With the season over and the stowing away of all my rig and tackle for the winter, you really begin to take into account the year in retrospect and the over-all overwhelming loneliness of sorts that can arise from knowing that you have to take a few months away from the sport about which you are passionate. In reality, none of it is possible without the individuals and companies that support your ambitions. I have been blessed to have accomplished quite a bit in my six years or less of bass fishing and it is important to keep that in mind in times when success is not reached. This is to all those who have believed in me, the ones who are willing to take a chance on a kid with dreams.
As a new and aspiring tournament angler my sophomore year of college, I must admit I had no idea what I was doing when it came to setting up a college bass fishing club or bass fishing for that matter. As I am sure you agree, there is no feeling like a first time experience: the endless possibilities that await you, the drive that nothing can stand in your way in all its naivete. I can recall coming home after competing in my first college regional event through FLW Outdoors and having such a strong drive that I went home on winter break and spent all my time writing letters to possible sponsors. I will admit to you that I went against many of the rules of obtaining sponsorship, all the way down to having barely used the baits, if at all, of a lot of the companies I was targeting. I probably sent upwards of forty letters to companies across the country and heard back from maybe ten. Most replies were along the lines of “thank you for keeping us in your thoughts” or “we have already allocated funds for the 2010 season.” Since I barely had any connection to many of the companies I sent letters the blow was softened. I must admit, helping fund a college club is a true investment, and without any credentials I don’t blame the companies in the slightest. One company, however, has made a lasting impression on my career, and I owe much of my early confidence and success to them.
Culprit was established in the late 1970s and was a front-runner in the introduction of the soft plastic fishing worm. A true American story, company founder Rodney Dann Jr. began by pouring his own soft plastics in a garage. I can recall looking in my dad and grandfather’s tackle boxes in the 1990s and seeing the Culprit Worm in Plum and Red Shad and being attracted from the start. Although I did not contract the bug at a young age, the Culprit logo has stuck in my head all these years.
In January of 2010 I was lucky enough to hear back from Culprit, offering the newly formed Hampden-Sydney College Anglers Club soft plastics at a discounted price and I gladly accepted the gift. Although a small club, I can’t thank Culprit enough for all the ways they have supported me. As I made the move to fishing as a Co-Angler on the BFL Series, I had gotten a decent handle on the great baits Culprit had to offer. In an attempt to accelerate my dreams of competing, I asked if Culprit could help me on an individual level. To my surprise a quick response and sponsorship invitation was presented to me; frantically I printed the invitation, signing my signature to seal the deal. I had accomplished a goal I had dreamed of, having the backing of a national company I could, and still can graciously call my friends.
Having worked with Culprit almost as long as I have been fishing, it is amazing to look at my Culprit soft plastics and see my evolution and the company’s alike. Culprit has come a long way since I was a young boy reaching into the tackle boxes of relatives: the evolution of craws from the Foxy Craw on to the Creature Craw and newly released Incredi Series, the Original Worm to the Ribbon tail on to the T-Rex and Fat Max, and new lines of grubs and trailers. I am proud to have viewed the evolution. Whether just getting into the sport of bass fishing or seeking new sponsors for next year, never forget to show your gratitude for those who support your endeavors. With the addition of the law firm of Cowan Gates and the advertising company Fast Signs, I am steadily learning more and more about sponsor-angler relations. Till next time, pass on the gift of bass fishing to those around you. Your passion is what drives others to make an attempt at new experiences. Who knows, maybe they will catch the bug as well!