LA CROSSE, Wis. — When Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Frank Talley was five years old he was already slinging a spinnerbait with pinpoint accuracy, just like his father for whom he is named. Now, there is another Talley, also named Frank, who is taking after his father and grandfather.
Meet Frank Talley IV, who this week at age 15 is competing as a co-angler in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the upper Mississippi River. There’s a family connection there, too. Just last year, the elder Talley qualified for the Elite Series through the Opens.
In another twist of coincidental irony, the youngest Talley’s grandfather was a well-known West Coast tournament angler.
“He is a mini-me and it’s really gratifying to get to live my early days through him again,” said Talley of his son. “He has taken after me and dad, carrying on our family tradition.”
The feeling is mutual and the competitive vein obviously runs through the family blood.
“Our whole family is competitive and he’s coached me in everything I have ever done, baseball, football, fishing and hunting since I was knee-high to a grasshopper,” said Talley Jr. “Now, with him in the Elite Series, I get to follow everything he does, be that on TV, being at the weigh-ins or on Facetime.”
From his Opens season through now, the son and father have nightly Facetime sessions about his daily strategy on the tour. Never missing a night, the father shares what worked and did not, and how his son can apply the lessons learned.
It has been that way since Talley Sr. put his son in the boat as a toddler. By the age of 5, he was fishing team tournaments with him. He continued with high school tournaments, becoming eligible to compete in seventh grade with his older cousin. The first year, the team caught a 5-bass limit weighing 24.67 pounds, breaking a high school record at the time.
He needed more than bass fishing and youth baseball became the fix. Now a high school junior he plays on the varsity team at Academy High School, located in a suburb of Temple, Texas, where the family calls home.
This summer Talley Jr. is working a full-time job for a construction company, installing septic tanks and house pads. Weekends are reserved for fishing, leaving little time for high school tournaments. Even so, he finds a way to compete.
“I fun fish with dad but it always turns into a competition,” he admitted, with a laugh. “Even at home when it comes time to leave, we compete to find out who first comes off the sofa.”
He aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps while knowing other priorities come first. From high school, he plans to enroll in college and not surprisingly, bass fishing is in the plans.
“In Texas, there is no shortage of colleges with bass fishing teams, and I want to study to become a Texas game warden,” he said.
He continued, “Right now, I fish about 150 days a year and would like to extend that into about 200 days, eventually fish the Opens, and who knows after that, maybe the Elite Series.”
That pleases Talley Sr., and his wife Christy. They chose to put his aspirations of going pro on hold when Frank Jr. and his sister Destiny were born as twins.
“I wanted to be there for them, coaching them in football, baseball, softball, and generally being a dad,” he said.
At about the same time, the Talley children entered their teenage years a new family business was launched, and it became successful enough for the quest to resume. Talley took the leap of faith and fished the Opens, and along with it came the invitation into the Elite Series. The family's decision on what to do next was unanimous.
“We all wanted him to pursue the dream that he put on hold for us,” said Talley Jr.
The dream has come full circle once again, with a third-generation Talley entering the competitive fray of tournament fishing. If the future follows the past, the outlook looks promising for the tradition to continue.