Opens profile: No quit in Bird

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Andy Crawford

Cody Bird has competed in 62 B.A.S.S. events since the year 2000 and has been close to victory a number of times. At age 58, he finally sealed the deal by winning the 2020 Bassmaster Central Open at Neely Henry Lake.

“I used to say I didn’t want to be an older guy fishing tournaments,” Bird said. “Now I am an older guy and the last thing on my mind is quitting.”

Since Bird will be fishing all four Central Opens in 2020, his Neely Henry win is set to earn him a berth to the 2021 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Ray Roberts, Texas.

“My ultimate dream is to win the Classic,” Bird said.

While growing up in Granbury, Texas, bull riding was a major factor in Bird’s life. His father, Donald, had been a bull rider.

“Dad quit riding before I was old enough to know what was going on,” Bird said. “He had buckles and pictures, and I’d study the pictures.”

Bird’s parents didn’t want him to ride bulls, but his father’s photos and the Granbury rodeo arena just across the road lured him into the hazardous sport. He started riding steers as a Jr. bull rider at age 7 and won several events.

“I would sign the release forms myself and catch rides to the rodeos with friends and their dads,” Bird said. “My dad knew about it, but my mom didn’t.”

Bird competed as a professional bull rider from ages 19 through 23. He stopped when he married Kathy, his wife of 35 years. They settled in Granbury and have raised three children, Breann, Shari and Colton.

“When I got married I had to quit bull riding and partying and get a steady job,” Bird said.

He started his own construction company, Bird Concrete, which he runs to this day. His employees capably take care of the business when he leaves home to fish a tournament.

The other foundational element in Bird’s youth was fishing. As a tad, grandma Juanita would take him fishing for crappie and whatever else would bite. They often fished from the bank under a bridge that spanned Lake Granbury. His mother, Frances, also took him bank fishing for catfish.

He would camp out with his uncles and run trotlines for catfish on the Brazos River. And his father often took him saltwater fishing with the family’s 27-foot boat in the Gulf of Mexico.

“He fished for everything,” Bird said of his father. “He had a winch on the back of the boat for big sharks. This was about the time the movie Jaws came out. I was scared to death many times.”

Bird jokingly claims that Bassmaster Magazine “ruined me.” The articles had him dreaming about catching bass. He would ride his bike a quarter-mile with a tacklebox on the handlebars to a creek where he terrorized bass with spinnerbaits and Texas-rigged worms.

“My dad knew I was so eaten up with bass fishing that he bought me a 17-foot bass boat after I graduated from high school,” Bird said. “That’s when I really went nuts fishing local team tournaments.”

Bird found success competing locally and fished his first professional tournament at age 35. He has won more than $700,000 fishing FLW tournaments and has qualified for five FLW Cup championships. Plus, he's earned more than $200,000 fishing B.A.S.S. events.

“I just love everything about fishing tournaments,” Bird said. “I love the competition. I fished the B.A.S.S Tour about 15 years ago, and I would like to fish the Elites. It’s one of the best deals out there.”

Bird’s sponsors include Fun and Sun Boat and Tackle, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine and Power-Pole.