Baggett takes tough lessons to Red River

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Shaye Baker
Jason Baggett has returned to the tournament scene after the death of his parents and a years-long legal battle.

MANSFIELD, Ark. — When Jason Baggett was at the first Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open of the season, his trolling motor blew. He texted his son, Greyson, who is 12 years old. “I just hosed my trolling motor,” wrote Baggett.

The young Baggett is wise beyond his years, at least according to the response he sent his dad:

“The devil’s gonna throw stuff at you, but you just gotta knock it out of the park.”

Now, heading into the second Central Open of the season, this week on the Red River, Jason Baggett is hoping to do as his son says and knock it right out of that park.

Baggett has been busy learning tough lessons the last few years. He suffered through the death of his mother in 1997, followed several years later by the death of his father, which prompted a long, miserable legal battle among family members regarding his parents’ business and estate.

Meanwhile, his own business was suffering, too. He tried going semi-pro in the bass fishing world, but he realized quickly he didn’t have the business head for it yet and he lacked the confidence that is required to do well on the circuit.

Through all of his tribulations, Baggett began to learn what mattered.

“Faith and family kept me going,” Baggett said. “They kept my focus centered.”

This week at the Open, he’ll be focused on getting a top finish on the Red River. But as soon as he gets home, his mind will be back on his newest passion and labor of love, Contingense.com.

Contingense is a free website he developed for tournament anglers who are looking for more ways to make money using corporate contingency programs, such as Skeeter Boats’ Real Money or Triton Boats’ Gold programs.

“I believe if you provide a kick-butt product, the money will come find you,” he said.

Baggett runs a regional newspaper, so he’s not trying to make money with his website. He just saw a need in the fishing world and worked to fill it.

“Tournament fishing is tough,” Baggett said, “and it can be very financially humbling.”

He’s learned that the hard way. And that’s why he wants to help other tournament anglers.

Tournament fishing can also be a second family. When Baggett’s dad died three years ago, his fishing family reached out to him.

“People were coming out of every corner, wishing me the best, offering me places to stay, giving me kind words,” said Baggett. “It was amazing. People don’t know how tight-knit this community is.”

The community that’s supported him is part of the sport that calms him. When he’s on the water, all his troubles disappear for a while.

“It’s just between you and the fish,” Baggett said. “There’s no demons left.”