Shawnee Dispatch

Local pro approaching $1 million

August 16, 2006

Special to the Dispatch

It might seem that million-dollar paydays are reserved for athletes in high profile sports such as baseball or football. But local professional Bass fisherman Brent Chapman has proven otherwise. During his days as a pro, Champman has won a handful of events and is approaching the million-dollar total in career earnings.

Chapman began bass fishing at an early age. In junior high school he joined a local club with his father and from there his hobby turned into a passion. With grit and perseverance he now boasts some significant progress from his early struggles trying to crack into the pro ranks.

He has fished in more than 120 contests and has been in the top 10 on 17 occasions. In addition, he has finished second three times and won the 2000 Louisiana Invitational, the 2005 Cabelas Top Gun Championship on Eagle Mountain Lake, in Texas, and the 2005 Busch Shootout on Table Rock Lake, near Springfield, Mo. During his time, he has seen some of the best fishing waters in the country.

Believe it or not, bass fishing is the second fastest growing sport behind NASCAR. There are bass clubs in every state and popularity is growing rapidly. Amateur tournaments are common on Kansas lakes, with winners rewarded money and merchandise as prizes. There are approximately 40 bass clubs in the Kansas B.A.S.S. (Bass Angler Sportsmans Society) Federation alone.

There are several organizations that host professional fishing tournaments and all have lucrative payouts. Money draws crowds and in this case it means fans and hopeful participants. While becoming a pro can pay off, it can also break your piggy bank. It costs an average professional about $50,000 in expenses, just to participate.

Like most competitive venues, sponsors play a major role with product endorsement contracts and promotional muscle. In addition to backing by the usual fishing equipment manufacturers, like lures, fishing line, rods and reels, Chapman's new Triton boat is sponsored by a non-fishing product, GE Silicone Caulk II. Of course, a sparkling new Chevy Suburban tows his new rig across the country to the various lakes.

Even though this seems to be exciting and glamorous, the grueling travel schedule and physical demands can be overwhelming. Fishing goes on in even the most inclement weather and sometimes the fishing results are pitiful. Chapman attributes his success to his confidence and says that he is good at about anything outdoors, from hunting to snow skiing. He claims his strengths are his instincts, versatility and ability to adapt to changing conditions.

When asked about a tip for local fisherman, he says, "Be versatile and follow your intuition." His favorite fishing technique is flipping or pitching jigs, but he also likes to fish crank baits in shallower waters. His favorite place to fish is Lake Amistad, in South Texas. This Rio Grande impoundment of 67,000 acres has recovered in recent years from low level and is now one of the premier bass fisheries in the world.

Brent grew up in Shawnee and likes living in the area with his wife Bobbi and two young children. He graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School. His family goes with him on his fishing tournaments for weeks at a time. And although the competition is intense and the pace hectic, Chapman finds the fortitude to win.

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