When Tyler Rivet muscled the blue trophy above his head after claiming his first Bassmaster Elite Series victory at Lake Okeechobee in February, I couldn’t help but think back to the first time I ever truly noticed him.
It was June 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas, and Hank Cherry had just put the finishing touches on his second victory in the Bassmaster Classic. Cherry and his family had been led to the “decompression room” — a small space adjacent to the main arena reserved for the champion and the handful of people he invites.
Behind Cherry’s family, there was this buff kid who was actually stopped by security for a moment before Cherry motioned that it was OK for him to come in. It was Rivet, then a third-year Elite who Cherry had taken under his wing.
Since that day, I’ve mentioned Cherry and Rivet in the same story many times, always referring to the veteran Cherry as Rivet’s mentor. But now, thanks to a combination of hard work, natural ability and the good sense to listen to people who’ve already been where he wants to go, Rivet is his own man.
“I’m honored and lucky to have Hank as a friend,” Rivet said. “Him and Brock Mosley, too. Our little group is just awesome. Sometimes maybe I’m not on ’em and they’re on ’em. And that little bit will just help me so that I’m not gonna skunk a tournament. There are times when it happens the other way and maybe I’ve got something figured out that they don’t.
“You need people like that because nobody does it alone.”
During the past two seasons, Rivet has come into his own as a pro. He earned his first Classic berth during the 2021 season and then earned a return trip by finishing 25th in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings in 2022.
Now a fifth-year Elite, Rivet has 15 Top 20 finishes in his first 57 B.A.S.S. events. Finishing first at Okeechobee and third at Seminole has marked by far the best start of his career.
Cherry has been eating it up.
“I got the same chills watching Tyler raise that blue trophy at Okeechobee that I got watching my son hit his first home run,” Cherry said. “He’s worked hard and gone through a lot. It makes me feel good to see good things happen to him.”
Conscious of the support he’s received from anglers like Cherry, Rivet is doing his best to give back to other up-and-comers. He routinely helps out with the Lafourche Bassmasters high school fishing team in his hometown of Raceland, La., whether it’s answering their questions on Instagram, donating tackle or attending their monthly meetings when he’s in town.
“They are freaking hammers,” Rivet said of the 40 to 50 children who fish with Lafourche. “I tell them all the time they are way better than I was when I was that age. Just helping out, encouraging the younger generation, is something we should all do.”
Rivet says something else we should all do is remember that fishing is supposed to be fun. If he hadn’t followed that rule, he might still be searching for his first win.
“At Okeechobee [during practice], I just decided to catch a few sac-a-lait for us to eat because it relaxes me,” he said. “I was just having fun catching them when I saw a bass on my electronics that keyed me in to the winning pattern. That’s a good lesson I’ve learned — just have fun with it and good things will happen.”