Shane LeHew belongs to the new generation of Bassmaster Elite Series anglers who polished their skills in college bass fishing tournaments before rising to the pro ranks.
The 30-year-old LeHew’s memory of his earliest days of fishing is a bit murky. “I’m pretty sure my dad just took me bass fishing when I was young,” LeHew said. “He probably took me fishing before I could even cast.”
LeHew does recall fishing his first bass tournament with his dad, Troy LeHew, on the Mississippi River at about the age of 10 when his family lived in Davenport, Iowa. However, LeHew is unable to remember how they finished in the tournament.
LeHew’s family moved to Kansas City, Mo., where he fished ponds and competed in bass tournaments with his dad at Truman Lake throughout his teen years. “We used to fish Truman a lot,” LeHew said. He credited his dad and his grandpa, Larry LeHew, as the two mentors who taught him the most about bass fishing and fueled his passion for the sport.
After his family moved to North Carolina, LeHew joined The Bass Federation (TBF) junior program and won the 2007 TBF Junior National Championship on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas. LeHew’s next major victory was on his home waters of Lake Norman where he won a Bass Fishing League (BFL) event in 2009. During 2008 and 2009, LeHew also fished on the co-angler side of the FLW Tour and recorded a sixth-place finish and finished three times in eighth place.
His tournament success continued in the FLW College Fishing program when he joined the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNCC) bass team. LeHew and his partner, Eric Self, won two Yeti College Fishing tournaments in 2013 at Wheeler and Guntersville lakes. During his college days, LeHew also fished with Adam Waters, and the UNCC duo finished third in a 2012 Southeastern Conference Championship and second in the 2013 YETI College National Championship.
The Catawba, N.C., angler was part of a family milestone in 2014 when he finished second in a BFL tournament won by his grandpa Larry LeHew at Lake Norman. A sponsorship opportunity came along for LeHew the same year that prompted him to enter FLW Tour events on the pro side.
LeHew also felt he had done well enough as a co-angler in FLW Tour events to turn pro. “I didn’t want to wait until I was 40 to do it or get a job and be tied down with that,” he said.
In the next four years, LeHew qualified four times for the FLW Cup and recorded a fourth-place finish in the 2017 FLW Tour event on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida. He has collected $328,348 in career earnings in FLW events.
Although he has spent most of his career competing in FLW events, LeHew finished fourth on the pro side of the 2014 Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Norman — his one and only B.A.S.S. event.
When a Bassmaster Elite Series invitation was extended to him, LeHew decided to make the switch to B.A.S.S. “I got to fish the (FLW) Tour for five years and that was awesome,” LeHew said. “That is a great organization and obviously B.A.S.S. has been around forever. I grew up watching the Bassmaster Classic and I have really wanted to fish a Classic. That was my deciding factor on making the jump.”
Throughout his pro career, LeHew has experienced lows that have raised some doubts and highs that have bolstered his confidence. “Obviously, there has been some times where I have debated as to whether this is the right thing that I need to be doing for a career,” he said. “It is stressful travelling and being away from home all the time.”
LeHew feels being a bachelor without any family ties has helped him cope with the extended periods away from home. When he is home from the tournament trail, LeHew works at Denver Tackle Company, an outdoors and sporting goods store owned by his dad.
Qualifying for four FLW Cup championships are the high points in his career that have boosted his confidence. “That kept me coming back,” LeHew said. “At least I feel like I am not losing money necessarily. I have never won a major event, and that is one thing I really want to do eventually. I feel like I am consistent, but I just have not had a breakthrough with a major victory.”
LeHew considers shallow-water power fishing to be his strength. The North Carolina pro knows to succeed in the Elite Series he will have to improve on deep-water tactics.
“I am not the greatest offshore fisherman,” he said.
After a successful stint in the FLW circuit, LeHew hopes to accomplish more with B.A.S.S. His new career goals include qualifying for a Bassmaster Classic and winning either a Classic or any Elite Series event.