Hank Cherry How I Got Here
Many of us look to the elite anglers and envy them as they get to do what we all love to do, fish! Life’s path however isn’t always a smooth one. Having interviewed many of the top pros, they have all had some kind of break to get to where they are now. Be it a win, an opportunity or a simple foot in the door, each angler has experienced something that has steered their path towards fishing.
For B.A.S.S. Elite angler Hank Cherry, his path wasn’t as easy as just “making it”. Cherry has experienced the ups and downs of professional fishing that many have had to endure, however his ups and downs were far more extreme than the next.
“Like a lot of other tournament guys, I’ve been fishing tournaments for years”, says Cherry. “Funny thing, I actually fished my first tournament out of a pontoon boat!”
“In the early 2000s I was fishing various tournaments, like the BFLs and had some success, but nothing too great. I was married at the time and eventually life took a turn and we got a divorce. Divorce isn’t easy on anyone, and that wasn’t a great time in my life. I guess you could say I went a little crazy at that time and I left fishing.”
“Eventually after I straightened out I got back into the sport and I was actually fishing pretty decently. I won a BFL wildcard and the FLW came to Lake Norman, which is a lake I know quite well. That season ended up o.k., but it wasn’t until the following season that things really started to go sideways. It was around 2006/2007 when I lost my job and we were having a hard time paying the bills and putting food in our mouths. I was remarried with a kid by then and I was third in line to eat. It didn’t matter what I did, for the life of me I couldn’t find a job. Of course with no job means no fishing, so I sold everything off and left fishing again. I was in total survival mode.”
“I didn’t fish for about 2 ½ years and it was about 2009 when a buddy came to me and convinced me to fish a tournament on Lake Norman. That tournament went extremely well and I won a boat. So I went from having no money, no job, no boat to winning a boat and getting right back into fishing.”
“Things seem to have a strange way of working out,” explains Cherry. “I was down and out, won a boat and ended up finding a job and I was back on my feet again.”
Certain things happen for a reason. With Cherry winning a boat and finding a job, he decided to talk to his wife about getting into fishing competitively again. He just had a feeling with the recent success that he was meant to fish.
“In 2012, I went to my wife and told her I wanted to fish,” said Cherry. “I just wanted one last crack at it because I knew I was supposed to fish for a living. My wife was behind me 100% and I ended up fishing the opens one last time. In September of 2012, someone must have been looking out for me because I won the open on Smith Lake by one ounce and qualified for the Elites and the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. I ended up finished 3rd at the Classic.”
“Three years ago I was baptised and it changed a lot. It put me on the right path because for a long time I was having a hard time finding my way. The ups and downs I went through really took their toll on my family and I. I spent money as fast as I made it. I know where I was and I’m not going back there.”
“Often times you hear guys talk about their support system, well my wife has truly been mine. She has been with me through thick and thin and she makes me a better person. I’m not sure where I would be today without her.”
Cherry is going into his third season fishing the Elites and still being new to professional fishing, he continues to find his way.
“Last year was a subpar year,” explains Cherry. “I’m still new at balancing fishing and sponsors but I started to figure it at out at the end of the season, so I’ll get there soon enough and I’m looking forward to the 2015 season.”