Bradley Roy of Lancaster, Ky., who celebrated his 19th birthday on Nov. 2, signed up Monday for the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series, becoming the youngest angler at the sport’s highest level of pro competition.
“I know I’m young, but this has been my lifelong dream,” he said. “This is what I want to do as a career, so this is a great opportunity, a jump start on my career.”
Before Roy, the youngest Elite rookie had been Texas’ Corey Waldrop, who turned 20 early in the 2008 Elite season. Others included Luke Gritter of Kalamazoo, Mich., who was 22 when he competed in the 2009 season, and Elite pro Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., who at 23 was the youngest on the 2007 Elite roster.
Roy was still 18 when he qualified Oct. 24 for the Elite Series by finishing fifth in points in the 2009 Bassmaster Southern Open trail. Only the top seven qualified.
Of the hundreds of 2009 Bassmaster Open anglers, only 21 earned invitations for the 2010 Elite season (seven from each of three Open divisions). Some anglers try for years to be among those who move up, but Roy advanced after his first Open season.
But Roy has been something of a wunderkind in BASS competitions. At age 13, he was the 2004 Bassmaster Junior World champion in the 11-14 age group. At age 17, he outperformed many other Kentuckians to earn the right to be the sole representative of his state in the 2008 BASS Federation Nation Championship.
In the Elite Series, Roy knows the game will become considerably tougher.
“Obviously, I’m going to make a lot of mistakes, but I try to learn from my mistakes,” he said “Hopefully I can learn, then adapt quickly.”
Another new challenge will be handling a grueling, eight-event regular-season schedule. The first tournament will be the March 11-14 Duel in the Delta out of Stockton, Calif.; the season closer will be the June 17-20 Sooner Run on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma. (To compete in the two-event Elite post-season for 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year honors, Roy would have to be one of 12 qualifiers.)
“The travel, I’m used to,” Roy said. “The thing I worry about the most is the lakes I’ve never fished before.”
While pro fishing is his chosen career, college is still in his future. He said he plans to continue with his online course work in business and marketing.
“That’s how I fished the Opens this past year. It might take longer to get a degree, but it’s how I can continue my education while I fish the Elites,” he said.
He’s now taking fall semester exams, all while working on building a stable of sponsors. He said he has verbal commitments from several companies and is close to a boat wrap.
“This is my dream coming true, so I’m working hard, staying positive, and putting all I can into making sponsorships happen,” he said.