UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Tour Newcomers: Dalton Cooksey

Tour Newcomers: Dalton Cooksey
Former high school angler Dalton Cooksey is looking to make his mark on the Walmart FLW Tour.

Dalton Cooksey did everything but sit in the doorway of FLW headquarters to sign up as a pro on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, and if push had come to shove, he would have done that too.

As it was, the Kentucky angler was among the first few callers to enter on Dec. 2, which was the day designated for Ranger owners to get a jump on others after the Tour’s veteran pros had committed the day before. Good thing for him, because the 150 pro slots filled up quickly, and a few dozen anglers were unable to join this year.

Cooksey, 20, is the youngest pro in this year’s Tour field and certainly among the most eager to prove himself in the season-opener at Lake Toho and beyond. The Bass Federation and FLW are eager for Cooksey to prove himself, too. He’s a graduate of their co-sponsored High School Fishing program, which began in 2011.

Cooksey doesn’t remember the exact moment when he decided that he wanted to be a bass pro, but recalls that the idea came to him during his junior year at Calloway County High School in Murray, Ky. Cooksey and four or five others formed the school’s first bass club (which has 25 members now), and he soon developed a keen interest in competitive fishing.

“I hadn’t been bass fishing very long, and I was pretty casual about it,” recalls Cooksey. “My dad [Tim] only fished occasionally. A family friend, Russ Moran of Manchester [Tenn.], got me interested in bass fishing starting about seven years ago. I used to go fishing with him quite a bit, especially on Kentucky Lake. Then I got into High School Fishing, and I really liked that. It got me hooked on tournament fishing.”

After graduation, Cooksey entered the family plumbing business and started saving money to fuel his newfound interest in tournaments. He fished in some Walmart Bass Fishing League events and began to hone his fishing and boat-handling skills. Last year he was a co-angler on the Tour and earned $4,200. That was a learning experience in itself, more so because he got to fish with some of the best pros in the game, including his two favorite partners, Stacey King and Richard Peek.

“Stacey King and Richard Peek are great,” says Cooksey. “When I fished with them they really were interested in teaching me things and helping me catch fish. I thoroughly enjoyed being on the water with them. They’re not the only ones, but they’re the ones that stick out in my mind.”

As the 2014 season progressed, he decided his apprenticeship as a co-angler would have a short lifespan and he would turn pro in 2015.

“I’d rather have control over where I fish and how I fish so if I do make a mistake then it’s my mistake and not somebody else’s,” he philosophizes. “Last year, in one tournament, I was shut out by my partner. He culled, like, 10 times and finished the day with about 18 pounds. I didn’t have a fish. That’s what cost me getting in the Forrest Wood Cup. If I’d had just one fish I could have made it, or come real close. I got a check in every tournament except Beaver Lake, but I still was about 12 points out by the end of the year.”

Having grown up on Kentucky Lake at New Concord, a small community between Murray and Paris Landing, Tenn., Cooksey considers ledge fishing to be one of his strengths, but he also likes fishing aquatic vegetation. For that reason, he rates Lake Okeechobee as his favorite tournament destination of all.

Young gun Dalton Cooksey had a decent limit early and was hunting a big bite.

The Big O isn’t on the Tour menu this year, but Cooksey is also fishing the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division in 2015, and its first tournament was at Okeechobee last weekend. Cooksey finished in 52nd place.

He runs a silver and red Ranger Z521C with a matching Evinrude E-Tec G2 and without any sponsor wrap. Cooksey doesn’t have any financial boosters other than himself and his family at the moment, but hopes to change that soon.

“I feel good about fishing Toho [in the Tour season-opener in March], Chickamauga and the Potomac River,” says Cooksey. “Some of the other lakes don’t exactly suit my style and strengths, but I know that I’ve got to be able to fish a lot of different water in a lot of different ways to do well, so I hope to learn fast.”

Considering he only got bit by the tournament bug a few years ago, Cooksey has already shown that he catches on quickly. Now, if only he can demonstrate that his fishing skill matches up with his ambition.

Tags: colin-moore  article 

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