Opens profile: Parks chases Elite dream

Logan Parks

While growing up in Auburn, Ala., Logan Parks loved playing baseball. He longed to be on Auburn High School’s team. His dream was shattered in eighth grade when he tried out for the team and failed to earn a spot on the roster.

This disappointment proved to be a blessing. Parks rebounded from his baseball blues by pursuing his second love — bass fishing. It has paid off handsomely. Now, at age 25, Parks has qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series by finishing eighth in the 2023 Bassmaster Opens Elite Qualifier standings.

Although no one in his immediate family was a bass addict, they would occasionally go fishing for whatever would bite. One of these outings early in his life forever hooked Parks on bass fishing.

He and his grandfather Burin Bowers were fishing from a dock on his grandfather’s pond with crickets dangling beneath bobbers. Parks’ bobber suddenly started sliding across the surface. He leaned back and nearly had his Zebco rod and reel ripped from his small hands.

Etched forever in his brain is the moment the green leviathan leaped from the water with its mouth gaping and red gills flaring. With help from his grandfather, he eventually landed the 3-pound largemouth.

After that experience, he and his two best friends in second grade fished for pond bass every day after school. One friend had a pond at his house. They also snuck in and fished ponds on a golf course near Parks’ house.

“We studied maps to find ponds we could fish without getting into trouble,” Parks said. “We’d ride bikes to them wearing backpacks and carrying our rods. We did that until we were old enough to drive.”

Parks learned about high school fishing teams the same year he failed to make the baseball squad. He and his fishing buddy Lucas Lindsay met with the school’s principal to see if they could start a bass team. She agreed, but only if they could convince one of the teachers to be the coach.

“That wasn’t easy,” Parks said. “We got a lot of rejections. World History teacher Drew Morgan finally volunteered to be our coach. Lucas and I fished on that team all through high school.”

Their parents split the cost of the old Nitro bass boat the youngsters used for tournaments. Their pond-fishing experiences did little to help them find and catch fish on large reservoirs against seasoned, young bass tournament anglers.

“What really accelerated our learning curve were friends of our parents who had fished tournaments for years,” Parks said. “Jeffrey Dennis, Neil Schaffner, Darrel High, Scott Russell, Jim Penny, Mitchell Jennings, Bennett Brantley, Tim Ward and JW Danze would take us out on weekends and help us develop our craft. They were also really awesome boat captains during tournaments.”

A highlight of Parks’ high school competition was finishing third with Lindsay at the Bassmaster High School Championship on Kentucky Lake in 2015. This encouraged him to pursue competitive fishing on the collegiate level. The success that Matt and Jordan Lee were having on Auburn University’s bass team convinced him and Lindsay to follow in their footsteps.

After graduating from high school, they both matriculated to Auburn and fished on the university’s bass team for the next five years. Parks studied supply chain management and information systems.

He teamed up with Lindsay for the first few years and then became tournament partners with Cody Griffith, and finally, Tucker Smith. Parks qualified for the Bassmaster College National Championship every year. He and Smith won the Bassmaster College Team of the Year in 2021.

Their biggest accomplishment was winning the Bass Pro Shops Amateur Team Championship in 2021, the year Parks graduated from Auburn. They were each awarded fully rigged Nitro boats, Toyota Tundra trucks and $500,000.

“That gave me the financial stability I needed to go and fish the Bassmaster Elite Qualifiers,” Parks said.

In his first Opens campaign in 2022 Parks fell once place short in the final standings to qualify for the Elite series. He used that disappointment to fuel his success this year.

“Being an Elite Series pro was a dream of mine even before I started fishing tournaments,” Parks said. “I’ve woken up a few times in the middle of the night since the final Open on the Harris Chain. I had to look at the trophy to be sure I really did it.”

To empower high school and college anglers to nurture their talents, Parks initiated The Logan Parks Fishing Foundation. The foundation’s inaugural High School/College Tournament will take place Nov. 8-12, 2023, on Alabama’s Lake Martin. Presented by Abu Garcia, the event gives student anglers an opportunity to compete for over $100,000 in cash, scholarships and prizes.

Parks sponsors include Fishing Chaos, Bass Pro Shops, Nitro Boats, Southeastern Pond Management, Lynch Toyota of Auburn, Native Watercraft, Realtree Fishing, Dakota Lithium, University Tire & Auto, Morris-Shea Bridge Co., GCI Outdoor, Orca Coolers, BuckN’Bass, Hurt Seed Co., Streamline Development Partners, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Power-Pole, Spearpoint Hooks, Care A Lot Pet Supply, Impulse Marine Jackplates, Sylacauga Marine, Echo Bait Company, SonarPros, Boatlogix and America’s First Federal Credit Union.