High Hopes for a Bassing Career

High Hopes for a Bassing Career

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
The Fishing Wire

Cole Drummond has high hopes for a bassing career.

He looks at Van Dam, at Wheeler, at Martin, at the Brothers Lee. And he sees himself a few years down the road.

It’s not an easy or a straight road.

Drummond, a South Carolina kid who started fishing with his dad Steve when he was just big enough to click the button on a Zebco spincaster, is 19 now–still a kid to some, but he’s starting to chink away at building a reputation in pro bass fishing.

He’s not only done very well in the booming high-school bass tournament scene, making the championship fishoff at Kentucky Lake as a junior, he’s also had some success in fishing open tournaments against guys two or three times his age–he’s banked $14 grand in a couple years.

But he’s come up against a hard truth that soon faces most with pro fishing dreams.

It costs a WHOLE lot of money to fish any of the circuits. Tens of thousands in travel costs, to say nothing of the entry fees and supporting a tournament grade bass boat and a truck to tow it.

“I’d like to see him get where he bankrolls himself,” says dad Steve, who’s a successful taxidermist. “Quick.”

They’re here at the FLW ICAST Cup, the kickoff for ICAST 2019, at Big Toho Marina on Lake Tohopekaliga, and I am their designated media type. Some 60 boats run by an assortment of seasoned and well-known pro anglers from FLW as well as some who hope soon to be known, like Cole, have volunteered to get us out on the lake for a taste of fishing before the doors of the big show open.

Cole is a clean-cut, tattoo-free, polite kid who just loves to fish. He’ll never be Mike Iaconelli–but you could see him being Jordan Lee someday.

One possible speed bump in the road ahead: collegiate fishing. Much as college football is a sort of farm system for the NFL, college fishing circuits, growing even faster than the high-school competitions, have become sort of the de facto road to the pro’s for many younger anglers who might otherwise have to wait years for sponsor support, all the while pouring money into the game.

Cole is not going to college. He’s not much for studying in the classroom. It interferes with his fishing time.

The question is, will a degree become an expected prerequisite for sponsors–who pay many of the bills for the more successful pro’s? Cole and his dad are hoping not.

“I know it’s about helping them sell product and getting their name out there,” says Cole. He’s no stranger to it. He helps his dad film a local outdoors television show, and sometime appears on camera.

He’s a good angler, no doubt about it. He puts four bass in the boat while his dad and I manage only a couple between us. He’s working up his social media profile, reaching out to pro’s already on the circuits for advice. But . . . .

Pro fishing has been the wreck of a whole lot of dreams, for sure. But Cole Drummond is hopeful–he’s been able to set up a couple meetings with some of the major companies in the industry during the visit to Orlando . . . maybe, just maybe . . . .