The day before Team Toyota’s Matt Arey left home in Shelby, N.C. for the relatively short drive down to Lake Hartwell, he spiked a 101-degree fever. His sweet wife Emily confesses he got the nasty virus from her and their cute young daughters. Emily was actually bedridden for two days with the same crud.
But if ever there was a cure for feeling crappy – it’s being surrounded by the love of family – and knowing you’ve got a shot to take home your first blue Bassmaster Elite Series trophy and $100,000.
“I’ve had fever, cough, and body aches, and I just feel beat down and tired. I think it’s like a mini flu,” says the 38-year-old. “But I was hoping to catch 15 pounds Thursday, and ended up with nearly 17 pounds, so that definitely helps me feel a little better.”
When interviewed at the end of practice as to what he liked best about Lake Hartwell, Arey responded, “The fact that it’s so close to home, and all my family can be here to share this tournament with me.” Arey certainly has plenty of family here, including his parents, his wife Emily, daughters Reese and Wren, as well as Emily’s parents.
“Friday’s rain will be a challenge to me. It’s not conducive to the way I’m wanting to catch ‘em here,” warns Arey. “But throughout my career, I’ve always felt comfortable in the pre-spawn. To be honest, I’ve probably won 70% of my career prize money in the months of March and April,” says Arey, who has won nearly $1 Million during his illustrious career.
“I’ve just always been better at staying a step ahead of the fish in the pre-spawn, rather than trying to chase them once they leave the spawning beds. And staying a step ahead of them is definitely the key to pulling a “W” in a 4-day tournament,” he concluded.
After catching nearly 17 pounds on Day 1, there’s no doubt Arey has a shot to feel a whole lot better by Sunday evening. Especially given the love of family to serve as the best medicine of all.