UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

More Than a Fisherman

More Than a Fisherman
Cody Kelley tried to pluck an early bite from the pads near the state park.

(Editor’s Note: The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.)

The competitive fishing world is a small one, and when narrowed down to the competitive bass fishing world, it is even smaller in the grand scheme of things. This, of course, isn’t to say that this small group doesn’t have an absolutely huge impact. It does.

The flashy trucks, LED boat lights and celebratory screams whenever a fish is hoisted over the gunwale of a boat influence the fans that are watching. I’m not knocking any of this, because let’s face it, who doesn’t like to see a 5-pounder get boat-flipped by an excited pro?

To be completely honest, though, those things were about all that I saw when I first began pursuing my goal to reach the Walmart FLW Tour. In my mind, a professional angler’s day went something like this: Wake up, fish, weigh in, interview, re-tie and get some sleep before day two (and hopefully days three and four). For a select few, this might be the case, however, for most of us it isn’t even close. There’s so much more that anglers do besides fish.

Something that truly sets professional bass fishing apart from any other sport is the accessibility to the athletes. Anyone can walk right up to any of the anglers in the mornings or at weigh-ins. With this type of “open” format comes something great: the ability to do more than catch and weigh fish.

As anglers in the public eye we are instantly given an opportunity to help, influence and motivate thousands of people. As an example, this year I have been blessed to have a chance to travel the country representing Special Olympics of Arkansas to raise awareness for all of the absolutely great things that the organization does. Getting to work beside the athletes is truly inspirational and something that has completely changed my outlook on day-to-day life. Working with a group like Special Olympics is only one way to use the platform that FLW provides for giving back.

Everywhere we go, there are kids soaking in every word spoken and every action of the FLW anglers. This goes for all anglers. It doesn’t matter if you are a High School Fishing angler or a full-time Tour pro. When you put on your tournament jersey for the day, you instantly have the ability to influence tomorrow’s fishermen.

I believe that the rapid growth of the sport is an amazing thing, but I think that it is important for all of us to realize the effect we can have on the younger crowd just by taking a second to talk with kids. Maybe it’s a quick high five at the boat ramp, or stopping and asking what was the biggest bass he or she ever weighed (90 percent of the time they swear it was bigger than Dad’s). 

I know that many of you reading this were inspired by an older angler when you were younger. I know I was. Maybe this person wasn’t a professional, or even a tournament angler, but that didn’t matter. When you’re young and see someone older catching fish, he seems like the best on the lake, and you instantly want to be just like that person.

FLW does a fantastic job of connecting the anglers with the communities we visit while we are at events. Just having a few anglers take the time to go speak with kids at a local school has a lasting impact. I can’t imagine how many people could be influenced if all FLW members began taking a little time to reach out to their communities.

Anyone who has ever volunteered with an organization definitely knows that there are countless ways to help. Call your local Game and Fish group to find out where fishing derbies are being held. Stop by for an hour to interact with some of the contestants. Many high schools have fishing clubs now and are more than happy to have a tournament angler come and speak with the students about lessons learned while competing. There is no doubt that a small amount of time given back to the community always has an impact greater than what we could imagine.

So as this season goes on and we as competitive anglers focus on winning tournaments, let us not forget about who and what made us realize that we could achieve our goals in the first place. Take that little extra time to talk with kids, spectators or the newcomers. I promise that it all comes back to you and the industry in the end. Who knows, maybe that kid you gave that high five to will be tied up beside you at the dock one day, and that’s when you’ll know that it really was all worth it, and you’ll know you were more than just a fisherman.

