Rutland's Chris Adams is making a splash casting his line as a
semi-professional tournament fisherman.
Adams opened his 2012 professional fishing season by winning the
Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Tournament on Lake
Champlain the weekend of June 23. Fishing out of Plattsburgh, N.Y.,
Chris pulled in some big fish: his five best bass weighed a
combined 18.91 pounds, with a 4.37-pounder topping his catch.
That outdid the second-place finisher by more than a pound, and
netted Chris more than $2,000 in prize money in the regional
tournament, which included anglers from throughout the Northeast
"This is my home lake," Adams said. "I've fished it my whole
life, so I've gotten to know it pretty well.
"I caught the big one early on a crankbait, which has a bill on
the front of the lure that forces it to dive as you reel it in,"
Adams said. "After that, I had a bit of a lull, but they started
biting again near the end of the day. Although there were slow
periods throughout the tournament, I knew if I stuck to my plan and
remained focused I'd have a chance at catching some good
Adams caught all of his winning fish - he released six others over
the course of the tournament, letting smaller fish go as he caught
bigger ones - in shallow water.
"Bass like areas with any type of structure, whether it's
shallow grasses or reeds or deep, rocky habitat. Those areas
attract bait fish and serve as ambush spots for feeding bass,"
Adams said. "I spend a lot of time looking for new fishing areas on
Champlain so I had some good spots in mind before I even hit the
water, and that paid off for me."
The Bassmaster Weekend Series is one of six tournament divisions
organized by Bassmaster, which runs fishing tournaments for
professional, college and amateur anglers. Adams is a part-time
professional, but he says the weekend series is a mix of anglers at
different levels, including many who also hold down regular
"There is some huge money at the upper echelon of bass
tournaments, in the Elite and Open divisions, where many anglers
are full-time fishermen," Adams says, likening the relationship
between the Weekend Series and the Elite and Open divisions to the
relationship between minor league and Major League Baseball. "I
aspire to the big leagues - the Elite and Open divisions - but I'm
still working my way up and having a great time in the
Adams was just a toddler when he began bass fishing with his
father more than 20 years ago.
"I am very lucky to have grown up on the water, learning a ton
from my father over the years and competing against some of the
best tournament fishermen in the northeast," Adams said. "The
Rutland County area has some of the most-skilled fishermen in the
region and it's a real challenge just to win a small, local club
tournament. I'm also very fortunate to have been raised on
Lake Champlain - it's the ultimate training ground for a tournament
fisherman because of its habitat diversity and abundance of quality
In recent years, he's begun to focus his summers on competing in
local, regional and national tournaments, and his results have
grown along with his commitment to the sport.
Adams won nine tournaments last year, including a win over 70
other teams in the 2011 Lake Champlain Open sponsored by Northern
Bass Supply. He also placed in the top 10 out of 120 professionals
in last year's Lake Champlain EverStart Series Tournament, where he
beat out numerous full-time professionals. Only one other
Vermonter, Tom LaVictoire of West Rutland, finished in the top
In 2010, Adams won two tournaments and placed second three
times, and in 2009 he won three and placed second twice.
"In the last few years, I've progressed quite a bit in terms of my
ability to fish instinctively, letting changing weather and water
conditions and fish behaviors guide my decision-making during a
tournament," Adams says. "But it's still a long way from the level
I'm at to becoming a touring professional with a major
Like a lot of kids who think about hitting the winning home run
in the World Series, Adams has thought about landing the winning
fish in a major tournament.
"Growing up you watch the pros and hope to be there someday,"
Adams said. "Even with rising expense costs and economic
challenges, there's always a flicker of hope that you might get an
opportunity. But right now I'm very happy where I'm at, working at
CV and fishing on the side."
Professionals who fish full time have enormous sponsorship
packages, much like Nascar drivers or golf or tennis pros, and top
fishermen can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Chris Adams does have his eyes open for a sponsor, which would
speak volumes about his success in the bass-fishing world, but for
now he's letting his record do the talking for him.
"I feel like I'm making real strides and getting better all the
time," Adams said. "Win or lose, I love the challenge of bass
fishing and trying to put together the puzzle every day I'm on the
water. So whether I keep finding success at this level or am able
to move up to the big leagues of fishing, I'm going to have a great