“I’ve been obsessed with bass fishing for so many years I’d rather die than be without it,” said Virginia’s Kyle Patrick.
That may be just a bit of an overstatement. Patrick currently holds fifth place in the overall Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year standings. Given that he is a healthy 25 year old, he appears to be a long way from taking his final breath.
His father, James, enjoys saltwater fly fishing from a Boston Whaler and a canoe. He began taking Patrick with him as soon as the youngster was big enough to tag along. His parents have a picture of Patrick at age 2 next to an enormous striped bass.
“I’ve always fished saltwater with my dad, but I was never really that passionate about it,” Patrick said. “I found the passion for bass fishing on my own while growing up.”
Patrick’s family summered at New York’s Otsego Lake near Cooperstown, home to the Baseball Hall of Fame. At the lake he would see largemouth bass lounging in the shade under Otsego’s many boat docks. He baited them into biting with crayfish he caught by wading in the shallows. Then he would hand-line them in without a fishing rod. He was more deeply hooked than the bass he caught.
At daybreak one morning Patrick was lured outside by what sounded like swarm of buzzing hornets. He saw dozens of sleek boats streaking across the surface.
“It looked sick,” he said. “I liked going fast, and I liked boats. I had to find out what it was all about.”
He found out later that afternoon when he watched a weigh-in for the Susquehanna Bass Association. Their bass boats had been the morning’s buzzing hornets.
“Discovering the tournament aspect of bass fishing really ignited a flame in me,” Patrick said. “I’m a very competitive person. I want to beat everybody.”
Tournaments allowed him to combine his love for bass fishing with his zeal to compete. He joined the Susquehanna club when he was 13 and “became obscenely obsessed” with the sport. His obsession has never abated.
At age 14 he competed in his first club tournament, a charity event at Canadarago Lake in Upstate New York, from the canoe that his father uses for saltwater fishing. He paddled about slinging a Senko and a spinnerbait and finished fourth. His three-bass limit weighed just shy of 10 pounds.
Patrick credits the older club members for helping him learn bass fishing techniques and tournament strategies. The person who taught him the most was a 50-year-old bass addict named Jim Orian. They fished together often.
“He taught me everything from flipping a jig to how to drop shot,” Patrick said. “My parents wondered why this 50-year-old dude and their 17-year-old kid spent so much time together. I explained to them that fishing has no age. You can be friends with anyone as long as they’re passionate about bass fishing.”
On Patrick’s 16th birthday his parents helped him purchase a Tracker Pro Team 175 bass boat. The aluminum craft allowed him to gain proficiency with boat control. Before long he was holding his own in club events and winning some of them. He has since stepped up to a Phoenix 721 Pro XP powered by a 250 hp Mercury.
Through high school and college, bass tournaments and soccer provided an outlet for Patrick’s competitive drive. He received a scholarship to play soccer at Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y., where he majored in environmental science and minored in business. That Hobart College is a short cast from New York’s Seneca and Cayuga lakes was a major reason he chose to go there.
After graduating from Hobart, Patrick was hired to be a sales representative for Atila Biosystems, a company that specializes in medical supplies. The job allows him to work from home and adjust his schedule to make time for tournaments.
“I’m not living lavishly, but I can cover the cost of gas and other tournament expenses,” he said.
In 2020 he qualified to fish a team championship at Florida’s Harris Chain via New York’s B.A.S.S. Nation affiliated Empire Team Trail.
“I finished 14th against some of the best guys in the country,” Patrick said. “It was the step I needed to up my game. It was time to fish the Bassmaster Opens.”
In 2021 Patrick fished the Central Opens as a boater and the Southern and Northern Opens as a co-angler. He traveled to the Southern and Northern Opens with one of his mentors, South Carolinian Paul Pagnatto, who competed as a boater.
“Paul has been a huge help to me,” Patrick said. “He wanted me to travel with him to the Opens to learn what it takes.”
It appears that Patrick has learned well. With five of the nine Open events under his belt in 2022 he is within striking distance of the top three in the Angler of the Year standings that will qualify to fish the 2023 Elite Series. He is striving to be as consistent as possible in the Opens to become an Elite Series pro.
“I want to win one of those blue trophies,” he said.
Patrick’s sponsors include K And K Kustomz, Power-Pole, Impulse Lithium Batteries, Missile Baits, Chaddy Boys, Easy Culling App, Sunstream Solutions, RedFin Sunglasses, Douglas Rods, Calcoast Fishing and VFX Wraps.
Follow along with Patrick’s journey on Instagram, @kgpfishing.