Lake Oconee Breeze

Outdoors

May 31, 2012

College angler setting his sights higher

LAKE OCONEE — Since an early age, Matt Henry has pursued his dream of competing in professional tournament fishing. Henry is originally from Conyers but now lives in Milledgeville and attends Georgia College & State University where he is majoring in Environmental Science.

Twenty-five year old Henry has been competing in fishing tournaments since 1999 when he began participating in the Junior Bassbusters Club in Conyers. Competing in that fishing club allowed Henry to qualify and compete in two National Junior Bassmaster Classic tournaments.

Henry was the Georgia Junior State Champion for two years and won the Angler of the Year award in the National Junior Bassmasters competition in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Henry still works with the Junior Bassbusters Club in Conyers and takes kids fishing to teach them the techniques of bass fishing. He also started a fishing team at Georgia College & State University and the club has competed in numerous bass fishing tournaments at the college level. That team recently was named the sixth best college fishing team in the nation.

As Henry nears his college graduation, he has begun to set his sights on a professional career in bass fishing. That includes competing in in the FLW Everstart Tournament Trail and the B.A.S.S. Southern Open in 2013.

To achieve his dream to compete in those national trails, Henry realizes that more than angling skills are required to be successful as a professional angler. He has been taking marketing classes at college to prepare him for the business side of professional bass fishing.

“I know the business side of professional fishing is very important to becoming a successful tournament angler,” said Henry. “The more I can learn about the fishing from a business standpoint, the more that will help me in obtaining sponsors and then representing those sponsors.”

Henry has already lined up several sponsors including Anglers Warehouse, Big Bear Fishing Rods, JJs Magic and Buckeye Lures. After recently talking with Henry, I feel confident that more sponsors will soon be lining up behind this young man and his outstanding angling skills.

Henry has been fishing the FLW Bulldog Tournament Trail for several years and was third overall in points in 2010. He won a FLW Super Tournament on Lake Oconee in 2010 and the 2011 BFL tournament on Lake Oconee.

This year, he has been competing in the Berry’s Tournament Trail that holds tournaments on Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee. He and his partner Justin Kimmel from Athens won the year ending Berry’s tournament at Lake Oconee on May 19 at Lake Oconee.

With their win at Lake Oconee, the pair of anglers won the Angler of the Year Award for the Berry’s Tournament Trail and that carried a prize of $4960. At the May 19 Lake Oconee tournament they caught 20.11 pounds to win the first place prize of $3200. In addition, Henry caught the biggest bass of the tournament and won an additional $1000. Total winnings for that one day of fishing for Henry and Kimmel amounted to a whopping $9160.

“We won the Lake Oconee tournament fishing topwater lures and crankbaits and those are my two favorite angling techniques,” said Henry. His angling skills will again be tested this weekend as the Berry’s Tournament Trail will hold a two-day classic.

On Saturday, June 2 the anglers in the classic will fish Lake Oconee out of Sugar Creek Marina. Then on Sunday, June 3 the anglers will fish Lake Sinclair out of Little River Park. A first place prize of $10,000 awaits the pair of anglers who have the highest combined weight for the two days of competition.

Come see Henry and all the anglers as their fish are weighed both days beginning at 3:00 p.m. and be at Little River Park on Sunday afternoon to see which team will go home having won $10,000.  Good fishing and see you next week

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