In July of 2016 Sam George of Athens, Ala., turns the ripe old age of 21. By that time he will have competed in 25 Bassmaster Open tournaments. George was only 17 years old in 2013 when he fished his first two Bassmaster Opens, one at Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga and the other at Tennessee’s Douglas Lake. His best finish of the two was 88th place.
Since that less than auspicious beginning, George has competed in all three Bassmaster Open divisions. His long-term goal is to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series and make his living as a professional bass angler.
Were it not for a 129th place calamity at the Bassmaster Southern Open on Smith Lake in 2016 George might already have his ticket punched for the Elites. He finished the 2016 Southern Open series 30th in the AOY standings by nabbing fourth at Douglas Lake and 26th at the Kissimmee Chain.
Not one to be discouraged, George thinks of himself as a work in progress.
“Every year [fishing the Opens] has gotten a little better,” George says. “I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned.”
George’s bass fishing education began long before he signed on to fish the Bassmaster Opens. His parents, Kip and JoAnne, took George bass fishing with them soon after he was born.
“They have a picture of me in an aluminum boat with them when I was four or five weeks old,” George says. “I still have old Snoopy rods in my closet at home.”
Kip George is currently an ER doctor. Prior to that he had a private practice. One of his patients was Greg Buie, the national sales manager for TH Marine. The doctor/patient relationship became a friendship and Buie, an avid tournament angler, became George’s bass fishing mentor.
“I’ve been fishing with Greg since I was 5 or 6 years old,” George says.
When George was in his early teens, he and Buie competed in several team tournaments together. The bass fishing lessons George received from Buie were invaluable. Because TH Marine products cater to the bass tournament industry, George also learned a great deal about the business side of being a bass pro.