Pro angler Chad Pipkens, the man with the spikey hair and a primary sponsorship from Douglas J Salons wouldn’t recommend breaking your collarbone to launch a streak of top tournament finishes and Toyota Bonus Bucks checks. But for the always-positive Pipkens, that’s exactly the prosperous path he’s been on this season.

“Life is good. I’m making a living fishing, and I think the broken collarbone earlier this year has actually helped in a really weird way. Because when you’re basically competing with one arm, you sort of lower your expectations, and that took a lot of pressure off me. I fished a whole lot freer and ultimately better,” says Pipkens.

The broken collarbone occurred during a bad fall into the boards of a hockey rink while Pipkens was enjoying his other favorite sport. It happened after the second Elite Series event this year and just before the third event at Lake Hartwell. The bone was broken in three places, and required an orthopedic plate and seven screws.

The fact he was able to compete with one arm against the best anglers in the world was amazing enough, but to finish in the Top 10 and haul home $15,000 from B.A.S.S. and $2,000 in Toyota Bonus Bucks was very possibly one of the greatest storylines of this season.

The collarbone has healed well, aside from what Pipkens describes as a scar worthy of a good story at the beach…and he’s not slowed one bit since Hartwell in his tournament performance either. He’s now notched five Top 10s in Bassmaster Elite and Open events this year.

“I’ve learned to listen to myself. To fish free of pressure. And to fish my style – which is away from the bank – ignoring all the visible targets on the bank – reading my sonar more – and doing what I’ve got the most confidence in,” he reflects gratefully.

“I’ve been cleaning up on the Toyota Bonus Bucks checks lately. I won Bonus Bucks at Hartwell, Chickamauga, and The James River. I’m on the phone a lot with Kendell (the Bonus Bucks program director in Tulsa),” he grins.

If Pipkens isn’t on your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team this week at the St. Lawrence River…he should be.

The dude is from Michigan. He can flat-out catch smallmouth, and confessed he caught what is likely his personal best smallie ever in practice this week – a goby-stuffed beast he believes was 7-pounds.

So indeed Pipkens’ uncanny path to success this season looks to continue in gorgeous Upstate New York – where the morning air in August is cool enough to require a Carhartt hoodie at launch.

St. Lawrence County is also a place where the pretty girls drink wine slushies, and the local people are as sweet and kind as anywhere in America. And apparently for Chad Pipkens, it’s a world-class fishery where seven screws in your collarbone can eventually equate to a 7-pound smallmouth on the end of your line.