It's been a dream of Tommy Brown's to make a go of fishing professionally. Family and career obligations have always come first, though.
This week, however, Brown's fantasy has become reality – on his home lake no less – and things are going better than he could've ever imagined.
After starting strong with a 19.27-pound stringer on day 1, he broke through with a tournament-best 22.63 today and opened up a 10-pound lead after 2 days of the Ft. Loudon/Tellico PAA Series.
"It was one of those things where it seemed like everything was meant to be," Brown said. "I couldn't have scripted it any better."
His 41.90 total so far is 10.09 pounds ahead of James Watson, who caught 12.41 today and has 31.81 overall. Day-1 leader Brandon Palaniuk slipped to 3rd after bagging 11.24, which gave him a 31.75 total.
Brown's local knowledge has come in handy this week. He's been starting his mornings in areas that typically hold smallmouths this time of year. His challenge today was battling a swift current and stiff winds.
"I had to really buckle down there to catch some smallmouth there and wound up catching four, including two good ones," he said. "I gave myself a 10 a.m. cut off for that spot regardless of what I caught. After that I went my largemouth hold where I'd caught of 2 1/2-pounders yesterday."
His first fish off that spot today was a 5-pounder and he followed that up with a 4 1/2-pounder. He then went after a fish he missed yesterday that was holed up in a bush and connected with it.
"Those were my first five keepers and by 11, I had the weight I brought in," he said. "It's a funny kind of lake. You can catch 20 pounds one day and the next you might not catch a fish.
"With the current being what it was this morning, I felt blessed to get two of them."
The forecast for the region is calling for a possible record low temperature tonight as the mercury is expected to drop into the mid 40s. It's expected to be mostly sunny with highs in the mid 70s for the final day of competition, which will feature the Top 15.
"I'm going to follow the exact same track I followed today," Brown said. "I have another half dozen places that are post-spawn type situations that hold good fish that I haven't touched.
"For as long as I can remember, all I've ever wanted to do is fish. I really believed that was what I was going to end up doing for a living. It's a 24/7 thing for me. I can't get it off my brain and to win this would be a dream come true for me."
For complete day-2 standings, click here.