BassWestUSA - January/February, 2011, Page 17

“I started off doing well against the adults, beating them when I was just 12 or 13 years old. I really ate it up.”

YEAR CHAMPIONSHIP » SENIOR Shortly after becoming a club member, Luke started saving

money in order to purchase a truck and boat. His father negotiated a deal with Luke that would subsidize half of the rig’s cost if he raised the other half needed for the purchase. “From that point, I started working several jobs. I’d pull trap and skeet at a gun club on the weekends, work construction for my uncle, and do all kinds of other jobs to save as much money as I could. I even worked at a dog kennel, training dogs and scooping poop!” Luke would reap the fruit of his labor shortly after his six- teenth birthday. His rst purchase was an old diesel 1984 Chevy Silverado and 15-foot Nitro boat with a 60-horsepower engine. “I was in heaven. I shed every day, either before or after school, when I wasn’t working to earn gas money for my boat.” Not long after purchasing his boat, Luke and his best friend from high school, Mark, started competing in the local Ameri- can Bass Angler (ABA) team tournament circuit. They routinely shocked veteran duos by winning or placing high at most events. Luke’s rst big payday would occur even before receiving his high school diploma – at the ABA Regional Championship on Banks Lake in eastern Washington. “I was fortunate enough to win a new 18-foot Champion my senior year. I had to borrow my dad’s Skeeter for the tournament because the bottom of my Nitro was about to fall out. Winning that boat was a lot of money. It was really a turning point for me because I came to the realization that I could make some good money shing. From that point on, I knew what I really wanted to do for a living.” After winning, Luke sold his half of the boat to Mark, and then purchased a Ranger 518. A couple months later, he enrolled in college at Eastern Washington University.

Luke’s passion for shing soon spilled over to his college coursework. Originally intending to study sheries biology, he refo- cused his efforts towards obtaining a degree in business manage- ment and marketing. “After gaining more experience and talking with other tourna- ment anglers, I realized that marketing skills were going to be a

CROSSROADS » COLLEGIATE “The rst year of college was the hardest because I had class-

es during the day that cut into my shing time. After that, I regis- tered for only night classes so that I could sh every day.” Luke continued to ourish in team tournament competition as a college student, adding more prize boats to his growing col- lection. He also started venturing into California, expanding his schedule to include larger regional tournaments such as B.A.S.S. Invitationals / Opens, WON BASS, and other Pro-Am events. “I would drive down for a week at a time. I had to catch-up with school before I left to make it work.”

Clausen

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January/February 2011

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