock learned the basics of how to launch a boat. Fishing in a bass tournament was a distant goal.
There were complex and advanced skills to master. Like how to drop shot. How to read offshore structure and decipher pixels on a fishfinder. Neither skill is easy to learn, much less master after the first year.
Shryock can now say he’s done all of the above. And there might even be more to come. Shryock is in the unlikely position to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
After today, Shryock is in second place at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open # 3 on Lake Erie. Only ounces separate him from leader Michael Iaconelli, who is here on a last-chance try to qualify for the Classic.
Shryock gives credit for learning all of the above from his brother Fletcher, 27, a pro on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour.
“He taught me everything,” said the younger sibling, 25. “I learned it all from him. Launching a boat, drop shotting, everything.”
There’s a familiar pattern developing here, and it’s only indirectly connected with bass fishing.
Both Shryocks nurtured their competitive drive at an early age. They competed professionally on the motocross circuit. Hunter’s career began at age 18 and ended when he was 21.
Then he got bored.
“I quit three years ago and was looking for something to fill the competitive drive,” he said. “Fletcher was doing well and I thought I might be able to do the same thing at some point.”
The process started at the boat ramp. It quickly moved on to the depths of Lake Erie. The kid brother learned quickly.
“It all translated over really well,” said Hunter. “We raced as a family thing and it taught us both about the importance of hard work and dedication.”
“I can’t get enough of it,” he added. “I’ve got the tournament bug and it’s just a fun thing to do.”
Shryock’s carefree attitude is apparent by how he describes reading a fishfinder.
“It’s like playing a video game,” he said. “It’s the fun side of going out, using the electronics and putting the drop shot on them.”
Shryock already knows the mindset it takes to excel in a competitive environment.
“In motocross you’re 'game on' for about a half-hour and it’s over,” he said. “In a tournament it can be eight hours. Here, you’ve got a lot of time, sometimes too much time, to second-guess things.
“But you can’t do that and do well in this game,” he continued.
“You make a mistake, you’ve got to pick yourself back up and move on.”
That’s not a statement easily said by someone who just last year learned how to launch a boat. There could indeed be more to come.