Veteran Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., is now in his third decade of fishing professional events, and his resume now records more than 140 total B.A.S.S. events alone.
Like his peers, his love of bass fishing started at a young age. "My buddies and I would always get into local tournaments around Lake Wylie, and it was a real good fishery back then, so it seemed like everyone was fishing," Auten says. "I started with little tournaments, but then I got into the Southern Bassmasters club, and I fished with that club for many years."
Auten watched friend Chris Baumgardner begin to fish Bassmaster Invitationals and then eventually the Bassmaster Top 150s, and the two would talk frequently. Baumgardner continuously poked Auten to "jump over and get in with the big boys," and Auten finally decided to take the leap with an entry into the 1996 Georgia Eastern Invitational at Lake Hartwell.
"I still had a job, but after several years, I ended up making the 1999 Bassmaster Classic through the Invitationals," Auten remembers. "From there, I qualified for the Bassmaster Top 150s." He fished several years of Top 150s while also working as an automotive technician for GM. He'd worked the auto technician job for 18 years, and his seniority and experience allowed him the time off to fish several years of the Top 150s. But things changed as the new millennium dawned.
"My boss was always pretty good about letting me go fish, but one day my boss changed and they gave me an ultimatum. I had to make the decision on where to stay – Bassmaster or the job – and I elected to go fish instead of working on cars.
"We were married, and my wife Susan was pregnant. We'd sold our house and were in the middle of building a new one, and we were working with a bank, but I was having problems with work trying to get time off that was previously promised. Everything just came to a head and I decided to just go fishing."
The Great Recession pinched Auten badly, and facing an 85 percent loss of sponsors, he switched the FLW Tour, where he stayed for a decade. But he continued to fish the Bassmaster Opens, waiting for the right time to rejoin the Bassmaster Elite Series. Finally, with format and payout changes from B.A.S.S., he was able to cash in his Elite Series ticket in 2019 and rejoin the tour that launched his career and that he'd fished for more than a decade.
"I'm primarily a target fishermen," Auten notes. "I like visible targets in shallow water. I do fish deep too, but having one or two 'places' isn't my deal because a lot of times, other guys find those places and you have to fish in a crowd. I'm the guy who's going to always try to find something by myself. I think that's helped me over the years. If I see two or three boats in a cove, I won't go into it, unless we're in Florida."
His primary arsenal includes spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits and jigs. There are times when specialty techniques like a dropshot or deep crankbait are needed, but even then, he'll typically revert back to shallow water in the attempt to figure out an area by himself.