Joes and Pros Fishing

Waters goes ‘Mano-a-Mano’ with a world BASS champion

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KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - Keystone Heights’ realtor Branden Waters got a phone call last week that a pretty good fisherman was going to be nearby and asked if he would be interested in a day or two on the water with the celebrity.

“Brent Chapman, a professional bass tournament fisherman out of Kansas, used to have this show called Joes and Pro where he goes to a local fishing hole and challenges the local fishing guy,” said Waters, 31. “The deal was that he had another guy that he challenged, but that didn’t work out and his media guy is a friend of mine. He called and asked if I would be interest. Yeah, sure.”

First, some perspective.

“It may not have been quite like throwing passes with a Tom Brady, but it would be close,” said Waters.

Chapman is only the 2012 Bassmasaters Elite Series Angler of the Year, a Top 30 B.A.S.S. money winner with earnings near $2.1 million with four wins and 40 top 10 finishes.

“Yeah, he’s a pretty good fisherman,” said Waters. “I figured I would at least be able to learn something from him for the two days we would be fishing.”

Waters noted that Chapman was in Hawthorne and getting ready for a major tournament in Kissimmee when the invite came about. The Major League tour is scheduled for Kissimmee with the 2020 Toyota Heavy Hitters presented by Venmo tournament set for June 7-12. Chapman, 47, from Lake Quivira, KS, is currently second in the 2020 Bass Pro Tour standings with 209 points just behind leader Ott DeFoe’s 227.

“He is part of the Major League Fishing pro tour and they were next up in Kissimmee,” said Waters. “He wanted to see what summertime fishing in Florida was all about.”

Waters considered his invite as purely random.

“I’m definitely not the Keystone Heights fishing guru as there are bunch of older guys around here that can fish crazy good,” said Waters. “I just got the lucky phone call.”

The Pros and Joes fishing challenge is pretty simple, said Waters.

“I get first cast and we just fish and whoever has biggest fish, most fish is the challenge,” said Waters. “I was excited, but knew he was going to show me some tricks.”

Waters, who has vast tournament experience on his own, carried his six fishing rods, a box of tackle and some crossed fingers as he met Chapman and his tournament fishing boat.

“The thing about his fishing and my fishing is called presentation,” said Waters. “I know the bodies of water around here, but technique is what makes the pro fisherman so good. They know how to work their presention; how the bait hits the water so the fish thinks it’s worth getting.”

On the day, Waters took Chapman to Sampson lake in Starke and anticipated the competition until Chapman socked a bass within the first five minutes.

“Within 10 minutes, he catches a five pounder,” said Waters, noting Chapman cast out with a Whopper Popper lure; one that skips that water and makes noise. “I’m thinking it’s going to be a long day for me.”

With the wind kicking up, Waters pulled the home court advantage card and took Chapman to an “undisclosed” spot that he knew to be chock full of big fish.

“I can’t say where, but I know it’s full of fish,” said Waters. “If I disclosed it, people would come from all over to fish there. A 14-pounder was caught there not long ago.”

On the “undisclosed” lake, Waters, who had not caught a fish yet and watched Chapman bag a four pounder again with 10 minutes, responded not with a Whopper Popper, but with a different lure.

“The second one he caught with a Top Water Walking Bait lure,” said Waters, explaining the Top Water Talking Bait Lure walks along the water back and forth and looks like a dying fish. “I had to get a fish to not be too embarrassed.”

Waters finally got on the scoreboard with a couple of 10-inch fish, but then...

“We’re still talking and catching small fish, when I suggested a Florida move,” said Waters. “He’s from Kansas and I suggested we go ‘flip the grass’, fish near the edge of the water with a worm or something into the grassy part of the water.”

The move bagged Waters a hard pull on his line with him thinking the lure got caught up on something in the grass, but not a fish.

“I set the hook and I know the fish in this lake,” said Waters. “I suggested to Brett to get the net, but his normal tournament rules they can’t use a net, they have to grab the fish with their hands; called hand-landing.”

After the battle to the boat, Chapman reached in the water and yanked up the much-bigger prize.

“He hand lands it saying ‘that’s a giant’,” said Waters. “He said that’s the deal and we kept fishing for another three hours with very little action. I’m about wore out and ready to go, not used to a 10-hour day like him.”

Waters moved to another part of the lake and utilized his special Hollow-bodied Frog lure.

“I was walking it in after he had just caught a 12-incher before a fish just smoked my Frog,” said Waters. “The fish tried to annihilate the frog. I said,’That’s another big fish.’”

Waters pulled in the near-eight pounder.

“I figured that’s a good day,” said Waters. “Brent was a bit baffled by my swing in luck, but I just got lucky.”

Waters said the filming of his adventure will be broadcast in a few weeks.

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