Tim Horton was the last rookie to win the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award. He's qualified for 11 Bassmaster Classics, won four B.A.S.S. events and earned more than $1 million in B.A.S.S. competition. Here's how he fared against our 20 Questions.
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1. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Tuscumbia, Ala., and raised in Russellville, Ala.
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2. How did you get started in bass fishing?
My grandfather had a farm pond, and I spent countless hours fishing there. My dad used to carry me there so I could go fishing. I started out catching catfish, but I eventually started chasing bass in the small lakes and ponds around Russellville.
Photo: Courtesy of Tim Horton
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3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?
My earliest heroes were Larry Nixon and Denny Brauer. When I got to college, I started following David Fritts (pictured here). He really ignited my passion for deep cranking.
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4. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?
I caught a 12-8 from Clear Lake in California while sight fishing with a white Booyah jig.
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5. What do you love most about bass fishing?
Finding them. For me, the most fulfilling part of the sport is locating the fish and putting a pattern together.
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6. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why?
Pickwick Lake. It's my home water, and it's really hot right now.
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7. Who has been the biggest influence in your fishing or fishing career?
It would have to be Shaw Grigsby. More than anything else, he's really helped me understand the business aspect of the sport.
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8. When did you realize you had "made it" in the bass fishing industry?
When I knew I had won the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year in 2000, it was a really gratifying moment. I knew at that point that I could compete at the highest level.
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9. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your fishing career?
I'd love to win the Bassmaster Classic. My daughters are at an age now where they'd really appreciate and enjoy that. Plus, I'm at a point in my career where I think I'd appreciate it more than I would have five or 10 years ago. Ultimately, I just want to keep enjoying what I'm doing.
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10. What keeps you motivated to reach those goals?
My dad worked in the maintenance department of a telephone company. He never missed a day, and he never complained. That gave me a real appreciation for work and effort in a job. I also like to win and do well for my sponsors. They believe in me, and I believe in them and their products. I don't want to let them down. I want to be successful for those who believe in me — family, friends, sponsors and fans.
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11. What are we doing right as a sport?
There's a great youth movement going on out there in the fishing world. There are now some terrific college and high school bass programs that didn't exist just a few years ago. Nothing makes me want to be a kid again more than that!
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12. What are we doing wrong as a sport?
I think we're too focused on competition when we should be thinking more about taking kids fishing.
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13. What is the biggest challenge we face as a sport?
Our youth are not getting outdoors as much as they should. Kids need to be playing outdoors more. Technology has put them indoors, and we need to find a way to get them outside and enjoying nature.
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14. What is the biggest challenge you've faced in your career?
Just getting started professionally was a big hurdle. The business end of the sport is a Catch-22. The big events have big entry fees and big expenses, so you need sponsors to be able to compete at that level. But to get sponsors, you need to be fishing the big events.
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15. What is the best advice you ever received in your career?
Early in my career, Clark Wendlandt told me not to worry about sponsorships —just worry about fishing.
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16. What is your greatest strength as a professional angler?
Finding the sweet spots off the beaten path. Unfortunately, it sometimes costs me in tournaments because it's easy for me to spend too much time looking for those kinds of places.
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17. What is your greatest weakness as a professional angler?
I'm not happy when I'm fishing in a crowd and doing what the rest of the tournament field is doing. That costs me, too, because sometimes I might be better off by grinding it out in a community hole and picking up some points.
Photo: Ken Duke
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18. What has been the biggest regret of your fishing career?
I don't have any big regrets. Everything that's happened to me in my career has shaped me somehow, so I wouldn't be where I am or who I am without it. I'm about as happy as I can be right now.
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19. What profession (other than your own) would you like to have tried?
I probably be a youth counselor if I hadn't gotten into professional fishing. I have a degree in psychology, and it would have been interesting to work in that field.
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20. When it's all over, how do you want the bass fishing world to remember you?