Walleye First Tournament Series; Chase Parsons, Winner
Sep 6th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Sep 6th, 2011 at 12:00 AM
At only 27 years old, pro walleye angler Chase Parsons said after winning the Lake Oahe 2011 FLW tournament and nearly 60,000 dollars, “This was the best career day in my life. It’s been a cool seven years working hard to get to this position.”
This writer has known Chase for most of those years, watching him grow from harassing his sister when he was four, to the many tournaments where he fished with dad Gary Parsons every day — dawn to dusk — to a golf star in high school, to talking with him and his very pregnant wife at the Merc National this past June, and remembering some of his “growing-up” moments.
For instance, when he wanted to move to the PWT pro ranks, I told him that it would require a year of riding and fishing as a co-angler. He was 19, and despite his emotions at this decision, he accepted his fate. It turned out, as he has said many times, “One of the best years of my life. I drew the big names like Skarlis, McComsey, Fairbairn, and I paid attention to how and why they made their moves. It still amazes me how calm and collected they were on bad days.”
He quickly discovered that pros do things differently, and seeing it first-hand proved to be a super learning tool. In defense of the year, Chase said, “I felt I could have competed, but since JK wanted me to fish as a co-angler, I did. What a difference this has made for me. Yes, I recommend young guys who want to figure out tournaments jump in and soak up the wealth of knowledge out there.”
I remember one of Chase’ finest learning moments. It occurred at a PWT tournament in Houghton. Fishing was tough on those UP lakes, but Chase unraveled a pattern, and was leading after two days. On the third and final day, his body language told the story (and I didn’t ask any questions about his day when I came alongside to pick up the cameraman). Chase lost his first four walleyes and a tournament victory that wasn’t to be.
He had the right pattern at the Championship on Milford Lake in Kansas, and nearly eclipsed Dave Andersen, but his second place finish was almost forgotten. In fact, to climb into the FLW winner’s circle in his first year competing on this circuit, Chase has racked up some impressive numbers. This year, he has a win, a 12th, a 13th and a 27th, raking in money at every stop. He was second to Tom Keenan in the Angler of the Year race. On the AIM tour in three years, he has been in the top 20 almost all the time, 9 of 11 tournaments. On the PWT, he’s had eight top 10 finishes including a fourth, fifth and sixth in 2007.
Chase now counts the best days of his life as his marriage, the birth of his son Logan in June and his first career walleye tournament win. “I’ve been close and in contention, but this is still something I’ve waited seven years to happen,” he said. “Dad told me when it’s your time, it’s your time. This was it!”
On Oahe, Chase only weighed two walleyes under 19 inches long, and with a 20-inch slot, that made a big difference. So did the fact he caught his two “overs” early every day, and fished less than three hours daily. He said, “I learned on Green Bay earlier this year when I threw back several five pounders on day one and came in a fish short about losing a tournament on day one. I never will make that mistake again.”
Chase admitted many emotions on the final day, remembering when his dad and uncle scored impressive one-two finishes on Oahe in the past, and Dad winning several Oahe tournaments. Uncle Keith Kavajecz was in second place and touring pro Tom Kemos was nipping at his heels (all four men travel together), made him realize he would congratulate them if they won, but his number one goal was to beat them. They finished one-two-three.
Chase caught lots of fish on Oahe and felt if this was like the AIM catch-record-release tournament format he would have had 30 fish over 20 inches daily. “I knew I could get ’em, but my technique will be revealed later. I have a tournament to win on Oahe in a few weeks,” he said.
Some “Chase” lessons learned over the years on tour:
1. I’m a much better angler now than I ever thought I was. The reason is I can switch tactics and be confident with any walleye-catching method.
2. The best walleye guys like Tom Keenan and Mike Gofron can win no matter the bite, because they’re extremely versatile.
3. Some anglers suffer when they have to get away from their strengths.
4. Tournaments force anglers to do whatever’s required, and be ready to attack the “bite” from all directions.
5. A pro cannot have a “weak link” in his presentation bag.
6. I feel after seven years, I can be in contention on every system, every day. Maybe this is my youth speaking, but I feel it.
7. One of the biggest mistakes a potential pro who wants to make a living at this game could make is jumping in too early.
8. The truth is the guys who make a living at this and have sponsors, work hard.
9. As a touring pro angler, I view tournaments as a bonus, but they’re less than 50 percent of what I do.
10. Working with sponsors in product development, doing shows and seminars, representing them whenever and wherever they ask, and being gone every weekend is the name of the game.
11. This is a tough industry on families, and at Oahe I missed Logan. Fortunately I saw pictures of him every night, but man do those babies seem to grow bigger every day.
Chase thanked the sponsors who took a chance on him when he was 20, and is
really proud of the companies he represents today including Tracker Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Mercury, MotorGuide, Berkley, Sebile, Lowrance, FinTech (with a full boat wrap), Mustad, Fishouflage, Frabill, and Oakley. “They allow me to pursue this dream and live this life. Without them, I’d be doing something differently,” he said.
Chase who admitted, “Now, I’m ready to win the next one,” can be reached at:
OutdoorsFIRST Radio Interview With Chase Parsons: VIEW!
Gary Parsons Interview after Chase’s Win: View