April 30, 2013 by Kyle Wood
The Walmart FLW Tour has seen a huge boost of young pros entering the scene this year. Guys like Drew Benton and Michael Neal have set the tone for many of the young guns, but there is another rookie pro quietly working his way up the ranks within the Angler of the Year standings - 21-year-old Austin Terry.
His 2013 fishing season with FLW actually began with the EverStart Series Texas Division event on Lake Amistad. After three hard days of fishing, Terry finally captured his first FLW title in what is only his second year fishing the full Texas Division.
However, the San Angelo, Texas resident got off to a much slower start in his FLW Tour debut on Lake Okeechobee as he finished in 171st place.
"I had some boat troubles on the Okeechobee that really cost me because I ended up checking in 15 minutes late," said Terry. "It's just one of those things and its part of tournament fishing but it was not a good way to start the tour season."
He left Okeechobee - broken boat in tow - and headed back to Texas for second EverStart Texas Division tournament on Toledo Bend. Terry could only manage a day of practice and with tough conditions and his boat still not 100 percent, he found himself in 83rd place with only one bass.
"After that EverStart on Toledo Bend I was feeling pretty bad," the Texas pro went on to say. "I just tried to do my best to forget about it and move on to get ready for Smith (the second stop of the tour)."
And forget he did. Terry has since gone on to capture back-to-back top 20s from both Lewis Smith Lake (14th place) and Beaver Lake (11th place).
"I didn't have a great practice at Smith so I was very worried. Some of the places I thought had decent fish on them turned out to have really good fish on them. I just kept a drop-shot in my hand the whole time, which is something that I am very comfortable with even on big-fish lakes in Texas.
"And when I went to Beaver for practice I spent so much time throwing the A-rig. I think that really hurt me because I couldn't really get anything going with it. I realized the fish were out just a little bit deeper so I threw a crankbait on days one and two and got some big bites. I had to change a little on day three and threw the A-rig some and some finesse stuff. I lost a few nice fish that would have really helped me but I just stayed focused and blocked out what happened earlier in the year."
Terry has brushed off his shaky first half of the year as he now sets his sights on the final events. He currently sits 55th in points - a major turnaround considering his start - and the last leg of the season should give the rookie a chance to fish more to his liking.
"Going into the year I felt like I would be more confident in the last three events. It will take a lot bigger bags to compete which is more my style. I like big fish and big baits as well as fishing offshore and grass, so these last three tournaments should be fun. I feel a lot more confident in the postspawn and early summer months than I did in the previous tournaments."
Having never been to any of the lakes on the 2013 tour schedule before Terry seems calm and collected about facing these new challenges.
"I haven't been able to get to any of the lakes so far to practice before the cutoff and I probably won't this year. Most of the lakes are a good haul from my house, except Grand, so that keeps me from getting out to these lakes. I try to get out and fish local tournaments or just fish for fun when I can between the tour, otherwise I save money for the next event. I do my research on the next lake and keep an open mind as I prepare."
With a fresh breath of life, Terry looks to carry his momentum all the way to the Forrest Wood Cup.
"I'm still learning to adjust to the changes over multiple days of competition. I need to have the confidence to drop what I'm doing, make a change and stick with it. I have been fishing for checks and when that looks like it's going to happen then I go for big bites and that will be my plan for the rest of the year. All I wanted to do this year is be able to compete with these guys and cash checks. Of course I want to make the Forrest Wood Cup and if I keep after it I may have a shot. I definitely didn't realize just how hard it would be to even make the top 50."