Hello everybody, and welcome to Dig IN Fishing Fridays.
I’m excited today. Today we have Derek Hudnall here.
Derek is a Bass Masters league lead angler from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Derek is 38 years old, and was born and raised in Baton Rouge. His wife Anya, daughter Payton, who’s cadiahoangtuan.com three, and Braxton who’s 15.
He actually grew up in a fishing family, and he’s been fishing competitively in Louisiana since he was 16 years old. His first Bass Master Open was in 2016 and that’s when Derek started fishing full time. He has fished all the divisions of the Bass Master Open’s every year to increase his versatility, and his chances to qualify for the Bass Master Elite Series. He finished third overall in 2018, which qualified him for the 2019 Elite Series, and the 2019 Bass Master Classic. Welcome Derek.
Glad to be here.
So, Derek what are you up to today?
Man, I just got off the road. I left Baton Rouge, Louisiana about 5:00 A.M. Central time this morning and then I just arrived in Anderson, South Carolina at Lake Hartwell, which is our next Elite Series event in April, so I’m here to look around to… To look around this place just before our cut off, to get familiar with it before we start practice here in April. And also I’ll be heading from here to Knoxville, to start practice for the Bass Master Classic.
Gotcha. So, you started fishing at the age of 16 full time, but can you kind of talk to us about, how did you actually get started fishing?
Well, I grew up in a fishing family as you introduced. My dad was very famous in Louisiana, he was one of the most successful tournament anglers in Louisiana. And so I kind of grew up underneath that. So, I was in a boat, from the time I was able to walk. I started fishing, of course, in tournaments with my dad when I was young, and then at that age 16 I… That’s normally the age limit you can start fishing as an amateur, as a co angler in some FLWBFL’s and stuff like that, and it just kind of blossomed from there. So, I was kind of destined to have a rod and reel in my hand at some point in my adult life, one way or another. But, man, I just took it and ran with it, but I was fortunate enough to be raised in a house where it was a part of the everyday life. It was part of our soul, it was part of our dinner and breakfast and lunch every day, and so I was fortunate enough to do that, and I was fortunate enough to have a really good teacher as well.
Well, it sounds to me like you started fishing competitively. One, it’s in your genes. Two, it’s in your family, but are you competitive in any other sports other than fishing?
You know, not… You know, not as of right now, but of course I did the baseball and football thing, and my 15 year old son Braxton is really big into baseball. So, I… The competitive mind set is definitely in the genes, and hey why not fish competitively? And get paid to do it.
Yeah, man. So, let’s talk about your competitive fishing. What’s the biggest problem you have found in competing at the level that you’re at?
You know, I guess the biggest… I wouldn’t even call it a problem, but, you know, as with most competitive people in general, it’s dealing with you can’t win them all. It has… You just can’t win them all, and I’m very hard on myself, just like any competitive person, and it’s just the fact that you can’t win them all. Because typically we aren’t happy unless we win, just like anything else. But I guess if you found the biggest problem, I guess overall, would be the tribal. With the Bass Master Elite Series, it’s… We don’t get many days off, we don’t get very long periods of time at home. Being away from my biggest support staff and my family is tough, but they do get to tribal, they came to the first Elite Series Tournament in Palatka, Florida. Of course, they’ll be there in Groves and Knoxville, Tennessee. I think my families booked half of downtown Knoxville for that thing. But that’s probably the toughest part, is being away from the family.
Right. And not only the fishing in the tournaments and the practice, but do you have a lot of sponsor commitments?
I do, I do. And actually, man, I’ve gained a pretty good social media following. I do a series of Facebook lives called Build Your Brand. Where I help up and coming and young anglers build the business side of their brand. And the reason I said that is because, my number one rule is to never call them sponsors, is to call them partners. And so, yes, I have a very, very good partnership team with a lot of commitments there. I have to work shows, and I have to do interviews, and so yes. And actually a couple of my biggest partners are one, is I’m so fortunate to be able to represent my state, in the state of Louisiana. If you go there, if anybody sees me on social media, or down the road, or at a tournament, you’ll see Louisiana Feeds Your Soul all over my boat and truck.
And I get the privilege of going out and representing the great state that I live in and it’s more than… I had to call them commitments, because it’s more of just the part of who I am and I part of who I do. Or a part of who I am and a part of what I do. And it’s just a part of trying to be the best ambassador for the brand that I can be.
Nice, fantastic. So, you’ve been doing this a long time. What have you learned that’s helped you succeed at such a high level?
Well, it’s kind of unlike baseball and I’m very involved with a lot of the youth fishing organizations and I tell them the same thing. This is a sport where… Let’s just take baseball for instance. You can’t teach somebody to hit a 95 mile an hour fast ball. That’s just not something that can be taught, necessarily. It’s something that you have to have. It’s something… Hand, eye coordination, it’s just something that kind of has to be in your DNA. Where fishing doesn’t necessarily work that way.