BassWestUSA - January/February, 2011, Page 19

ally enjoyed being around them. The following year, I gured if I was going to travel, I might as well sh FLW and B.A.S.S. and try to make some more money. I had made quite a bit of money the year before shing B.A.S.S., but I spent a lot, too. It was going to be a make-or-break season for me.”

HOISTING THE FORREST » WOOD CUP

While Luke quali ed for both the FLW Championship and Bassmaster Classic in 2004, the two-tour season did not result in the nancial windfall that he had hoped for. He quali ed for the Classic through the Western Opens, not through the tour. On the FLW side he only placed in the Top-20 one time. Luke’s approach to the FLW Championship on Lake Logan Martin, Alabama did not differ from that of his regular season tour events. He intentionally avoided extensive lake research in order to approach the venue without predetermination. “I could have made more time for research, but I really do better on lakes that I don’t know much about and ones that I’ve never been to. I do better because I keep more of an open mind and just go shing.” Settled into his typical routine, Luke discovered a highly pro- ductive nesse worm / dock pattern, but he still did not know what weight would be required to advance in the head-to-head, bracket-style format. Luke easily advanced past each competitor the rst three days. Even when the eld was trimmed to the Top-10 and previous days’ weights were reset, he topped Scott Martin by 7 ounces to claim the FLW Championship title. “Fortunately, I was on a pattern a lot stronger than I knew, and ended up having the heaviest stringer each day. It felt like it was meant-to-be because everything worked out as well as it did. In hindsight, it was just kind of raw and natural shing, I guess. You really don’t recognize those situations when they happen until you’ve been doing it a while.” The FLW Championship awarded a cash prize of $500,000 and helped secure Luke’s professional angling future. It was his rst tour-level victory, regular season or championship, of his ca- reer. Despite the triumph, he still remained a relatively unknown personality on tour. The career path that Luke followed from the beginning was originally blazed with self-described baby steps. Every progression along his journey has

been deliberate and inten- tional, without ever shing above his nancial means at any given stage. The result is a resume lled with money nishes and two professional wins but with little main- stream media acclaim. “This is a busi- ness for me. There are de nitely times that I will lay-up and make sure I am go- ing to make some money. If I know I can go somewhere and catch some two pounders on a shaky head so that I can be as- sured of mak- ing a check, then I am go- ing to do it. That is why I am here – to make money, to make a living. I want to have titles and win events

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