LA CROSSE, Wis. — Brent Chapman has a stellar pro resume with a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, 13 appearances in the Bassmaster Classic, and $1.8 million in B.A.S.S. earnings.
To Chapman something is missing. What could that possibly be?
The answer is closing a void that opened in 2014, the last time he fished a Classic. Four years is a long time to miss the annual goal of every Bassmaster Elite Series pro, especially when you have nearly a quarter century on the tour.
Chapman, who along with wife Bobbi and their children, are among the most likeable traveling families on the tour. The Kansas pro is respected for his high standards of sportsmanship. Sponsors seek Chapman for his marketing savvy and connectivity with the average angler.
Chapman is one of the good guys, going through a bad luck streak. That streak has practically come to an end. Welcome to the reboot of Brent Chapman.
No matter the occupation, careers cycle through highs and lows over time. Normally it takes a slow climb back to the top. Achieving overnight success is rare. An exception is Chapman, who after five events leads the 2018 AOY race with 550 points. Aaron Martens is second with 498 and Bradley Roy is fourth with 494 points (unofficially, during Day 2 of the tournament).
On the schedule are four more events with each evolving on a different type of challenging fishery. Martens is fishing hot this year and the veteran has one thing on his mind. That is winning a fourth AOY title. The season is long from over. Even so, Chapman is on the rebound and the future looks bright.
Last year the turnaround began during it’s lowest point and the help came from Gerald Swindle, whose PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) seminars are a hit all over the country. The G Man referred his friend to performance consultant whose specialty is coaching athletes on the mental side of their games.
Chapman made the phone call. Things began to gel.
“It’s interesting that in other professional sports are entire teams of physicians, doctors, sports psychologists, but nothing to compare to it in bass fishing,” he said. “We can get in a similar mental funk as a PGA golf pro or any other athlete.”
The consultant went fishing with Chapman, analyzed what went great in 2012 during his run at the AOY championship. The sessions segued into what went wrong during the dry run.
Early results showed no flaws in Chapman’s mechanical skills. Room for improvement was discovered on the mental side of his game.
“I knew I was fishing good but not making the best decisions when it came down to strategy,” he explained. “I was trying to do too much, make too much work at the same time.”
Simply stated, Chapman was spinning out in his mind, a sign of a veteran athlete whose mental game needs a reboot. That occurred at the first event of the season, in February on Lake Martin in Alabama.
“Lake Martin is notorious for producing big catches in deep water for spotted bass and even largemouth,” he said. “I prefer fishing shallow and it’s what I’m best at.”
And with that, Chapman detoured from the prevailing pattern and did things his way. It worked. He finished 19th and left Alabama satisfied and made the plan a go for the entire season.
“We decided to simplify things, narrow it down, make a plan and stick to it,” he said. “Before this year, at Lake Martin I would’ve tried to fish deep and shallow.”
Since then, Chapman has fished twice on Championship Sunday, scoring a fifth place finish on Lake Travis and finishing ninth at Kentucky Lake. He’s made the top 50 cut in every event thus far.
“I’m doing more what I like to do and it’s working really well,” he said.
Chapman also knows that unlike other sports, his opponent is unknown until it bites his bait. It’s his job to make that happen and in fishing there still is a luck factor.
“At least now I feel have the peace of mind knowing that if the plan didn’t work that it wasn’t due to poor decision making,” he said.
That attitude is almost like removing the letter “g” from the word fishing to simplify what it truly is all about.
“It all starts with just going fishin,” he said.
Making the sport less complicated and more down to earth is a good idea that is working well for Chapman.