UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Fishing the All-American

Fishing the All-American
Todd Walters slings a worm.

(Editor’s Note: Todd Walters is a veteran BFL angler from North Carolina. Walters qualified for the BFL All-American in 2013, 2015 and 2016. 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.)


If you do the math, it is almost astonishing how hard it is to make the FLW Bass Fishing League All-American and what an honor it is to participate in this event. Thousands of anglers try, but only a handful make it through the regional qualification process each year. I have been very fortunate to fish two out of the last three, and will fish the All-American this year in Cadiz, Ky., on Lake Barkley.

My wish is that everyone who competes in BFL tournaments will get to experience the All-American. It truly is an amazing experience, and a goal that everyone who competes on the weekends should strive to achieve.

From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, you really get to understand how appreciated we are as anglers that compete in the BFL tournament trail. We are treated like royalty by the FLW staff and the manufacturer staff. We are fed well; get to use state-of-the-art equipment; and never have to drop a dime for gas, oil, ice, snacks, water or anything needed to fish comfortably.

I always get a kick out of the opening-night dinner before the practice day. Everyone is on cloud 9, and everyone is giddy and smiling. This all ends pretty quickly after dinner, when boat numbers are assigned and every starts loading boats with rods and tackle. That’s when it gets very real, very fast, and it’s all business.

The All-American is not an event where you fish for points or want to fish conservatively. The guys you are up against are without a doubt some of the best fishermen on the planet. Many successful fishing careers have been built from this event. It truly is life-changing. With that being said, you swing for the fence, and you swing hard. You accept the fact that you might fall flat on your face (see last year’s results: 46th out of 49 fisherman), and you don’t have any regrets.

It’s very hard and borderline embarrassing to walk across the stage after failing to have a good day in a tournament that you have worked so hard to reach. It’s a very hard, bitter pill to swallow. In my opinion, you can do two things. You can feel sorry for yourself, and ask why. Or you can dust yourself off, walk with your head held high, smile and use it as motivation to get back.

Last year after day one, I sat at dinner with fishing legend Woo Daves. He could tell I was down, and asked what I thought I did wrong. I didn’t have an answer. He said, “If you don’t have an answer, then you didn’t do ANYTHING wrong. You made it to the BFL All-American. There are thousands of BFL fishermen at home right now, and they would trade anything to have an opportunity to be here. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and use it as motivation to get back.”

Anyone that knows Woo knows he has no filter and is not afraid to tell it how it is. His words stuck with me and motivated me more than ever. Last fall, I went out and won the regional on Lake Wateree, and will be going back to the All-American. I am very proud of this and will approach the 2016 All-American the same way: swing hard, and have no regrets.

If you are reading this and you compete in BFL tournaments, my hope is that each and every one of you gets an opportunity to compete in this event. It is a life-changing experience that can lead to what we all dream about: to fish for a living.

Tags: todd-walters  blog 

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