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Joe to Pro: Brent Ehrler | Print |  Email
Written by Paul Strege   
Sunday, 24 April 2011 21:00
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Every angler has a story… When Lorraine Ehrler started to read from the pages of a bass fishing magazine to her 6 year-old son, she had no idea of the future implications. The Ehrler family was traveling in their motor home to Lake Havasu, Arizona, when young Brent handed his mom the magazine and made the request. By the end of the trip, he had learned how to Texas-rig a plastic worm. Upon arriving at the lake, he raced down to the marina dock to drop his proud creation into the water. He watched in awe as a largemouth bass quickly swam over and engulfed the lure. It was the first bass of his life – and the prologue to an amazing career.

Tauber’s Tutelage
Six years later, Brent registered for the Bassmaster University course given to him as a birthday gift from his parents. The seminar presenters, Jimmy Houston, Don Iovino, and Rich Tabuer, discussed fishing patterns and specific techniques to catch bass in a wide range of situations. The following year, Brent and his father booked a guide trip with Rich Tauber on Lake Castaic. Although he failed to catch a bass during the outing, he absorbed everything shared by Rich throughout the day. The boat, the electric trolling motor, the species-specific lures – all the nuances of professional bass fishing – made an everlasting impression. He immediately fell in love with the sport. Brent’s father recognized his son’s keen interest in bass fishing and nurtured it by hiring Rich for additional outings.

Brent recalls, “We hired Rich for two more trips after that. He was such a nice guy, and I really looked up to him. I could call and ask him questions about lures and other things, and he always had the time to talk fishing with me.”

Rich also encouraged Brent to join his club, the Point Seekers Bass Club of Riverside, California. But at the age of fifteen, he was too young to participate in formal club activities and could not join.

“That was about the time when other things got in the way: girls, school, and just being a teenager. So, I didn’t really consider joining again until I was in college.”

Upon graduating from Loma Linda Academy, Brent enrolled in La Sierra University and finally became an official Point Seekers member. For his first club season, Brent fished from the back deck of other members’ boats. By the following year, he enjoyed organized bass fishing so much that he desperately wanted to purchase a boat of his own. Brent, however, lacked the savings.

“I was very fortunate in that my parents set aside money for me and my brother to help pay for college. They started the fund shortly after we were born. I think my dad realized that I wasn’t going to be a doctor or anything like that, so he used some of it to help me buy a boat.”

Brent bought his first boat, a used Champion, in 1998. The purchase enabled him to compete as a boater in club tourneys. That year, he also decided to enter the WON Bass Pro-Am circuit as an amateur (AAA). Fishing two levels of tournaments allowed Brent to gain invaluable experience at an accelerated pace. He was essentially living the life of a semi-professional angler.

After just two seasons at the AAA level, Brent qualified for and won the 1999 WON Bass Classic. His victory on Lake Cachuma awarded him with a top prize of a fully-rigged Ranger bass boat.

“Back then, a couple of the local pros like Pat Donohoe, Dave Greibe, and Greg Heinz were winning boats, but that was just a crazy dream for me. I remember thinking, ‘I’d love to win a boat someday. That would be awesome.’ And, it happened! It was just amazing to win a tournament, with or without a boat. I was borrowing money from my brother so I could get into these tournaments to fish, and then I won a boat!”

After winning, Brent elected to keep his Champion and sell his new Ranger. With the money he earned from the sale, he paid for basic living expenses and saved the rest for future tournament entry fees. Even after notching his first high-profile victory, the thought of turning professional had yet to become a serious consideration.

“Probably in the back of my mind, I wanted to turn Pro, but I was realistic about it. I wasn’t expecting to make a living or support a family through fishing tournaments. It was something that I was going to do as a hobby – really, an excuse for me to fish a lot. I just wanted to cover my expenses and make a little bit on top of that.”

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 April 2011 21:15

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