Live now : ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING 2020 Ft. Gibson

Austin Wilson is Living His Dream

Austin Wilson is Living His Dream
Austin Wilson

Living the dream means a little something different to everyone. For some, like Austin Wilson, it’s more about the journey than the destination – though that destination is very much dictating the way Wilson is going about his journey.

As the 2018 The Bass Federation National Champion and winner of the TBF Living the Dream package, Wilson was awarded full entry fees for the FLW Tour this season, as well as travel stipends for each event and a cash prize, all of which equated to about $120,000. He’s also running a wrapped Living the Dream Ranger. Why, then, is the Citrus Heights, Calif., pro living out of his truck and sleeping on the deck of his boat this season?

“It’s my doing,” he admits. “I want to save money for next year. This is what I want to do. I don’t want to go back to work. I want to fish.”

Wilson has enough money banked from the Living the Dream package to sleep in hotels and rental properties this season. He has the means to eat at nice restaurants, do laundry regularly and live what most of us would call a comfortable life. But money only lasts so long, and Wilson understands that living his dream – truly living it beyond this year – means saving money now. Being thrifty. Living the adventure so the adventure can continue long beyond 2019.

“I don’t really have any sponsors helping me out,” he says. “I won the TBF National Championship back in April, so my entry fees are paid for, and I have expense money too, but I’m thinking of next year. My hope is to be able to get some sponsors to help me out, but as of right now I don’t have any sponsors. My thought is if I hold onto it I can pay my entry fees next year.”

Wilson wants to fish professionally, and he wants to do it full-time. Until this season, he was working at Sysco Foods in California, moving and loading trucks on a 7 p.m.-3:30 a.m. overnight shift. Wilson doesn’t want to go back to that, though he says Sysco has left the door open for his return should he need to. They simply couldn’t accommodate the unusual schedule associated with fishing seven Tour stops throughout the year.

In order to continue chasing his dreams, Wilson decided to pinch pennies in the best way he knows how: living a nomadic existence that involves a little camping, a lot of fishing and as much adventure as he wants.

“The plan is to stay in campgrounds and stay in the truck, find a campground that has showers, stuff like that,” he adds. “I’ve got plenty of clothes with me. I’m ready to sleep on my boat the rest of the season.

“I have a couple ice chests. I go grocery shopping and buy ice and make sure everything’s cold. Every morning and every night I have a little propane heater, and it’s perfect for a frying pan. I’ve been cooking eggs and bacon in the morning. I’ve been doing chilidogs. I brought brisket out from home, and I ate that for a while. I’ve had burgers and salads and some potatoes. I try to keep it simple. I don’t get bored of stuff. I can eat hot dogs for a while.”

The 27 year old loves camping. He’s an outdoorsman at heart, and he’s been hunting, fishing and generally enjoying the great outdoors since he was 9 years old. To some, sleeping on the deck of a bass boat every night would feel like a hardship. For Wilson, it’s part of the thrill and just one small step toward fishing the Tour in 2020 and beyond.

The California native has never fished lakes such as Sam Rayburn Reservoir or Lake Toho or any number of lakes in the southern United States – lakes that litter the 2019 Tour schedule. And as committed as Wilson is to succeeding, he’s made a point to spend as much time on the waters of those fisheries as he can. He’s been from Texas to Florida to Georgia and back to Florida for the Tour’s second stop at Toho – pre-fishing, practicing and competing along the way. It’s Wilson’s way of committing himself fully to his dream.

“I’ve been on the water every day since before Rayburn,” he says. “I went down to Toho before it went off limits and fished there five or six days. Then, I drove up [to Lake Seminole].”

Each block of time at those lakes has allowed Wilson to get a feel for the fisheries, both in how to fish them and how to navigate their waters, which is especially important at a lake like Seminole that is besieged with stumps and standing timber. Part of being a rookie with no experience on the lakes at which he will compete this year is knowing where to run, and especially where not to run.

That extra time on the water paid off for Wilson at Rayburn, where he took 55th place and earned a $9,500 check. It worked out even better at Toho with a 24th-place finish and a $10,500 payday. Sure, he could use some of that money to live out of hotels the next several months, but where’s the fun in that?

“I’m up for the challenge,” he says. “How cold is it going to get tonight? Can I sleep through it? I kind of push myself a little bit.”

