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Robertson Looking for Redemption

Robertson Looking for Redemption
Darrel Robertson

Darrel Robertson was disgusted with himself. The Jay, Okla., pro and 1999 Forrest Wood Cup champion had just finished a disappointing 74th at the last FLW Tour event of the season on the Potomac River. He was out of the money and seemingly out of contention for a coveted spot in the 2017 Cup at Lake Murray.

What really stung, however, was what could have been. On the last day before the cut, he’d had a 4-pounder on with 15 minutes to go.

That single fish could have meant a $10,000 check and a spot at the Cup, but when it threw the hook and sunk back into the depths of the Potomac, Robertson figured his chances had sunk right along with it. He’d go back to Oklahoma; back to running his business, feeding his cattle and watching this year’s Cup from afar.

As it turns out, Robertson figured wrong.

“I was halfway home when I got the call telling me I’d made it,” says Robertson, who admits he had no idea – considering his dismal finale to a generally frustrating year – that he even had a shot.

“I thought there was no way I should have made the championship,” says Robertson. “I wound up 40th place [in the season standings] and only got one check. Heck, I missed a check in six straight tournaments and still made it. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before.”

Darrel Robertson

Indeed, a look at Robertson’s season would seem to bear out his skepticism. The nine-time Cup qualifier started out strong at Guntersville, finishing 12th and earning what would end up being his only check of the season. But then he followed that with an 88th at Travis, 63rd at the Harris Chain, 65th at Cumberland, 55th at Beaver (which would be his next-highest finish of the season) and 69th on the Mississippi River before that 4-pound heartbreaker sealed the deal on his 74th-place finish on the Potomac.

For Robertson, that one lost fish pretty much sums up his season.

“I was always just on the verge of having a really good year,” he recalls. “And then I’d lose that key fish or two. It’s like I did that in every tournament. I’d always fish well in practice, and I always felt like I had a good plan when I took off in the morning, but then I’d lose that one fish. But I guess sometimes you do that; either you catch them or you don’t.”

Robertson should know: He’s been catching them (or not) as an FLW pro for the past 21 years. He knows all too well the fickle nature of professional bass fishing, which can send you soaring one day (or season) only to crush you the next. And when it comes to the Cup, he’s definitely been crushed before.   

“When we fished the Potomac two years ago, [Tournament Director] Bill Taylor told me if I finished second I’d make the Cup,” recalls Robertson. “I finished fourth. I was the first guy out. This year, Bill Taylor told me I was the luckiest guy around, and I said, ‘If you’ll remember, I’ve been the first guy out about three times.’”

Darrel Robertson

He may have gone from the first guy out to the last guy in, but Robertson’s competitive fires haven’t dimmed at all. With almost $2 million in career winnings, this has been a remarkably steady and successful career, so it’s not like making the Cup this year has somehow re-invigorated his fire. Still, Robertson does admit that making the Cup – luckiest guy or not – is a bit of redemption for the frustrations of the season. And he plans on making the most of it.

“I feel like I’ve got a good chance to win this one down there,” he says. “I found a little bit of stuff when I went by there, stuff that maybe no one else is on.”

Robertson says he’s primarily a jig and worm fisherman, but he freely admits he doesn’t think he’s going to be able to do that at Murray.

“It’ll be an interesting tournament to fish,” he says. “I like to do one thing all day long, but I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen this time around. I think a guy is going to have to need, depending on what time of day it is and what the weather’s doing, at least two or three patterns.”

In addition to winning it all in ’99, Robertson has come oh-so-close twice before. He finished fifth in 2000 and in 2007 was runner-up to champion Scott Suggs. If he doesn’t win it all this year, might this Cup be Robertson’s swan song, the eulogy to a long and successful career? After all, he has a thriving business with 48 employees and a thousand head of cattle to feed on his ranch back home in Jay. Robertson has a lot of irons in the fire, irons not named bass.

Uh, no. After 21 years and some 200-odd FLW tournaments under his belt, Robertson is pretty emphatic about not having plans to quit fishing, and he definitely has no plans to make the 2017 Cup his farewell party.

“Nope,” he says. “As long as I can fish and feel like I’ve got a chance to win a tournament, I’m going to keep fishing. And I think I’ve got a chance to win this one.”


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Tags: chad-love  pre-tournament  2017-08-11-forrest-wood-cup 

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