By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
After three Top-10 finishes in four Texas EverStarts events last year, Austin Terry thinks he's ready to step up to the FLW Tour. He won't reach his 22nd birthday until late May, but as Forrest Wood Cup champion Jacob Wheeler proved last year, 21 isn't too young if you've got the game to go cast-for-cast with the best in the sport.
"It'll be kind of intimidating, having never been to those places and knowing that at least half the guys I'm fishing against have been to all of them at least once," he said. "That gives them a big head start on me, but I'm also confident that what I can find in 4 days of practice will be as good as what everyone else finds.
"It'll be different fishing new lakes with shorter practices, but I'm definitely excited."
Last year marked Terry's first full campaign in the EverStarts and he logged finishes of 9th at Amistad, 8th at Rayburn and 6th at Lake of the Pines en route to ending up 6th in the points. His lone stinker was at Toledo Bend (77th).
In the EverStart Championship at Lake Ouachita, he missed the day-2 cut to the Top 20 by just 4 ounces.
"I spent a lot of time on the water last year and I learned a bunch," he said. "There were a lot of small things I picked up, like little things about the weather and how the fish were changing and what I needed to do to adapt.
"I also learned a lot of things about pre-fishing and how to (develop a) tournament strategy. Then on tournament days I was able to keep myself from getting strung out early – it's a long day and you don't have to catch them all first thing in the morning."
He got a considerable amount of help from Texas tourney veteran Ray Hanselman, with whom he also guides deer hunters in the fall. In fact, Terry is probably more well-known in bowhunting circles than he is for fishing, as he's twice appeared in Muzzy Bad to the Bones season highlight DVDs.
Much of the money he earned from guiding this past season will be put toward the launch of his pro angling career.
"I enjoy them both (hunting and fishing) a lot and it's always good to take a break by going from one to the other. But with the success I had (in the EverStarts) last year, fishing has been on my mind a lot.
"I love hunting, even though I don't get to do too much of it for myself anymore, but I'm ready to get back to fishing."
Can Go Either Way
Even though Terry has no experience on any of the Tour venues, he doesn't think he'll be too far out of his element at any of them. Like most Texans, he's a power-fisherman by nature, but he also employs (and even enjoys) lighter-line tactics.
"I like flipping and throwing big baits like topwaters, frogs and swimbaits, but I also do a lot of dropshotting," he said. "Dropshotting is one of my favorite things and I always have a rod set up for it on the deck of my boat. It's one of the things you have to know."
What he doesn't know at this point are many other tour-level anglers. There may not be another competitor on the Tour with whom he's well-acquainted.
"Right now, I'm going to be out there by myself. I think it would definitely be helpful to try to get to know some people, but I don't know who else (from the Texas EverStarts) decided to fish the Tour. Once the full list comes out, I might be able to recognize a few."
He's pumped about next month's Tour opener at Okeechobee, whether he'll be around any familiar faces or not.
"It'll be shallow grass and sight-fishing, so it should suit me well. It might be a hero-or-zero thing for me because there's so much dead water there.
"I'm pretty excited about the other ones, too – I feel like I can do well at all of them, but you never know. I need to make some checks, but in the EverStarts my goal was the win the Angler of the Year and win a tournament, and that's not going to change.
"When you go out there and fish with the best, everyone wants that check," he continued. "You've got to fish to win and hope you end up making Top-10 cuts and fishing the final day."
> Terry is still a student at Angelo State University (his major is marketing), but plans to limit his schedule for the spring to just a couple of online courses.
> He's working with a friend to help build and promote the Pro-Cord, a vinly-coated, stainless steel trolling-motor lift cord. His other sponsors are Falcon Rods, Hag's Tornado Baits and Fury Lures.