John's Journal... Entry 43, Day 5
The Tournament Lifestyle Of A Professional Angler
EDITOR'S NOTE: Twenty-seven-year-old Tim Horton of Spruce Pine, Alabama, has earned the title of 1999-2000 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year. He accumulated more tournament points than any other angler and won more than $200,000 in tournaments and sponsorship.
As a young man sitting in the crowds at past BASS Masters Classics, young Tim Horton saw thousands applaud as the nation's best fishermen brought in their catches. He dreamt a great dream of one day fishing in the Classic and standing before those folks.
Horton had his eyes full of stars and a head filled with dreams of fame and glory. Horton, who grew up near the Tennessee River's fine fishing in north Alabama clost to the Tennessee and Mississippi borders, went to college, kept hold of his dream and after college fulfilled his dream by becoming a fishing guide.
Like the rest of the world's most well-known bass anglers, Horton had to fight his way up from obscurity. When Horton went to his first professional bass tournament during the 1999-2000 season, few of the nation's leading pro fishermen even acknowledged his presence.
"They weren't being rude," Horton said. "If you don't know somebody, you usually don't associate with them. Shaw Grigsby from Gainesville, Florida, was the only one I'd met."
Once Horton started placing in the money in those first tournaments, many of the nation's leading pros began encouraging him. Midway through the 1999- 2000 professional bass-fishing season, Horton won $100,000 in a Potomac River tournament.
With that win, he proved he could compete with the best bass fishermen in the nation and even beat them on some days. "With that win, I became the leader in the race for the title of B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year," Horton explained. "The other pros made suggestions and offered their help to me. Each man competes as hard as he can to win when he's on the water, but when the contestants come off the water, we're like family."
Horton's family has supported his quest for a professional fishing career, even if they haven't fully understood it. They have had to wonder why a 27-year-old young man with a college education aspires to become a professional basser and gamble his future and the future of his family in the topsy-turvy world of professional fishing.
Horton has enjoyed getting to know anglers like Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn, Mark Davis, Larry Nixon and Shaw Grigsby. Sponsors also have started talking to Horton about giving seminars and representing their companies. Besides ProCraft boats, Mercury Motors and PRADCO (a subsidiary of Birmingham's EBSCO) as his sponsors, Horton also works with TTI of Wetumpka, the makers of Daiichi and Xpointe hooks. Too, Long Lewis Ford of the Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, has sponsored Horton's Fishing for Kids Program he's created that enables him to take handicapped and underprivileged kids fishing.
"I hope I've got one great tournament left," Horton said. "I plan to have a good time at the Classic. I'm finally realizing my dream by just getting to go to that tournament."
Every bass fisherman who competes in tournaments on the weekends dreams of one day making that trip that Horton just has completed: going from nowhere and nothing to making big bucks in fishing.
Check back each day this week for more about Tim Horton ...
Day 1 -Tim Horton's Leap
From Fishing Nobody To King Of The Fishing World