Andrew Young wasn’t one of the heavy favorites in the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell last month when he finished in 36th place. That’s OK for Young. He’s already captured one prize he had his sights set on: entry into the Walmart FLW Tour. What do the two have to do with each other? It was Young’s improbable victory at a Bassmaster Central Open on Lake Amistad last year that provided him not only with a spot in the 2015 Classic, but also the start-up money to fish the Tour.
The Open win gave the Minnesota angler the cash to chase his dream, and his retirement in December after 24 years as a sheet metal machinist gave him the time. Young, 44, is giving himself a year to make his mark on the Walmart FLW Tour.
If you look at Young’s track record in the Angler Profiles of FLWFishing.com, there’s not much there. The only FLW tournament he’s fished is the Tour opener on Lake Toho, where he finished 102nd. Prior to that, Young hadn’t fished so much as a Walmart Bass Fishing League event, but that doesn’t mean he lacks talent or savvy. Not counting time spent as a guide on Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka near his hometown of Mound, Young has been around. Because he’s single and has harbored a lifelong fascination for bass fishing, he’s been able to put in more fishing time on some of the more famous tournament lakes than many Tour veterans. Consider his latest jaunt, which amounted to a two-month pre-fishing excursion to some of the lakes on the Tour schedule in 2015: Toho, Eufaula, Smith Lake and Chickamauga.
Like a lot of his competitors, Andy Young spent a good portion of day 1 of the Smith Lake FLW Tour trying to pick off fish that had already move onto their beds to spawn. In practice, he located roughly a dozen fish that he hoped would still be around when the competition got started.
He made them a priority to start, but the plan didn’t result in any big bites.
“I went after schoolers first and didn’t get anything going,” said the Tour rookie from Mound, Minn. “I ran all of my spawning stuff and caught a limit, but nothing decent.”
After spending five hours doing that, he changed gears to a jerkbait pattern around docks that he picked up on in practice. He caught some decent spotted bass toward the end of the day that way and culled his way up to 12-10 after day 1, which put him in 49th place.
“Those spots were suspended under docks in 15 to 70 feet of water,” he said. “I caught some suspended over 100 feet. It was really cool. It didn’t seem to matter how deep the dock was. They just were using them as structure.”