Tags: cody-kelley  blog 

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

Following a great season in 2019, I just signed up for the FLW Pro Circuit for 2020. Foremost, I’m excited about the opportunities that are being provided by MLF and FLW. I see overall growth in the platform as we strive to be a bigger and better industry. READ MORE »

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

For the past several years, the FLW Foundation has been working diligently on a mission to introduce young people to their local natural resources. One strategy employed by the Foundation is to host free youth fishing derbies across the country. READ MORE »

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

One of the easiest and most controllable ways to save time and be efficient on the water is to keep tackle organized and accessible. Hard baits are easy to organize in Plano boxes, but soft plastics can sometimes cause a bit of a headache. Here are some tips for doing it based on how I go about tackling the issue.  READ MORE »

How to Land More Bass

How to Land More Bass

My technique for fighting a bass depends significantly on the equipment – my Dobyns rod, Ardent reel, Seaguar line and Cornerstone Baits – that I’m using at the time. READ MORE »

God, Grace, Grit

God, Grace, Grit

Life isn’t always easy, and we all find ourselves in situations that seem impossible to overcome. But with God, grace and grit we have not only persevered, we have risen. And we are continuing to rise together, and can commit to uplifting one another along the way. No matter what you are going through on or off the water, know that with God, grace and grit, but most of all God, anything is possible. READ MORE »

How to Prepare for Big Water 

How to Prepare for Big Water 

As many of you know, fishing big water for giant smallmouths is my favorite type of fishing. Competing on the Great Lakes, 1000 Islands, St. Clair, Champlain and other big Northern fisheries is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it gets rough, which is why it’s critical that you have the correct equipment and understand how to use it. READ MORE »

How to be a Pro Angler 

How to be a Pro Angler 

I get a lot of questions from young and old anglers alike about the steps to becoming a pro. I guess maybe sometimes I take it for granted. The process seems somewhat obvious to me. How to execute on it might not be simple, but the steps you need to take really are. There are only a couple of ways to get into this sport, and they all start at the grassroots level, in $200 and $300 tournaments.  READ MORE »

Introducing Myself

Introducing Myself

I want to start off by telling you a little bit about myself. I grew up in Pennsylvania about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up fishing for whatever would bite with my grandfather and in middle school I had a friend who started taking me with his dad down to the Chesapeake Bay. That was my first time ever on a bass boat, and I was immediately hooked! READ MORE »

Riding the Roller Coaster

Riding the Roller Coaster

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, although it seems like the last one was just yesterday. This season has flown by, and I finally have some down time before the last stop on the FLW Tour at Lake Champlain. This Tour season has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot. READ MORE »

The History of the Drop-Shot

The History of the Drop-Shot

FLW Tour pro James Niggemeyer recalls his first introduction to the drop-shot, as well as what came before it and how he developed his tackle to have better success with this capable finesse bass bait. READ MORE »

From Dead Last to Making Money

From Dead Last to Making Money

If you were hanging out with me at the FLW Tour event on Seminole recently, you would have thought I won the tournament. I was congratulated by every pro I saw, and they were being genuine. READ MORE »

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Watching giant bags of bass caught down in Texas and Florida on FLW Live during FLW Tour events has many anglers dying to get on the water. The only problem is that a lot of people are still facing some of the toughest conditions for catching a bass – cold, muddy, moving water.   READ MORE »

How to Deal with Dock Talk

How to Deal with Dock Talk

If you fish tournaments or follow tournament fishing, you know about dock talk. It’s the chatter that goes on among bass fishermen during and around tournaments on subjects such as how the fish are biting, what patterns are in play, the weather and just how much of a grind it’s been. Dock talk can be dangerous. It can lead you astray if you listen to the wrong person. It can hurt your confidence if you hear about someone else really catching ’em doing something different. It can distract you from your game plan and your goals. Dock talk rarely gives you the complete story. READ MORE »

Moving into My New Office

Moving into My New Office

The new year to many professional fishermen also means a new boat. Some people like the smell of a new car — who doesn’t, really? But the smell of new fiberglass is better than that. It’s better than the smell of warm apple pie to me. READ MORE »

How to Work in Fishing

How to Work in Fishing

There was a time when the only way to make money at fishing and to express your love for our sport was by fishing tournaments, but that’s just not true anymore. With the growth curve we’ve had, the economic muscle of the fishing industry has spawned some interesting opportunities that didn’t really exist years ago.  Now, there are many jobs in the fishing industry that allow someone with a creative mind to indulge in what they love to do. I get to be around a lot of pros, but my job has also brought me into contact with a lot of folks with other jobs in fishing. So, here are four people I think you should follow and study if you know you belong in the fishing industry, but you don’t know exactly where yet. READ MORE »