We often evaluate Bassmaster Elite Series anglers by their fishing prowess, but their actions off the water can carry just as much importance in the kind of “pro” they are.
Sometimes that goes overlooked.
So, let me tell you about Derek Hudnall. Yeah, he’s the guy that got disqualified for practicing Lake Hartwell the day the lake went off limits.
He simply got his days mixed up – an honest mistake – and one he reported to B.A.S.S. the minute he realized the error.
I’ve covered Bassmaster events for almost two decades and seen other guys get DQed. It sucks for the angler, especially one like Hudnall in his rookie year on the Elites.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen some disqualified anglers blame someone else, blame lack of clarity in the rules or some other circumstance rather than admit they just plain screwed up.
Not Hudnall. The dude was 100 percent accountable for his mistake, something you rarely see in any sport when a rule is broken.
But what transpired next is what really made me a huge fan of this young Louisiana angler.
After reporting to B.A.S.S. officials he had violated a rule, he jumped onto social media and admitted he screwed up.
And that’s not all.
He showed up at the Hartwell tournament – on his own dime – and eagerly supported his fellow anglers at the weigh-in.
If that weren’t enough, he drove a camera boat for Bassmaster media and even jumped in one of the leader’s boats and operated a camera for Bassmaster LIVE.
I mean, are you kidding me? Some guys wouldn’t show their faces at an event from which they had been DQed, but Hudnall was there, smiling and offering his help and encouragement.
The DQ cost him valuable Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year points, but he sure gained a lot of respect from me and the rest of the bass fishing world.
We all screw up; me as often as anyone. But throughout my life I’ve tried to be accountable for my actions and continually express to my sons the importance of being accountable for everything they do.
Derek Hudnall exemplifies that.
My advice for any young Bassmaster fan who wants to follow or make a Bassmaster pro their hero, he’s your guy.
He’s my guy. He’s the kind of person I’m trying to teach my children to be.
Sure, he self-reported his error. That’s what you should do. But what he did afterwards showed a lot of class.
And we can all learn from that.