Castledine heads to the Opens

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Courtesy of Todd Castledine

Todd Castledine is a man who isn’t afraid to get right to the point when he talks. Ask him about his five FLW wins — three at the BFL level along with two Costa events —  and he’ll brush them aside without a second thought. What he really wants you to know is that he won three Angler of the Year titles in the Costa Series.

“I don’t think anyone else has ever done that before, and I almost won a fourth this year when I finished second,” he says with well-deserved pride. “That’s the thing I’m the most proud of from those years.”

But that was yesterday. Things have changed. He’s now fishing all four tournaments in the 2020 Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Opens Division and all four of the Central Division with his eye on a spot in the Bassmaster Elite Series.

He thought that after the split FLW was in a good place. Things didn’t work out that way, and then came the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods. The crowds were huge and festive, and it wasn’t about the anglers. It was about B.A.S.S. and the Classic. 

Still, he didn’t make the move without a lot of thought and research. He spent hour after hour talking with his sponsors, the circuits and countless pro anglers — from every circuit in the country — to get a full picture of what was going on in the industry, with the anglers and with his career. Only then did he make his final decision.

Castledine says he saw things changing a year or so ago. Expenses, especially entry fees, were going up, but tournament winnings weren’t keeping pace. And then came the sale. Things were going in a totally different direction; a direction he didn’t want to go.

The cure for the entry fee and payout issue was to fish more locally along with the Opens. That’s not hard to do in Texas, the land of big, high-dollar independent tournaments. There’s one every weekend within an eight-hour drive of his home. He intends to take advantage of that by fishing every weekend in Texas that he’s not fishing an Open from Jan. 4 through Memorial Day. 

But the new tournament format bothered him just as much as the money, though. He explains it this way:

“I’m a big fish angler. Fishing for smaller fish isn’t something I’ve ever done. Let’s be honest. Here in Texas you need giant bass to win anything at any level — one-day tournament, three-day tournament, big tournament, small tournament. That’s what I’ve targeted all my life. Now’s not the time to change that, not for me anyway.”

He summarizes everything by saying, “In the end it was an individual decision. I wanted to upgrade my career and this is the way to do it. I want to be given the opportunity to highlight my sponsors from a bigger platform, better winnings and I want to fish against the best at a professional level. The Bassmaster Elite Series is the way to do that.”