New Elite: Hawk's bass blitz

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James Overstreet

After winning the 2017 Bassmaster Central Open Angler of the Year title, Roy Hawk of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., was fairly certain he would be fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2018. For many Elite rookies, fishing the series’ 11 events across the country would require more time away from home than they’re accustomed to. The opposite will be true for Hawk, provided he limits his tournament involvement to the Elite Series.

Hawk has won nearly a half million dollars fishing FLW and Bassmaster tournaments, with the bulk of that money coming from FLW. However, he claims to have won more than that competing in tournaments outside these organizations in Arizona and California.

“I fish 40-plus tournaments a year,” Hawk said. “I fish team tournaments, pro/ams, anything I can make a buck in.”

The 47-year-old angler claims he has made a good living with rod and reel since beginning his full-time bass blitz in August of 2007.

Hawk’s first fishing experience happened at age 5 when he was visiting his father, Roy Hawk Sr., in southern Illinois during a summer vacation. Hawk grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his mother, Bonnie Dunn.

For Hawk, fishing was love at first bite. Whether he was in Utah or visiting his father in Illinois, he was on the water at every opportunity. Initially, he was after anything he could catch.

“I actually fished my first tournament when I was 11,” Hawk said. “It was put on by a Moose Lodge in southern Illinois. They wanted the fish for a fish fry and all species counted.”

Hawk set forth on Cedar Creek Lake in a canoe and returned to the weigh-in with a bucket full of bluegill and catfish heavy enough to win the tournament. Some of the other anglers fished the event from bass boats, which had an impact on Hawk.

“I did quite a bit of fishing for bass, trout, everything really,” Hawk said. “I fished in Illinois and Utah with mom, dad, uncles, grandparents, anybody that would take me. I just loved to fish.”

When Hawk was 16 his father heard about a team bass tournament on Crab Orchard Lake in southern Illinois. Hawk and his father intended to fish the tournament from their canoe. When they arrived at the ramp on the morning of the event, they were greeted with rain and a stiff wind. Hawk’s father didn’t wish to tackle the rough water in a canoe.

“My dad found a guy who was fishing by himself and asked if I could fish with him in his bass boat,” Hawk said.

The angler agreed and they finished in third place, which earned them a few hundred dollars in winnings. Their bag included the second biggest bass of the tournament, a 4-pounder.

“It was the money that got me charged up about turnin’ bass into gold,” Hawk said.

From that point Hawk focused on bass fishing and “training” to fish bass tournaments. Although he didn’t have a boat, Hawk would go to local ponds at every opportunity to improve his casting accuracy and to test different lures. When he fished rivers for trout in Utah, he would cast bass lures, typically jerkbaits, crankbaits and tube jigs.

When Hawk joined the Northern Utah Bass Anglers at age 18 he had the opportunity to compete in tournaments on a regular basis and to learn from the club’s members. He qualified to compete in a B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional tournament as part of Utah’s State Team in 1997, finishing in second place for his state.

Hawk’s success in the club prompted his uncle, Steve Logue, to pay his entries for the 1997 Bassmaster Western Invitationals.

“Uncle Steve gave me my introduction to pro level fishing,” Hawk said.

Since then Hawk has competed in 25 Bassmaster tournaments, including the Western Opens from 2001 to 2005 the Northern Opens in 2013 and the Central Opens in 2017. He also fished 89 FLW events during this time.

In 2002 Hawk won a boat at the U.S. Open by catching the 5.52-pound Big Bass of the event. It was the first bass boat he ever owned. Prior to this Hawk fished tournaments from borrowed boats, which is what he did at the U.S. Open.

“I sold that boat and bought a bigger one, a Ranger 521 powered by an Evinrude 225 HO,” Hawk said. “That fall I won another boat. It helped me pay for the Ranger.”

Crankbaits are big hitters for Hawk. He claims they carried him to top 12 finishes at Grand Lake and Table Rock during the 2017 Bassmaster Central Opens.

“I’m strongest at pattern fishing with moving baits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and topwater,” Hawk said. “But I’ve won hundreds of thousands of dollars on a drop shot, too.”

During Hawk’s bass-blitz years he somehow squeezed in time to meet Kristine McLaughlin. They married in 2012. Between them they have four children, Skyler, 28, Sunny, 26, Austin, 21, and Kaitlyn, 12.

“If I commit to fishing only the Elite Series, I’ll be going from 40 tournaments to 11,” Hawk said. “I’ll get to spend a lot more time at home. I’m looking forward to that.”

Hawk’s sponsors include Anderson Toyota in Lake Havasu, Ariz., Taipan Rods (made in U.S.A.), Yamamoto Custom Baits, Duo Realis, Costa Sunglasses, A&M Graphics, Ranger Boats, Evinrude and Pepper Custom Baits.