Wilson isn’t married, but he does have a girlfriend of nine years, Heather Kellerman, who both works and is in the midst of completing a vet tech program at Carrington College. She wants to travel with Wilson next season if he again makes the Tour roster, though Wilson expects that travel experience might be quite different than the 2019 iteration.

“She misses me, of course, and she wants to travel with me next year if I make the top 100 and I’m able to fish next year,” Wilson says. “Obviously, it would be a little different if she was with me now. I’d probably get a hotel or even buy a camper for my truck and go that route. As of right now she’s all for me doing my thing.”

A thing that includes finding campgrounds with laundry facilities and sleeping at boat ramps with well-lit parking lots so he can rig rods at night. A thing that might be a one-year adventure, at least if everything goes according to plan.

“Any way I can save a little bit of money,” he adds. “I’m not really cheap, but I want to be able to fish next year. As long as I can save some money and be able to pay for entry fees and stuff, I’ll do it.”

So far, he’s both making and saving money. And if he keeps fishing the way he has already this season, you can count on Wilson making his dream last for quite a while.

Tags: austin-wilson  tbf  ranger  justin-onslow  bio 

Big Bags on Tap at Pickwick

Big Bags on Tap at Pickwick

After a four-month hiatus, it’s almost time for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division to get back after it. The season resumes on July 18 and July 19 with back-to-back tournaments on Pickwick Lake. While each tournament may fish a bit like a two-day event, each day of competition is a standalone tournament with a winner crowned after each day. READ MORE »

Wrapping Practice with Jon Canada

Wrapping Practice with Jon Canada

Second-year Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Jon Canada enters the first of three Super Tournaments down the stretch run of the season ranked third in Angler of the Year points. After a 10th-place finish at Sam Rayburn to start the season, he tacked on a 20th at the Harris Chain and 21st at Martin, and he’s looking to keep that consistency rolling on Chickamauga this week. READ MORE »

Roaming Chick with Cole Floyd

Roaming Chick with Cole Floyd

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit rookie Cole Floyd is a rookie by definition only. Despite living in Ohio until joining the Bethel University fishing team, it hasn’t taken long for the young phenom to make his mark on the Tennessee River, from Kentucky Lake to Guntersville, Pickwick to Chickamauga. Floyd was gracious enough to allow me to ride along with him for the first day of practice on Chickamauga for a firsthand look at how he’s preparing to get the job done. READ MORE »

Hoosier Division Kicks off with Doubleheader

Hoosier Division Kicks off with Doubleheader

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Hoosier Division starts its season with back-to-back tournaments on Indiana’s Lake Monroe June 27 and 28, and it’s looking like big bags will be on tap. READ MORE »

John Cox’s Greatest Hits

John Cox’s Greatest Hits

FLW is looking forward to getting back on the water for the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit in a few weeks. In the meantime, we’re offering a little retrospective on some of the all-time greats who’ve fished with FLW through the years. READ MORE »

Volunteer Division Headed to Norris

Volunteer Division Headed to Norris

On June 20 and June 21, Norris Lake will play host to two separate Volunteer Division events. It’s not a two-day derby (as both tournaments will crown individual winners), but anyone who signs up for both events will get a little taste of the multi-day tournament life. READ MORE »

Great Lakes Division Fires Up on Wolf River Chain

Great Lakes Division Fires Up on Wolf River Chain

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Great Lakes Division is preparing to get underway on June 13 on the Wolf River Chain of Lakes, and it promises to be a derby predicated on catching good numbers any number of ways. READ MORE »

Q&A: Winnipeg Jets Goalie Connor Hellebuyck

Q&A: Winnipeg Jets Goalie Connor Hellebuyck

The Michigan native, who now spends plenty of time on the ice in Winnipeg – both playing hockey and chasing after walleyes – grew up fishing, and bass fishing has become one of his favorite fair-weather hobbies. We got a chance to chat with Hellebuyck about his background in fishing, his future on the water and his present on the ice. READ MORE »

Jason Abram is More Than a Winner

Jason Abram is More Than a Winner

Jason Abram is many things: a dedicated husband, a loving father, a former athlete, a football coach, a professional bass angler. And you can now add Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit champion to the list after his win on Lake Martin. READ MORE »

