Bass fisherman Brent Chapman is living the dream
The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — When Brent Chapman was a boy, he would travel to the Kansas City Sportshow with his dad and sit in awe as his heroes on the BASS pro circuit gave fishing seminars.
Today, the roles have been reversed. The Lake Quivira fisherman is on top of the bass fishing world after winning the BASS Elite Series Angler of the Year award last year. He was recently in the spotlight, not in the stands, when the Boat and Sportshow came to Kansas City, Mo., earlier this month.
“I would always look forward to going down to the Sportshow and seeing some of the guys I had watched on TV and read about,” said Chapman, 40. “I always dreamed about becoming a pro fisherman, and it was exciting to be able to meet some of the big names.
“Fishermen like Denny Brauer, Guido Hibdon, Jimmy Houston — they were guys I had always looked up to. I would take notes and go out on Lake Quivira and try some of the methods they were talking about and I’d catch fish.”
At the show, it was Chapman who was passing out fishing tips. After 17 years on the BASS pro tour, he has become one of the sport’s superstars. And speaking engagements at the Boat and Sportshow are just one of the many perks of that stardom.
Since winning the prestigious Angler of the Year title in August, his life has been a whirlwind.
—Chapman fulfilled a lifelong dream by making the cover of Bassmaster magazine in November.
—He has been featured in several full-page ads in other outdoors magazines.
—Shortly after winning the title, he received the key to the town of Lake Quivira from mayor Wayne Hidalgo.
—Sponsors have signed him up for several signature lines of fishing tackle.
—He has started a new magazine, Bass Quest, with fellow pros Aaron Martens and Randy Howell.
—He will spend the winter traveling to do seminars and make appearances.
Hectic? Yes. But still a dream come true.
“The Angler of the Year award is something that every pro dreams about,” Chapman said. “It shows that you’re consistent, that you can adjust to different conditions and catch fish no matter what happens.
“To make it at this level, you have to be diverse. You can’t rely on one lure or one method.
“You have to make adjustments and catch fish a number of different ways. And I think I really have gotten better at that.”
There was no better example of that than the Elite Series tournament in Juneat Toledo Bend Reservoir, on the Texas-Louisiana state line. Chapman went against the grain and fished with a method few of the other pros had tried. He fished with a flutter spoon, caught 83.9 pounds of bass in four days and took the championship.
“I had never fished a flutter spoon much at all,” he said. “But the way the bass were acting, I figured that would work and it paid off.”
Chapman started the season on a positive note in February, winning a Central Open at Lewisville Lake in Texas. That gave him an automatic berth in the Bassmaster Classic and set the tone for the season.
“I t took all the pressure off,” he said. “I was able to swing for the fences (in other tournaments) instead of just fishing conservatively.
“I was able to fish more aggressively and gambled more than I usually would.”
For Chapman, the Angler of the Year title represented a high that had been preceded by a low.
In 2011, he barely qualified for the Classic after having a string of tournaments in which he didn’t cash a check. That served as an eye-opener, he said.
“I knew I was going to have to make some changes,” he said. “I knew I had to step it up.”
Part of that change involved becoming more organized — all of the way from his tackle to his schedule. He began working with Travis Perret, a local exercise therapist, to get in better shape to handle to rigors of the pro fishing tour. And he went into each tournament better prepared.
Those changes resulted in one of the best years of his life. Fittingly, it ended on the last day of the year when he went bow hunting at a managed hunt at Lake Quivira.
He shot a big buck in the closing minutes of the season.
Now it’s time to think of 2013. He is turning his focus on the Classic, which takes place Feb. 22-24 at one of his favorite bodies of water, Grand Lake in Oklahoma. He is especially excited that the tournament is only 275 miles from home.
“Never in a million years did I dream that a Classic would be held on one of the lakes I grew up fishing,” he said. “This is the first Classic we’ve had in our region, and I’m hoping a lot of Kansas City-area people will drive down to see it.
“It’s something that every bass fisherman should attend at least once. It really is a show.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.