Commitment counts for Hawk

JASPER, Ala. — Kevin Hawk packed his worldly possessions and made a hasty move from southern California to Atlanta. That happened three years ago when he was 30 years old.

He didn’t leave home to ease the heartache of a long distance romance. Nor did he relocate across the country to climb the corporate ladder for a hot job.

No job. No girlfriend. At 30, what else matters?

The answer is bass fishing.

Hawk had just earned a coveted trip to the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup. He did it after working up ranks of the FLW Outdoors league on the West Coast. The event in suburban Atlanta on Lake Lanier was 10 months away. He wasted no time in moving to be closer to the championship fishery.

“I’m a strong-willed person and when I decide to go after something I give it 100 percent,” he said.

That’s a cliché at best. Strong-willed people typically make strong statements to back up their equally-as-strong personalities.

“It was an easy decision for me,” he continued. “I decided to either go for it or scale back and go back to a regular corporate job.”

Hawk went for it after finding a rental property on Craigslist near the lake. The winter, spring, and summer were spent learning the nuances of an unfamiliar lake. A lake unlike any he’d ever fished on the West Coast. Hawk eventually unlocked the code of Lanier -- its vast network of manmade brushpiles lined up perfectly with his style of West Coast finesse fishing.

August came and Kevin Hawk won the Forrest Wood Cup. The cliché turned into reality.

“I had no idea that I would win it,” he said. “It laid the groundwork for me to continue pursuing other goals.”

One of those goals is yet again poised to come to fruition. Hawk now leads the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #3 on Lewis Smith Lake.

Prior to the event, he ranked second in the Southern Open standings. The top five are invited to register for the Bassmaster Elite Series when the tournament and season conclude on Saturday. And that’s exactly what Hawk wants next.

It’s a no-brainer that his West Coast style of fishing is coming into play on Smith Lake.

“I run into opportunities where finesse fishing provides me with an advantage,” he said. “That’s what is happening here on Smith Lake, and it did so at Lanier.”

Finesse fishing still is a loosely defined style of angling on the East Coast. Out west, it’s an art and a science that continues to be refined and reinvented. Even so, Hawk recognizes the essential need to be well-rounded if he’s to compete at the Elite Series level.

“I’m weak in a lot of other areas and am always a work in progress,” he said. “But spending time out here gives me that chance to build a diverse style of fishing.”

Hawk might be of a strong-willed personality, yet he recognizes the voice of doubt when it looms in his mind.

“I try to keep a positive attitude and surround myself with 'like' people,” he said. “But I’m like anyone else. I do have doubts. Doubts about how quickly all of my successes have fallen into place.”

What might fall into place next is a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. That invitation will come on Saturday should he win the final Southern Open. The Classic is set for Grand Lake near Tulsa, Okla.

Hawk hasn’t considered moving there. Yet.