FLW Lends Trailer for COVID-19 Testing

FLW Lends Trailer for COVID-19 Testing

The fight against the spread of COVID-19 isn’t an individual effort. It takes community-wide support to present a unified front against the pandemic that continues to disrupt the status quo of life in the U.S. and throughout the world. For its part, FLW continues to lend support wherever possible, including offering the use of one of its Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine weigh-in trailers to a community task force centered in Paducah, Ky., which is using the trailer as part of its outdoor COVID-19 testing facility. READ MORE »

The Rebirth of Spencer Shuffield

The Rebirth of Spencer Shuffield

Fall from grace stories are rarely told in the fishing world. Tournament pros come and go from year to year, some after having found a little success and some leaving the pro fishing world with little show for it. That’s the nature of a sport predicated on competing with the best of the best in a format that sometimes rewards chance. Often, hard work and skill aren’t enough to precipitate prolonged success. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Martin

AOY Update: Lake Martin

Through three events of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, second-year pro and 2019 Polaris Rookie of the Year Ron Nelson remains atop the Angler of the Year standings after a second-place finish at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Big Weights Headline FLW South Africa Event

Big Weights Headline FLW South Africa Event

With 38.03 pounds, the duo of Robbie Olivier and Neels Beneke of Team Gamakatsu Outdoors 365 took home the hardware in the FLW South Africa KZN Region Cast-for-Cash tournament on Feb. 20. Their five-fish limit was more than 12 pounds heavier than the second-place stringer (25.39 pounds) weighed in by Marc Meyer and Oliver Field of Team Stoner Farm. READ MORE »

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

Warren “Butch” Kritsberg has only lived in Florida for a few years, and he’s still learning a lot about fishing the Harris Chain of Lakes. Fortunately, he now has a lot of new intel about where and how to catch giants after riding along with Laramy Strickland on the second tournament day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event, which was presented by Bad Boy Mowers. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Each day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain of Lakes was markedly different from the day prior. Most of the field struggled a bit, and the final 30 anglers were left scrambling to figure out how to find and catch fish in the post-frontal conditions that are often so detrimental for Florida largemouths.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Baits from the Harris Chain

At Florida’s Harris Chain, in late winter, it’s a good bet the same handful of baits are going to produce more than any others, from Lake Harris down to Apopka. During the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on the Harris Chain, presented by Bad Boy Mowers, it was Texas rigs with black and blue plastics, jerkbaits, Carolina rigs and a few other moving baits that most often got the call.  READ MORE »

Strickland Hangs Tough on Harris

Strickland Hangs Tough on Harris

The final day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain was a bit tougher than expected. After putting over 30 pounds on the scale on day two of the weather-shortened derby, Laramy Strickland worked up 15 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day for a 61-4 total to earn the win. For the win, the Bushnell, Fla., rookie took home $100,000 and a big win over a stacked top 30 that included some of the best anglers in the country and some superstar Floridians. READ MORE »

Strickland Sticks 31-Pound Megabag

Strickland Sticks 31-Pound Megabag

Florida cold fronts are supposed to shut the fishing down, but that wasn’t the case for many of the leaders through two days of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain. Rocketing into the lead from 35th place, Laramy Strickland popped a 31-pound, 6-ounce megabag to put his leading total at an even 46 pounds. In second, Jimmy Washam stayed steady, weighing 21-13 for second and a 41-13 total. In third, Hunter Freeman also made a big jump, hammering out 25-14 on day two to get up to 39-6. READ MORE »

Salewske Cracks 26 at Harris Chain

Salewske Cracks 26 at Harris Chain

Day one of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bab Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain was a catchfest, but it wasn’t quite the sight-fishing showdown that some hoped for. In the lead, Rusty Salewske weighed 26 pounds, 10 ounces. Just ounces behind him, Miles Burghoff wrangled 26-8. In third, Jared McMillan put 22-1 on the scale to kick things off. READ MORE »

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

To say Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Tim Frederick loves fishing in Florida would be an understatement. The Leesburg local and fifth-year Pro Circuit veteran calls the Harris Chain of Lakes home, and his only FLW win came just a bit farther south on Okeechobee in 2018. After a 22nd-place finish in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River last week, Frederick has fully turned his attention to his home bodies of water. READ MORE »