After years of hard work and determination, Christopher Adams had an opportunity last week to get closer to his goal of becoming a professional bass fisherman. Adams, a 22-year-old sophomore at Castleton State College, qualified to compete on the 12-man Vermont Bass Federation State Team by defeating hundreds of other fishermen in the state. The team was formed to represent Vermont in the annual B.A.S.S. Eastern Regional tournament on Lake Champlain last week.
Since the tournament and his classes created a conflict, Adams made an important decision to sacrifice a week of school to compete on the Vermont state team.
“It really was a no-brainer for me to choose to compete in the regional,” Adams said confidently. “This is an once-in-a-lifetime deal and I did not want to miss out on an opportunity to make connections within the sport.”
To pave the way for his absence, Chris sent an email to his professors, letting them know about his decision to miss one week of classes.
“My professors were really supportive of me,” he said. “They knew this was something I had to do.”
Like Father, Like Son
Adams learned the sport of bass fishing from his father, Don, who has been an avid fisherman for more than 20 years.
Fishing with his father since an early age helped him gradually improve, Adams said.
He started competitive fishing tournaments at the age of 13 and has been successful at both the state and regional levels.
“Once I began to compete in bass fishing tournaments and realized my potential in the sport, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” he said.
Don Adams said he was very impressed by the early development of his son’s fishing skills.
“Chris has a natural talent. It took me ten years to have a complete understanding of the sport, while he only needed three years,” Don said. “He has this ability to achieve to the maximum degree, and I believe that he will be better than me very soon.”
Throughout the summer, Chris fished twice a week on Lake Champlain, scouting out areas in preparation for the Eastern Regional tournament.
“I am very confident when fishing at my home lake,” he said with a smile. “It’s important to have great knowledge of the lake you’re fishing on, and I hope to use that to my advantage.”
The Big Week
Both Chris and his father Don competed on the Vermont state team at the Eastern Regional tournament last week.
“The fact that we both made the team was very special for me,” Don said. “It made me proud that Chris was one of the 12 men on the team because he is the youngest competitor in the tournament.”
The tournament consisted of both an individual and team competition. The winning state team receives $10,000 toward the state’s respective organization, and the top fishermen of the tournament from each state advance to January’s National Championship.
The three-day practice period started on Sunday, allowing competitors to get ready before the tournament began on Wednesday. Chris seemed to have no luck catching fish on the first day of competition, but he kept his cool and finished with a three day total of 17 pounds from the eight fish he caught.
Chris placed in 85th out of the 95 fishermen in the tournament, and is slated to compete for the Vermont State team in next year’s Eastern regional. Don Adams finished in 79th place with a three day total of 21 pounds of fish.
The Vermont team, however, finished the tournament in fourth place overall, and were behind first-place Massachusetts by 34 pounds of fish.
What Lies Ahead
In a sport that is usually dominated by males over the age of 30, Chris Adams is trying to break through at a young age.
“Catching the eye of sponsors is very important in this sport,” he said. “I plan to pursue a career in the fishing industry in some form after college, and being noticed by the major companies is beneficial down the road.”
While Chris is making his mark in competitive bass fishing, he will also be trying out for the Castleton State hockey team.
“One of my main goals is to represent Castleton State College and the men’s ice hockey team to the best of my ability,” he said.
Adams is currently undecided about his major, but he takes mostly communications and sports administration classes. He said he hopes to gain knowledge about both fields, which he said can help him break into the bass fishing business.
“It could be writing for a fishing magazine, working for a fishing equipment company in marketing or sales, or simply competing as a professional fisherman and trying to represent any sponsorship companies I may receive to the best of my ability.