My world: Family, bass fishing and hurricanes

I’m Drew Benton, a Bassmaster Elite Series angler, and I’ll be doing two columns a month for the foreseeable future. I would have liked to have had this one up before now but I live in Panama City, Fla. We got slammed by the hurricane. 

Beyond that I thought you’d like to know a little about my life and my career. 

Florida is my home state. I’ve lived here all my life. I met my wife, Amanda, here as well. It’s her home state, too. We have a son, Cade. He’s 4 years old.

I started fishing right out of college. Before that I worked on a marketing degree and played baseball in college. My first tournaments were not with B.A.S.S. or FLW. But, in 2012 I decided to go for it. I fished the Opens with my eye on the Elites. I didn’t make it.

In 2013 I fished with FLW. I won my first tournament over there. I was also named their Rookie of the Year. 

I was really proud of my success with FLW. But, I still had the B.A.S.S. bug. I couldn’t shake it. There’s something about that name, the storied history that goes back decades and the Bassmaster Classic that gets into your head and into your heart. Once it gets in there, it doesn’t leave.  

So, rather than fight it, I made the decision to try again in 2015. This time I was successful. In 2016 I was a Bassmaster Elite Series angler, and that same year I won the Elite Series Rookie of the Year. 

As of today I’ve won one B.A.S.S. event. It was the  Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department this year. I’m really proud of that win. I means that I’ve won a top level tournament on both the B.A.S.S. and FLW Circuits. 

But maybe what I’m even more proud of is that I won Rookie of the Year in both circuits. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve been told no one else has accomplished that. If somebody knows for sure, let me know.  

Beyond those things I qualified for, and fished in, the 2017 Bassmaster Classic. And, I’ll be fishing the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods next March on the Tennessee River. My first experience was out of this world, all the excitement and media. I expect 2019 to be the same. 

That’s about all there is to my career for now. Let’s turn to the hurricane.

First off, let me say that I’ve never been through anything like it, and neither has anybody else in my family. We’re Florida people. We’ve seen storms before. We made the decision to stay put and ride this one out. But in the last few hours before it made landfall it increased in intensity — a lot. At that point we had no choice but to stay put and hope for the best. 

They said that Mexico Beach was the center. If that’s true, all I can say is that I wish them the best because they got it bad. Our community is in shambles, rubble and debris everywhere. There’s even railroad cars turned upside down.  

We were lucky, though. Our house took it pretty well except for the roof which is partly gone and will need to be replaced. The thing is, though, our furniture and other possessions are not hurt for the most part. That something a lot of people don’t think about. The house is one thing, but inside it is everything you own. It’s your world. 

My fishing garage has a lot of damage and a lot of water got in it. The good thing about that is that most fishing equipment is made to withstand water. It’ll dry out without too much damage. I might have to replace some hooks and hardware, but overall that’ll be no big deal.

My parents weren’t so lucky. They had massive damage to their house and are living with us. Amanda’s family is in pretty good shape except for one nephew who is living with us. We have two generators — they don’t expect power to be up before two or three more weeks — so we’re making it OK at this point.

I’ll do my best to post another column in a couple of weeks. Until then bass fishing is on the back burner. Chain saws and shovels have replaced rods and reels.