Deer Point Lake, FL-- Though it can be very lucrative, professional fishing is certainly not the most well known and followed sport.
So, it follows many people around the area may not be aware that an up and coming star in competitive bass fishing lives right here in our own back yard!
We're talking about Drew Benton, a Mosley/Rutherford and Gulf Coast graduate, who in fact moved from baseball to angling, and is making some serious bank doing it.
In fact you could just call him among the smartest people in the world! After all, Drew's figured out a way to make a career out of an activity most people use to relax.
"My first year of competitive fishing was in '08." Benton says. "I went down to Okeechobee and fished as a non-boater"
It was a potential soon realized by Drew.
"After that, the next year I fished the whole circuit as a pro and I started cashing checks"
And in 2008 cashing checks isn't bad, especially for a Sophomore at Gulf Coast. That's right, he took up professional fishing while he was a star catcher for the Commodores baseball team.
So how did a very good baseball player become an elite fisherman?
"You know I didn't see myself going any further with the baseball deal. You know I loved to play, it was my passion all through high school and college. Then when I got to that point, where I was enjoying fishing so much, I need that extra competition in my life."
And that competitive drive is starting to pay off as Drew qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup in Shreveport, Louisiana, August 15th. And Drew is happy to cross this one off the list,
"The goal at the beginning of the year was to make the Forrest Wood Cup. This is the Super Bowl of bass fishing. You got the top 46 (anglers) in the world competing on the Red River in Shreveport for half a million dollars and you cant, you can't trade that for anything."
And Benton reached that goal with ease as he is currently the 16th top angler in the country. So with that goal out of the way, is winning the 500 grand a possibility in Drew's mind?
"It's a river fishery. I grew up on a river fishery here at the Apalachicola River System so I'm pretty excited about how it could play out. I'm kind of a river rat at heart."
It looks like we'll have to wait until August 15th to see if his self proclaimed river rat-ness can produce some major cheese.
Drew will compete in two more tournaments before the Forrest Wood Cup, the Bassmaster Weekend Series July 13th and the Bassmaster Open August 1st-3rd in New York.