Callins thrilled with tournament debut

We hear anglers describe themselves with a wide range of terms and imagery, most of which lean toward the clinched-teeth, wrinkled brow, hyper-serious stuff. Nothing wrong with that, but “kid in a candy store?”

We don’t often hear that one. But maybe we should. Maybe we should all be more like co-angler Shawn Callins who brings a ton of appreciation and enthusiasm to his tournament debut in the Bassmaster Central Open on the Arkansas River. 

Asked to reflect on Day 1 of his first competitive event, the Mangum, Okla., angler made no attempt to suppress his obvious elation. 

“To me, it’s like a kid in a candy store; going out there and getting to throw all your different lures,” Callins said. “It was very competitive, and I really enjoyed it.” 

That statement rings particularly meaningful considering that a stingy river left him without a keeper. No worries, goose eggs happen across the board, but Callins said he’s undeterred.

“Hopefully tomorrow’s a better day, and I’m going to keep on fighting,” he beamed.

Callins said he approached Day 1 with a mix of Keitech swimbaits, Chatterbaits and Texas rigs. For Day 2, he’s gonna step on the gas by focusing more on the bladed jig, a squarebill and his signature deal — a buzzbait.

Callins said he’s expecting success, but regardless of the outcome, he’s here to learn and grow. See, the Arkansas River tournament is much more than a random venture for Shawn Callins; rather, it’s the culmination of a lifetime steeped in angling tradition. 

“I’ve been fishing since I was knee-high to a Junebug,” he said. “I’ve been watching The Bassmasters (for several years). Me and my dad used to get up on Saturday mornings when I was younger and watch Jimmy Houston and some of the tournaments. 

“I’ve always had the dream of fishing a tournament, so I joined the North Oklahoma City Bassmasters Club this year, and I was eligible to put in for this tournament. I was thinking I’d be on the waiting list and when I was confirmed, it was like a dream come true.”

Cool story, but hearing Callins’ affinity for the rod-bending arts, it kinda begs the question?

“Dude, where you been?”

In fairness, timing is always a personal decision, but we’re happy Callins’ moment finally came. And for anyone considering following in his footsteps, he offers this advice: 

“Man, just step out on faith and give it a try. If it’s something you have your heart set on doing, don’t give up; just make it happen.” 

Pretty good advice for everyone, when you think about it. 

Maybe that’s the point. Maybe this angler’s authentic enthusiasm and pure enjoyment can remind us all how important, how refreshing, how renewing it is to simply live the moment.

All the best, Shawn Callins. The sport needs what you’ve got.