Wong's wild start to bass fishing

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Brenden Kanies

Matty Wong of California recently qualified for the 2021 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

Matty Wong is a 32-year-old angler fishing from a 31-year-old bass boat.

Unconventional, perhaps, but little about Wong, starting with his home state of Hawaii, says “standard issue competitive bass angler.”

Wong impressed friends and family with the angling skills he learned growing up on the island of Oahu, but he was equally adept at spear fishing and surfing. The latter two pursuits might seem like exotic pastimes to some, but they’re tame compared to freediving — literally a breathtaking challenge that involves plunging dozens of yards underwater and remaining there for minutes at a time without the aid of scuba gear.

Someone who enjoys that kind of thrill might seem better suited for a newer, faster bass boat, but there’s a story behind the old Ranger 365V Comanche that binds Wong to his formative years. He hears echoes of the past when he starts the 150 horsepower, 2-stroke Yamaha outboard, and he sees it in the relatively primitive blips of his 15-year-old Lowrance.

Wong almost won the TNT Fireworks 2021 B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional from the bow of his Ranger early in February on Lake Havasu. After leading Day 1 of the tournament, he slipped to third overall, but still qualified for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship which will be held later this year on a fishery yet to be disclosed.

For Wong, that showing was confirmation he belongs. His journey has been about geography in a sense, since he relocated from Oahu to the Los Angeles area in 2013 to pursue work as an actor and musician. But it’s been an emotional and spiritual trip, as well, as he finally taps into the promise he first showed as a young angler two and a half decades ago, and two and a half thousand miles away.