Opens profile: ‘Old man’ Adams excels

Matt Adams

As a 40-year-old rookie on the Tackle Warehouse Bassmaster Elite Qualifier trail, Alabama’s Matt Adams refers to himself as the “old man.” After the first five EQ events of 2024 the old man is more than holding his own. He currently sits in fifth place in the overall points standings.

“Time waits on no one,” Adams said. “I decided if I was ever going to do this, the time was now. I mainly wanted to see where I stood as a bass angler.

“I’m not one of the younger guys whose lifelong dream is to be an Elite pro. I have everything I need in life. God has blessed me with more than I deserve.”

While growing up in Illinois, Adams’ father Mike and grandfather Carl had him in a fishing boat as soon as he could walk. The early outings were mainly to Illinois’ Rend Lake where they would cast for white bass and hybrids. He would practice with a push-button spincast outfit and a casting plug from his grandfather’s back deck before he could see over the railing.

“I would cast for hours,” he said. “They would have to cut me off and make me get something to eat. I couldn’t sleep the night before we went fishing. It was worse than Christmas waiting for sunrise to come.”

Watching bass fishing legends like Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston and Roland Martin on TV kindled his bass fishing interest.

Because Adams loved playing baseball as much as fishing, he didn’t get seriously into bass tournaments until after he graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2008. He played second base in high school, college and professionally in the Frontier League.

“Baseball is where my competitive nature comes from,” Adams said. “Dad instilled in me that if I’m not constantly working to get better, somebody else is working harder to get better than me.”

He stopped playing professionally in 2006. This is when he focused his competitive spirit on bass tournament fishing. He had already begun dabbling in bass tournaments while in college.

He purchased his first boat in 2004, a blue Bass Tracker powered by a 60 hp Mercury outboard. Three years later he traded it in on his first “go fast” boat, a 201 Stratos sporting a 225 hp outboard.

For the next several years, he competed regularly in weekend derbies and “somewhat major stuff” including the BFLs.

In 2011 he moved to Guntersville, Ala., and established his own company MJ Events. It focuses on coaching, sports training and organizing youth baseball and softball tournaments.

“In 2012 I sold my boat and all my fishing equipment,” Adams said. “I needed to spend the majority of my time building my business.”

Although Adams still loved bass fishing, he put it on the back burner for six years. He yearned to fish Lake Guntersville whenever he drove over the causeway that crossed Brown’s Creek, which he did nearly every day.

In 2018 he was more than ready to get back into bass fishing. A good friend, Richard Payne, let Adams borrow his Phoenix bass boat to reintroduce himself to bass fishing.

“Richard being willing to do that for me is something I will never forget,” Adams said. “I didn’t realize how much I missed bass fishing and how much it had changed. Down imaging, side imaging and forward-facing sonar were all new to me.”

With his passion for bass fishing renewed, Adams began fishing several tournament circuits, including The Alabama Bass Trail. He took his lumps but qualified for their championship ever year he fished it.

“Competitive fishing in Illinois and Alabama are not the same world,” Adams said. “Guys down here that you never heard of are as good as anybody out there.”

In 2022 he began guiding for bass and crappie on Lake Guntersville and also founded his own American-made fishing rod business MMA Fishing.

Adams’ success fishing tournaments in Alabama gave him the confidence that he had what it takes to do well in the EQs.

“When I signed up for the Elite Qualifiers, I mainly wanted to see how good I was against such a strong field of bass anglers,” Adams said. “Now that I have a shot at qualifying for the Elite Series, I would embrace the opportunity if I have the chance.”

Adams credits two people for supporting him with his tournament fishing and for providing invaluable advice regarding his fishing rod business. One is Will Fowler, head of Frog Toggs. The other is William Davis of the Davis Bait Company. He also receives product support from Waterland Sunglasses, 6th Sense Fishing, Spearpoint Performance Hooks and PTG Outdoors.