For the first time since they started fishing together in 2016, Charles Proctor and his wife Stacey both earned a spot on the South Carolina state team, Charles on the boater side and Stacey on the co-angler side, and arrived at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Southeast Regional Championship at Lake Hartwell hoping for a chance to qualify for the Nation championship.
On Thursday afternoon, they took one step closer to that opportunity by making the Top 20 cut, with Charles sliding into the cut in 20th-place and Stacey in 10th-place in the co-angler standings, ensuring their spot to fish on Championship Friday with a chance to improve their position in the state standings.
On top of that, Charles’ brother John Proctor also made the boater cut in 10th-place, helping the South Carolina Nation team earn the overall team event.
The family atmosphere has been a blessing for the Proctors at this event. Each time Charles, Stacey or John weighed-in, their children joined them on stage and held fish up for the cameras and Bassmaster.com.
Charles, who made his first state team since getting back into tournament fishing five years ago, said having everyone there to celebrate their success has been fun.
“It is extremely exciting. My family is here, her family is here, John’s family is here. All the kids are here,” Charles said. “(Stacey) was relieved that I finally got in on it. I had been watching her do it for three years.”
Stacey’s interest in competitive bass fishing started when Charles’ brother John qualified for the 2016 Bassmaster Classic through the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in 2015. Stacey, Charles and the rest of the family traveled to Grand Lake to support John, and Stacey was captivated by what she saw.
“The Classic was very exciting obviously,” Stacey said. “We were always on the water having fun so we figured, why not do something fun while we are out there.”
After that Classic, Charles and Stacey started fishing together. While Charles had fished as a Nation member before, he hadn’t competed since the early 2000s.
“I’ve spent most of my life fishing,” Charles said. “I did the Federation stuff as a non-boater in the early 2000s. I went to school and got out of fishing for a while and didn’t really get back into it before 2016. She kind of got me back into it. The fact she did so well made it exciting.”
It didn’t take long before Stacey began to place well in tournaments on the co-angler side. In fact, she picked up the sport so quickly, she won the South Carolina Nation co-angler championship in her first year.
“There was a huge learning curve,” Stacey said. “I’m sure there was a lot of luck that went into it. I didn’t know how to tie a knot or know what the baits were. I’ve been very fortunate with my partners and I’ve learned a lot through all that and what to throw when and all that.”
In four attempts, Stacey has made the state team three times but has yet to reach the Nation Championship. Along with her Nation schedule, Stacey began fishing the Opens in 2019 and started 2021 off with a bang, finishing second at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Open at Harris Chain of Lakes with 20-2 for two days.
While they are not fishing tournaments, Charles and Stacey are out on the water fishing together and helping each other get better. For this event, they practiced together each day and tried to figure out what would be the best way to get to the final day.
“We practiced together the whole time. If he finds spots, I’ll tell him what to throw,” Stacey said with a laugh.
With Charles, Stacey and John making the Top 20 cut for Championship Friday, there is a chance two of the three Proctors could qualify for the Nation Championship at the Ouachita River in Louisiana.
“We are really hoping at least one of us gets to go to Louisiana and we would like to do it again there,” Charles said. “I don’t think any one of us cares if we win, but if we can root on each other and if someone does well, it’s fun. It has been amazing.”