Brad Maynard moves up

After starting the year as a Co-angler on the FLW tour, Brad thought it wasn't going to turn out too good.  After the first points standings were announced he sat at 147th.  "Although it was only my second year fishing tournaments, It was a kick in the gut to be sitting that low", Brad said.  After the next tour stop he had only moved up a few places.  But that's when things began to change.  "It took me a few tour events to kind of settle in and get comfortable with everything.  Not only was I knew to tournament fishing I was also not used to fishing out of the back of the boat and all the rules and unspoken courtesies that were expected".  A Co-Angler is assigned to a "Boater" each day of the tournament.  He can't drive the boat or cast past the middle of the boat.  In essence fishing waters that the boater has already fished.  Each day the Co-Angler must adapt and adjust according to where the boater is fishing, what type of cover, etc.

At stop 3 on the tour, Brad learned another good lesson.  "I had two big fish get off on the second day.  If you are just out fishing you think to yourself that hey, I had a couple of big ones on and almost got them in the boat.  But when that happens in one of these tournaments, it costs you big".  Come to find out, those two fish most likely cost Brad thousands of dollars and potential $25,000.  But he was improving.

At stop 4, again Brad ran into troubles from little experience.  "I never have really fished grass before, so I was kind of lost fishing grass on the Potomac River.  It took a lot of adjusting, but more than anything I hadn't known about the use of braided line."  Braided line is not as invisible in the water but has a strength of 5 times normal fishing line.  It also reduces stretch in the line for better hook sets as well as giving more the fisherman a better feel of the bait.  "I had been up late the night before day 2 trying to adjust what I was using the day before.  I was so tired that I didn't spool my line correctly.  So when I hooked the first big fish, the line just wound up in one spot on my spool.  And since it was not braided line, it broke when the fish was right at the boat.  And the next time, nothing was wrong with the spool, but the fish got caught in the grass and broke my line again."  Those two fish cost Brad thousands of dollars again along with costing him about 70 spots in where he placed for the tourney.  But non the less he moved up the points once again.

At Kentucky lake, things were starting to make sense a lot more to Brad.  Although he broke off a few more fish that would have helped him, he collected his first winnings of the year.  "I was leaving the weigh in to drive back home with the family.  I thought to myself, I better just double check the standings.  Sure enough, I had finished high enough to get paid.  So we turned around and went back."  

At the final event of the year in upstate New York, Brad had actually pre fished the tournament for the first time with one of the top anglers in the world, Randal Tharpe.  "We fished shallow water grass in the lower part of lake Champlain in dingy water and I learned a lot.  I was ready to catch them good on day one."  His day one partner informed him that they would not be fishing grass but would be fishing deep rocks in clear water.  Brad struggled to figure it out but managed to do well.  On day 2 he once again was assigned a boater who was fishing the same thing.  This time, the wind was blowing 20 or 30 miles an hour with 6-8 foot swells.  "It was so rough that we were on our knees fishing to keep from falling in.  The boater I was with got sea sick.  By 9am I had already caught a limit of 5 small mouth close to 12 pounds and thought I was going to really blow it out.  But the boater had caught nothing and was getting sicker.  So we left a spot where each time we drifter over it I would catch a fish.  We went to where it was calm, and there weren't many fish there to catch."  Brad still finished high but was left to wonder what if.

"I hadn't wanted to look at the final standings.  I knew there were about 350 fishermen and I didn't want to be down at the bottom.  But I couldn't help it.  I was amazed at what I saw".  Brad found that he had moved up 75 places in only 4 tournaments.  One of, if not the biggest jump of any angler on the tour that year.  "I never gave up, although I wanted to many times.  But even though my start pretty much eliminated me from a high standing I decided to keep at it, and I'm glad I did.  I learned more than I could ever had imagined and met a lot of great people and pro anglers."  In fact, had Brad averaged in the first two tournaments what he did in the last 4, he would have made it to the Forrest Wood Cup, the tour championship and largest BASS fishing event in the world.  "Next year will be different.  No more slow starts.  I've got all the jitters out now and know what to expect".  From the way he finished, it looks like that prediction is pretty accurate.