Fishy business

Local man takes first place and $125,000 in event

Local man takes first place and $125,000 in event

February 20, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

BOONSBORO - Aaron Hastings put a new twist on the old fish story over the weekend.

Instead of telling tales about the one that got away, the Boonsboro native can regale listeners with descriptions of the ones he caught.

He even has proof - $125,000 worth of it.

Hastings, 34, reeled in the biggest fishing victory of his professional career Sunday when he won the Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. He defeated a championship field of nine fishermen by nearly two pounds to win the title.

"It was very nice," Hastings said Monday when reached on his cell phone in Louisiana while making the trip home. "This is the most money I've ever won."


While the money was nice for catching 10 bass that weighed 19 pounds, 9 ounces, the way Hastings did it might have been more satisfying. He defeated an international field of fishermen by using ingenuity and imagining he was fishing in Maryland.

"These were the best fishermen in the world," Hastings said. "There were some from Italy and Japan in the tournament. There is no circuit of fisherman higher than this."

With such high competition, everything came down to tactics and a little nerve. Hastings might have gotten his edge from the start, when he assessed Lake Travis before the competition.

"Anytime you are traveling two days to fish in a body of water that you don't know anything about, you automatically look for things that are comfortable and try to use them to your advantage," he said. "When I get into a competition, I allow myself seven days of practice. I got here and I had the flu the first two days. But when I got here, it all set up like Deep Creek Lake. It was clear water and it reminded me of home."

Hastings reached the finals by finishing in the top 10 over two days of competition against a field of 200 fishermen. There still was a trick to reaching the final grouping.

"You don't try to get the most fish, just enough to make the final grouping," Hastings said. "They gave us a target of about 10 pounds a day to reach the finals. I had 11 the first day and 10 the second and finished in ninth place."

Once the finals began, everyone started with zero weight. That's when the Deep Creek Lake experiences kicked in for Hastings.

"I'd like to think it was educated gambling," Hastings said. "A lot of guys were fishing off the docks. I decided to fish the lower contours along the bottom of the lake."

The final round of competition involved two eight-hour days of fishing to produce a harvest of 10 bass for weight. Hastings reeled in five bass weighing 9 pounds, 15 ounces on Saturday to take a two-pound lead after the first day.

"The second day, I had a great day," Hastings said. "I had to hunt around a little for the fish because they moved, but I had to stick to my guns."

Hastings maintained his lead by pulling in five bass weighing 9 pounds, 10 ounces to beat Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. - who with finished with 17 pounds, 15 ounces - for the title.

Hastings' victory came on the first stop of the six-event Wal-Mart FLW Tour season. Hastings will be home for three weeks before heading to Knoxville, Tenn., from March 29 to April 1. His goal is finish in the top 40 in the points standings and earn a berth in the Forrest Wood Cup on Aug. 5 in Hot Springs, Ark., an event that is worth $1 million to the winner.

"I wasn't going to leave anything out on the water," Hastings said. "I was going to be aggressive. You have to be patient, but I was going to do everything I had to to bring it in."

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