Tristan McCormick, the 2021 Bassmaster College Series Bracket Champion, will be the first to tell you he wasn’t overly happy with his performances in the first few Bassmaster Opens he competed in this year after being college fishing’s representative in the 2022 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell.
The Bethel University standout struggled to get in a groove during the first part of 2022, but fortunately McCormick is feeling the good mojo of momentum after posting back-to-back strong finishes in his last two tournaments; a Toyota Series event on the Potomac River where he finished fifth, and a 13th-place finish in the Northern Bassmaster Open on Lake Oneida, missing the Top 10 cut by mere ounces.
When questioned why a 23-year-old from central Tennessee was proving to be a force to be reckoned with on northern fisheries, McCormick offered two thoughts.
“I’ve kind of shot myself in the foot points wise with the (Bassmaster) Opens so I practiced for Oneida completely different,” McCormick admitted. “I practiced to win. I didn’t even think about points during practice on Oneida, and that’s going to be my goal in every remaining Open on the schedule.
“On top of that, both fisheries are places where I was comfortable, even though they are a full day’s drive away from my doorstep. Using my electronics and fishing grass is my favorite thing to do. Last summer I spent over two months in New York and the Northeast trying to learn these northern fisheries and get better at catching smallmouth. Hopefully that decision continues to pay off.”
While I have no doubt McCormick is on point with his assessment of these recent finishes, I have another hypothesis to add to the conversation. It seems McCormick’s luck has changed since he landed the best catch of his life.
On June 18, 2022, in front of their family and closest friends, McCormick dropped to one knee on the front deck of his Bethel University wrapped Nitro and asked his longtime girlfriend, Elle, to marry him. The two have been dating for six years, and McCormick has dreamed of popping the question on the Cumberland River in front of Elle’s uncle’s house since laying eyes on the magical spot over two years ago.
“I’ve known Elle was the one I wanted to marry since we started dating, but the last couple years have just further cemented it,” McCormick said with a smile. “It takes a special person to deal with the hectic travel and lifestyle of an aspiring professional bass fisherman. Elle loves to fish, loves the outdoors and takes my schedule in stride. I really don’t know what I would do without her support. June 18 was the best day of my life.”
Talk about a lasting memory and making the most out of his year as the reigning college fishing champ. Even if McCormick failed to catch a bass the rest of his 2022 season, there are plenty of reasons to chalk this year up as a massive success.
But McCormick has no intention of letting off the gas now. With nearly half of the Bassmaster Opens schedule left, he’s going to add to the 23,000 miles he’s already put on the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra he’s driving for the year as he keeps the pedal mashed in pursuit of his dreams.