DANDRIDGE, Tenn.—The Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open season concluded with the third event held on Douglas Lake, qualifying two anglers for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.
Alabama pro Gerald Swindle, winner of the season opener on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and Ohio’s Fletcher Shryock, winner at the second event held on Lake Norman, will advance to the Classic in February on the Red River. Douglas Lake winner Bobby Ferguson was denied the berth after unfulfilling the B.A.S.S. requirement to fish all three Southern Opens.
Following his win Shryock set out to conquer another goal he validated with an 11th-place finish at Douglas.
“I came here to prove to myself and everyone else that my win on Norman wasn’t a fluke,” he stated.
“I’m serious about making it in this sport as a pro,” said the 25-year-old Shryock. “I want to fish harder, learn more about bass fishing and remain competitive.”
Shryock’s teenage study habits about spending hours locked in his room reading Bassmaster Magazine and watching the TV series are well documented.
What hasn’t been detailed thus far is his intense competitive persona. Until two years ago he was a fulltime pro on the motorcross racing tour. Injuries and intrigue about fishing made him decide to switch the bike for bass.
“If it wasn’t for me racing in motocross fulltime for three years there is no way that I could mentally be where I am in fishing,” he admitted. “Being a motocross pro and now this makes me say ‘here we are again.’”
If racing fueled his competitive spirit it was clearly evident the mindset remains intact and has carried over to his new profession.
He recounted, “I was launching my boat the other morning and said to myself ‘dude, you’ve got to get down on the ground and do stretching exercises.’ I had to stop and remind myself that I’m fishing, not racing. But I do realize both sports are extreme mental games.”
“It doesn’t matter if I’m facing off against the sport’s top pro, I mentally feel like I’ve got just as much of a chance as he does,” he continued. “I felt that way with racing after I’d gotten into it. It took that to teach me to be mentally that way in this sport. “
The Classic is months away and Shryock has turned his focus on keeping his mental momentum moving forward.
I want to qualify for the Elite Series because I don’t want this fairy tale to end at the Classic,” he said. “I want it to continue.”
“Once you get the momentum going on, and I learned this in motocross racing, you want to keep it rolling,” he observed. “You don’t want it to die off because it’s so hard to pick yourself back up off the bottom and start going back up hill.”