NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Albert Collins loves competitive bass fishing, but he loves his family even more. He left the sport for them.
Collins quit fishing, not only competitively, but altogether after he gained custody of his two young daughters. Raising them was bigger to him than any personal goal, even his hope to qualify for a Classic.
“I figured one day I would be fishing the Bassmaster Classic, once I got to the point in my life where I could concentrate on it,” Collins said a few years back. “It’s always been my dream. I’ve never been to a Classic. I told myself that I would never go to one unless I was fishing it.”
Collins has made up for lost time. This year he won the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship to qualify for the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. In 2013, he fished his first Classic after winning the 2012 Bassmaster Weekend Series championship.
It’s anybody guess what heights he might have attained if he hadn’t taken a nine-year hiatus from fishing, but he doesn’t want such speculation. He’s adamant his girls never think they caused him to miss out on anything, because they didn’t. He said he served a much higher purpose with them than anything he could have done fishing.
“I did want to fish, but I just couldn’t do it with the kids,” he said. “And I’d do that again in the heartbeat.”
He felt the need to be there to get his girls off to school, when they came home, to make their dinner, discuss their days, help with homework, etc. Fishing was out, even on weekends. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition for Collins.
“My buddies were like, ‘Come, go fishing with me one time,’” he said, adding he had to refuse. “’Why not? It ain’t going to hurt going one time.’ I said it’s like telling a crackhead to do it one time and quit. Fishing’s addictive. It’s like a drug to me. When I start fishing, I fish. I go. I go all out.”
Fishing was ingrained in Collins early as he grew up on the shores of Sam Rayburn. He started going down to the lake at 3 or 4 and fished all on his own.
“When I was 5, I had a little rubber, two-man boat, and I would take it down to the lake and I would paddle around that boat around the bushes and catch fish,” he said.
He graduated to an aluminum boat at 9 or 10, then guided in high school before being sidetracked momentarily by girls. Before stopping at age 33, Collins became known as quite a stick in the southeast Texas tournament scene, where he says good anglers can make a living on Rayburn and Toledo Bend. Elite Series angler Todd Faircloth, who lives on the other side of Rayburn from Collins, said he’s lost his fair share of entry fees to him.
“I just love the competition,” Collins said. “Moreso than anything, you’re trying to compete against the fish, but you’ve got these other guys doing the same – you’re just trying to do better. To me, that’s what drives me so much. I’m competitive.”