BassWestUSA - July/August, 2009, Page 18

From Joe To pro

James headed for Lake Fork, without a place to stay, without a job, and only a few contacts made through friends. Two of those first contacts were Lance Vick and Kelly Jordon. Both anglers helped James establish his guiding business. Around the same time, he also started working for Mark Pack, owner of Lake Fork Tackle. “Lake Fork Tackle really helped me out. I was able to work for them and get time off as needed to guide. It was a perfect scenario as I was trying to build my guide service. At the time, Mark was an FLW tour pro and Classic qualifier, so he was able to offer some great advice. Kelly Jordon was also hanging around a lot back then, and through him, I met Jay Yelas. It was a re- ally growing period for me. I was spending just a ton of time on the water and meeting several great anglers. Lake Fork was really a training ground for taking the next step of fishing the tour.”

pAcked And heAded For TexAs

The first couple years were not easy ones for James in East Texas. To make ends meet financially, he lived in a barn, rent-free, in exchange for tending cows. When a full-time farm laborer was hired a year later, he was forced into another move.

“i Am reALLY exciTed To pArTner

wiTh A compAnY Like BAss TAck-

Le depoT. Their dedicATion To

Their Business And AFFiLiATions

wiTh BAsswesT mAgAzine And

The AngLers choice TournA-

menT TrAiL hAs reALLY BroughT

Them To The ForeFronT oF The

indusTrY. iT is VerY exciTing To

Be A pArT oF Their TeAm whiLe

Fishing on Tour.”

He established his second impromptu resi- dence in the Lake Fork Tackle warehouse. Those initial sacrifices allowed James to save enough money to purchase a mobile home a little while later. James returned to competitive an- gling in 2001 through the Bassmaster Cen- tral Invitational circuit. Despite the experi- ence gained on Fork, financial success did not immediately follow in competition. He struggled to win money and expenses were accumulating at an accelerated rate. “I was doing everything my way and tried to do everything that I could to get ahead. I would get a little bit ahead at times, and then slide back and go into debt. I was kind of at the end of my ropes. I really didn’t know what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it. At the same time, I also felt like I was away from home and pretty much alone. That was when, with support from Jay Yelas and Kelly Jordon, I decided to give my life to the Lord and become a Christian. That was the point when I got my priorities straight. Prior to that, every-

Photo courtesy BASS Communications

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July/August 2009