Fletcher and Hunter Shryock took a different turn with the course of what is otherwise defined as sibling rivalry between two brothers. Twice they have shared the same competitive sports, and both times one mentored the other towards success.
At the age of 14, Fletcher qualified for his pro license in the sport of motocross. He raced for three years until forced into retirement by a shoulder injury in 2009. Even then, his true passion was bass fishing. Two years later, he competed in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, winning an event in 2011. That year he qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Season and joined the tour the next season. Now 33, Fletcher is in his seventh season of competition.
Like his brother, Hunter joined the motocross circuit, competing in the AMA Supercross Series beginning at age 16. Injuries forced him to retire at the age of 21. All the while, the younger sibling watched as Fletcher’s interest grew from fun fishing to serious competition.
Competing defines the brothers, and Fletcher mentored Hunter through the same entry path into the Elite Series.
“He taught me everything, from how to back a boat down a ramp to reading electronics and catching smallmouth out in the middle of Lake Erie,” said Hunter.
In 2013, Hunter fished the Opens for the first time from a boat he purchased the previous year. Now, the brothers both carry pro cards, this time for the Elite Series, with Hunter currently fishing his rookie season.
What defines this straight-up brotherhood between the Shryocks? These questions and their answers provide the meaning.
You both came from another pro sport. Why the switch to bass fishing and who came first?
My brother. When he started doing well I considered bass fishing as a sport to fill the competitive void after racing ended. I would not be here, or even fishing, had it not been for him. He’s basically created a clone of himself.
I was already into it after leaving racing. I always loved to fish, and it was the next best thing to racing for me as a competition sport. Just the same pure adrenaline of racing, without the injuries.
Describe each other as competitors.
Flecher wants to do well, not just beat me personally, but we both are in the same state of mind. He’s not the kind of guy who aims to cut you out, but he is very competitive.
Hunter is that kind of competitor that can block everything else out and focus on the game, be in the moment. He’s been that way his whole life. He’s got tunnel vision. Hunter is very focused and everything outside of that, any distractions, just fall by the wayside.
What kind of dude is he away from the lake?
Fletcher is fun, outgoing and pretty loose. There are other times when we go fishing that he gets pretty wrapped up about it. But when we are off it’s a laid back time.
We have a lot of fun hanging out and we can mix the fun with the fishing.
What makes your brotherhood click in this sport?
Obviously, being brothers in this sport we pull for each other. We share fishing areas, lures, everything. We want each other to do the very best they can. I mean, we are brothers, and you can’t get any closer than that.
I think some people believe there is a rivalry between us when it’s just the opposite. It’s never really been that way. We are competing against the fish and 105 other guys, so teaming up is what we do.
What drives you to compete?
Getting beat, losing. I hate to lose. In this sport you lose a lot, and when you do well that can drive you for an entire season.
I wanted to become a Bassmaster pro ever since I was little, even when racing motocross. I didn’t make it racing and had regrets that I did not. So now, I want to make it in bass fishing. This is my second profession, second try in a professional sport, and I want to make it stick this time.
What annoys you about him?
He always changes things right before the tournament, even something so minute as dying pinchers on a soft plastic crawfish. Then he’ll tell me ‘that’s the deal’ and it gets in my head. He’s really anal about that stuff and it rubs off on me.
His tunnel vision, that he’s capable of dialing into whatever he’s doing at the time and tune out everything else.
What impresses you about him?
It’s his determination to always keep on learning. At some point you reach a level in this sport, or any sport, where you don’t think it’s necessary to keep learning. He’s still at the same level of learning as he was at the beginning. That’s rubbed off on me, and I look up to him for it. He definitely puts his time in.
The time he puts into the work. I don’t think he’s been home at all this year. It’s impressive to see him so focused all the time. It’s difficult to make that work for an entire season, and he’s making it work, and work well.
What’s something that most people don’t know about him?
He is a neat freak, clean freak. He likes to have everything in place. Truck, boat, all of it. I’m not as bad and can let it go. He can’t do it. It’s got to all be clean, in place, all the time.
When we used to race he broke everything, every bike, helmet, all of it. He destroyed everything he had. Now that he’s grown up it’s not so bad. We used to call him ‘Boomer’ because everything he touched just went ‘boom’ and broke.