Shane Lehew has made an extremely smooth transition from collegiate fishing to the professional ranks.
With two-thirds of the FLW Tour season in the books, the 25-year-old former University of North Carolina-Charlotte standout is 31st in the Angler of the Year race, having logged three Top-40 finishes in four outings. He leads the rookie points list and is inside the cutoff to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup.
The only event he's flopped in was the one closest to home – he was 118th at Lake Hartwell.
"I've got no complaints so far except for that tournament," he said. "I was looking forward to that one, even though I'd only been there a couple of times and that was years ago. I spent my time there trying to catch big ones when I should've just gotten whatever I could."
It'll be a challenge to maintain his positions on the points list as the last two derbies of the season will be ledge-fishing affairs, and that's not his preferred style.
"I'm more of a shallow-water power-fisherman – I like to throw a jig and stuff like that. I've fished both places a couple of times and it'll be all deep fishing.
"I just spent 2 days (pre-fishing) at Pickwick. Around here, I've been working on trying to get better at using my graphs and finding schools of fish."
The runner-up in the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship is finishing up his degree in criminal justice this spring. He's always been intrigued by the possibility of becoming a detective, but would much rather have a long career wielding a rod and reel.
"To be honest, I really went to school for the college fishing. My mom wanted me to go, so it was a good compromise."
He's likely the only angler ever to finish 2nd to his grandfather in a BFL – that occurred in February at Lake Norman. The victory over a 140-angler field that included Tour standouts Bryan Thrift and Matt Arey was Larry Lehew's first in 40 BFL starts.
"If I could finish 2nd to him every time, I'd be happy," Shane said. "I've got a long time to do this, but he doesn't have as long."