Hank Cherry remembers skipping a day of high school back in 1992 to go watch the weigh-ins for the North Carolina Bassmaster Top 100 at Lake Norman in person. He was a die-hard fishing fan and was desperate to get an up-close look at what the pros caught at his home lake.
He made it back to school in time for baseball practice that day, but his superiors were wise to the caper.
“I got in a little bit of trouble for that,” he said.
But it was well worth it for the 38-year-old from Maiden, N.C., who told BassFan today that he has accepted an invitation to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2013.
In a few months, he’ll fish his first Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake. He earned that by winning the Lewis Smith Lake Southern Open in early October. The Elite Series invite came after he finished 4th in Southern Open points.
“We had a family pow-wow and we all talked - my wife and I and our extended family – and we just decided that if I was going to do it, the time was now and that I should jump all the way in instead of doing it one step at a time,” he said. “I’ve been watching and fishing and dreaming about the Bassmaster Classic since I knew what it was. Growing up around here, I got to hear everything all the time about Hank Parker. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
The support of his family was critical in helping him make the decision.
“The day I won at Smith, I made the decision in my head that I was going to do it,” he said. “I also made the decision that if it was not going to be a fit for my family and if my wife wasn’t into it 100 percent, then there was no way I was going to do it. We have a 3-year-old and another one on the way so it’s a big load for her, too, but she said over and over again that she knows how important this is to me.”
He fished the FLW Tour in 2007-08, but loss of sponsorship support forced him to get out of tournament fishing almost entirely. He won a new boat at an Oakley Big Bass Tournament at Lake Norman in 2010 and that seemed to re-ignite the passion again.
“I’m not planning on this being a one-time thing and be done,” he said. “This is something I want to pursue and hopefully, this is the last job I ever have to have.”
He said he hasn’t secured a wrap sponsor for next season yet, but has several potential deals in the works.