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Joe to Pro: Brent Ehrler - Page 3 | Print |  Email
Written by Paul Strege   
Sunday, 24 April 2011 21:00
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Joe to Pro: Brent Ehrler
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Sophomore Success
After reflecting upon his past successes and failures, Brent made a conscientious effort to change his approach to fishing large, unfamiliar water for the subsequent season. The key, as he believed, lied within focusing on smaller sections.

“My first year, I would run all the way one direction and back the other direction a little while later, trying to cover as much water as possible. Instead of doing that, I tried to concentrate my time in smaller areas, closer together, that were easily fishable within a tournament day. What I tried to do was make a bigger lake a smaller lake.”

By season’s end in 2006, Brent had all but forgotten his disappointing rookie campaign. He finished the year in 40th place and qualified for his first FLW Championship. At Logan Martin Lake, Ehrler meticulously worked boat docks to entice summertime bass into biting. As the tournament unfolded, he improved upon each previous day’s catch. The unique 48-angler, bracket-style championship format paired him against Clifford Perch the first two days and Ramie Colson, Jr. on the third.

“After the second day, I remember thinking that I might be able to catch enough fish to advance on to the Top-12. I never thought I could win the tournament. I was thinking, ‘If I make the cut here and get some TV time, this is going to be really cool!’ Then, I went out and caught them good the third day. I remember saying to myself, ‘Man, this is just soooo cool!’ I didn’t really think that I had the fish to win – I just kind of thought that I had a chance to finish high.”

The momentum he gained by improving each day provided him with self-confidence entering the Top-12 fish-off. After recording a catch of 15 pounds, 1 ounce, Ehrler topped a virtual angling All-Star team consisting of: Clark Wendlandt, Jay Yelas, David Dudley, Anthony Gagliardi, and George Cochran.

Despite the immense joy and great sense of accomplishment, Brent questioned the timing of his surreal triumph.

“I asked, ‘Why did this happen now?’ By winning the Forrest Wood Cup my second year in, I felt like I had peaked. I was looking at a lot of the guys that had been out there 20-plus years and never won, feeling guilty. What was I going to look forward to after that? How could I top it? It shouldn’t have happened then. I just kind of felt like it was early on in my career, at a time when fishing still really wasn’t a career. Fishing was something I wanted to do, but not what I would consider my calling in life. I was doing it for fun and to make a little money. Things just happened so fast and I didn’t really know how to react.”

“Do it as a hobby.”
Brent’s approach of maintaining a career outside of fishing while in pursuit of success on tour alleviated much of the financial angst that many of his peers experienced in the infancy of their newfound professions. In all likelihood, that perspective played an important role in securing his FLW Tour Championship. Without significant financial burden, he focused solely on the fishing. Ironically, the “discouragement” he received from several respected western pros heavily influenced his chosen career path.

“People told me from the start, ‘Don’t do it as a job. Do it as a hobby.’ They actually discouraged me from considering fishing a serious career. It really was timely advice because it gave me a whole different outlook. If I had jumped into the sport headfirst, I would have gone into debt and never been able to get out. There were a lot of people that I knew that would spend a pile of money in a short time, trying to make their career happen. Then, they would disappear and you would never see or hear from them again.”

As his passionate hobby has since evolved into a very successful and lucrative career, Brent explains that the enjoyment he receives from fishing on tour is not without a cost.

“There is a lot of stress, and it is something at my age that can’t be healthy for me. You sit in your motel room at night, telling yourself that you are not catching them good enough, or you have to cash a check, or you have to please your sponsors... It is tough to experience that day-in and day-out. That is the part that I could do without. If there is something I can change about that someday, I will consider it. But for now, I love to tournament fish and I intend to do that for as long as I can.”

The National Guard Fishing Team
Despite the frequent worry, Brent notes that he has been blessed with many great opportunities from the sport that he loves. One of those arose in 2008, when he signed onto the National Guard Fishing Team.

“By the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup, I had become good friends with Sergeant O’ Laughlin who worked with the National Guard Fishing Team. I spoke with him quite a bit about joining the team after the championship that year, but I really wanted to stick with Lucky Craft as my title sponsor because they were the ones that helped me get to where I was at. I know that really struck a chord with him. Sergeant O’ Laughlin said that sticking with them was a true testament of my character. He really took a liking to it.”

With Lucky Craft’s concurrence, Brent became a member of the National Guard Fishing Team the next season, and has since learned that his affiliation means more than driving a decked-out, Stars-and-Stripes – dressed boat.

“I honestly could not think of another team to be on. The National Guard is such a great organization. I am humbled to be a part of it and representing all the men and women that are out there defending our country abroad and making life better for us back here. It really puts life into perspective for me.”

While Brent loves fishing as much as the next professional, he notes that his appreciation for the sport has matured to include the liberties that he is granted – ones defended by the servicemen and women of the National Guard. He continually strives to share that perspective with his fans, both young and old. And, somewhere across the country, there likely sits another young boy, flipping through the pages of a fishing magazine with a parent – from the same perspective that Brent once did.

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 April 2011 21:15

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