UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

From the All-American to the Cup

From the All-American to the Cup
Brennon McCord

Brennon McCord is a self-described quiet, easygoing guy, but the 22-year-old T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League All-American champion hopes to make some Lake Hamilton noise in his first FLW Cup appearance. For the moment, understandably so, he’s still basking in the afterglow of a victory that earned what he calls the biggest honor of his career.

“It’s unbelievable. It still hasn’t sunk in,” says the journeyman lineman from West Frankfort, Ill. “I’ve grown up watching that event. I’ve looked up to the guys that fish that event, and now, I can’t believe I’ll be there.”

A BFL Illini Division boater since 2014 (non-boater in 2013), McCord has notched eight top-10 finishes, including two wins – this season’s All-American and a 2018 regular-season event on southern Illinois’ Rend Lake – and earned more than $113,000. His grassroots experience has taught him many lessons of practical and tactical merit, but McCord points to the mental game as his biggest growth area.

“It’s made me a much better angler by learning how to make gutsy decisions – good and bad,” he says. “It’s also given me a different outlook. I used to just worry about points and making the championships, but now I fish to win.”

A big part of that has been his burgeoning confidence. To that point, McCord recalls a BFL event on Rend Lake when he found himself with two good fish that had him on course for a possible win. Unfortunately, he admits to getting in his own way and failing to fill his limit.

“It was early in my fishing career, and I just got nervous and made a rookie mistake,” McCord says. “Now, I don’t get myself all nervous and worked up. In every tournament, I think I have a chance to win. I don’t get intimidated. I really go out to have a good time.”

 

Brennon McCord

A family fishing history

A journeyman lineman who spends his days ensuring consistent electrical power for southern Illinois, McCord is set to marry to Mackenzie Campbell on Oct. 27 – four days before competing in the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland.

Between work and tournaments, he spends a lot of time on home improvement projects. Each fall, McCord also puts some hours into local deer stands and duck blinds, but he dreams of making a run to Kansas one of these yeas for a shot at a trophy whitetail or some serious water-fowling.

McCord traces his bass-fishing roots to his adolescent years of bending rods with his father and grandfather. While his personal best was an estimated 10-pounder he plucked from a local pond, McCord’s favorite angling memory was partnering with his dad, Neil, at age 15 to win a boat in the Illini Team Trail Classic.

“Being able to experience that with my dad was incredible,” Brennon says. “I already had the fire lit, but that topped it off. The confidence went up a lot.”

Balancing the pride, Brennon carries with him a deep family principle stressed by both of his angling mentors.

“Sportsmanship was the biggest focus for my dad and my granddad,” he recalls. “My dad taught me that no matter if you zero and get beat; even if you don’t like the guy that won, you still go up and shake his hand.

“I try to get along with everyone, whether I’m at work or on the water. My dad raised me to be ethical and friendly to everyone around me.”

 

Brennon McCord

(Mostly) unfamiliar waters

McCord spent a few days on Lake Hamilton prior to the cutoff and came away with a sobering reality: Not only is the lake a party boat haven, it’s kinda the opposite of what he considers his strength.

“If I had a choice, I would fish the shallowest, muddiest water I can find,” McCord says. “I like fishing slower baits, but I fish them fast. I like to flip a jig and cover a lot of shoreline.

“I really think that this lake’s deep, clear water will push me to do something different. I’ll probably have to go buy a couple of spinning rods.”

Noting that his brief visit to Hamilton was more about recon than pattern identification, McCord says he’ll start the Cup’s official practice with a clean slate.

“I’ll approach it like it’s a brand new lake because I didn’t figure out anything except it’s deep and clear,” he says. “I’ll stay positive and hopefully cross paths with something.”

 

Brennon McCord

Looking ahead

A Cup win would have major career implications for a young angler whose resume already includes a major championship. 

“I’ve dreamed about this ever since I was a child,” McCord says. “I’m hoping it’s a stepping stone to my career, but even if I don’t catch a bass in three days, I’ve qualified for the FLW Cup.”

Then again, there’s nothing wrong with planning for both ends of the possibility spectrum. McCord already has a contingency plan for the best-case scenario.

“I’d pay off my house and take my fiancée on an extended vacation,” he says. “It’s pretty much non-stop fishing, and she puts up with it all.”

And that begs the natural question: Could the future Mrs. McCord someday see her husband weighing fish in FLW Tour competition?

“I got an invitation to fish the 2020 Tour, but I’m not sure I have the finances ready for that yet,” McCord says. “A lot of that will depend on sponsorship.

“I would definitely like to try it and see how it goes. That is my goal.”

And an FLW Cup win would certainly hasten that goal.

Tags: david-a-brown  article  2019-08-09-flw-cup-lake-hamilton 

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