We post our best fishing moments on social media – the personal bests, the perfect day, the big limit, the wondrous encounter with nature. Why not share them? Will you ever forget the first time you won money at a local tournament? For a brief moment, you felt like you had single handedly won World War Two. Nobody can blame you for bragging a bit. You earned the moment. Post away.
It’s a bit different to post our worst moments. How can we talk about fishing, prizes and tournament glory when a loved one is sick, or when we lose a family member, or when it feels like all the gravitational force in the universe is holding us down? Those posts are few and far between. They don’t fit the narrative, or so we are told.
But we all have those moments. Some of us have them for a few minutes, others for a day. In 2023, Derek Brundle had them for most of the year.
“Fishing took a back seat,” he posted on social media after returning home from the Yak Attack Kayak Bass Fishing national Championship on Kentucky Lake in October. “HELL,” he wrote, “everything took a back seat.” Brundle can write the word out in all caps without hyperbole. He knows it; he is a cancer survivor. The disease also recently took his younger brother. And then his wife suffered not one, but two strokes, at the start of 2022.
That’s why Kayak Bass Fishing didn’t reach out for quotes immediately after his big week on Kentucky Lake. We figured the renowned angler needed some time. When he was ready to talk, we did. One question was central: how did he manage to fish at all? Brundle’s explanations were just like the man himself: practical and inspirational.
But first, a bit of context for what he accomplished. In the fall of 2022, Derek
- Won the FishUSA KBF Challenge Series Angler of the Year title
- Finished in 4th place at the KBF Challenge Series Championship
- Placed 5th in the KBF Trail Series Championship
- Finished in 2nd place in the KFL team standings when his Massachusetts Maulers lost in that league’s championship event
- By finishing in the top 10 of the KBF Trail Series Angler of the Year race, he punched his ticket to Dee Zee KBF The Ten (for the third time).
To say he finished strong would be an understatement. It all began much differently, however, but there were two low points. One was the medical low point, after he fished the KBF Trail at Lake Murray. The other was a low point in fishing, during a family trip to California. In between, he adapted to challenges, and received help and support from the companies who support his fishing.
We caught up with Derek in mid-December, as his wife was finishing her rehab. He said:
“My wife’s first stroke was in January. When she stabilized her sister helped while I went to fish the Trail event at Murray. She had a second stroke when right after, and that’s when I shut everything down. I took a leave of absence from work and just focused on her. I knew then I couldn’t travel much for a while. That’s when the good relationships I have with sponsors took over. We communicated a lot, I told them I couldn’t do anything, and they understood. They were great.”
Brundle adapted his fishing to the circumstance. As it does for most everyone else, it provided him the distraction he needed during trying times. The flexibility of the FishUSA KBF Challenge Series was instrumental in it as the weather warmed in his home state of Massachusetts….
“The Challenge Series let me jump in and fish in between doctor appointments I would get on the water and the stress melted away. The Series forced me to fish local spots that I had been away from, so I fished spots I knew. I didn’t have time to try new areas, so I was thorough. I hammered point A, point B, point C. I had to trim the fat, so to speak.”
As the season wore on, Brundle’s family received answers to his wife’s medical problems, and by the time summer rolled in, he was prepared to resume limited travel, for family, fishing, or both. Brundle had fished well at Murray, but the weeks following Brundle’s trip to Lake Murray were a low point in the family medical crisis. In mid summer, Brundle and his wife went to California, where he also fished the KBF Trail events at Clear Lake. Ironically, Brundle had fished well at Murray, but not at Clear Lake. He had to hit bottom as a fisherman before making his epic fall run to Kentucky Lake….
“When we found the cause of the strokes, she had a procedure…..we then decided to visit family in California when the doctors cleared her for travel. It worked out that the KBF Trail was at Clear Lake when we were there, so I contacted my friend Shane Lemmon and we hit the lake. But it was 8 feet low and it was like 105 degrees, nothing like what I expected. I didn’t practice, the fish were not eating, and I blanked for the first time ever in a tournament.”
“Clear Lake prepared me for the rest of the season. I remembered that you can just assume you will roll in and catch fish. I need that trip. We needed it. It got me ready for Kentucky Lake.”
“I did a ton of research. I watched videos and read maps. I focused on a few areas after I looked for something I would be comfortable fishing. I found a chatterbait pattern and I was catching 70-80 fish per day in pre-fishing. After hearing people were struggling, I thought I had a chance to make some noise.”
“I was using my Yak Rods X-Chatter chatterbait rod and throwing a bait with an obnoxiously chartreuse trailer. I dropped from a heavier line to 14 lb test, and I was grinding that bait along the rocks. I could feel there was a difference in the vibration because of the line.
I also found a dock that kept producing fish. It was a floating dock, and you had to angle your cast perfectly. That dock filled my limit on two days I called it the magic dock. That’s where I fished the entire time, in that one general area.”
When it was over, the Nu Canoe pro brought home his third KBF title. Previously, he had won the 2019 Rookie of the Year crown, and also a Northeast Trail Series AOY title. But this one was different. He concluded:
“I didn’t know I had it in me. It revitalized me. I only fished a few big events, barely fished with my KFL team. The Challenge Series Angler of the Year title got me back to what I do. I was fired up.”
Next year, my wife is going to travel with me to Florida for the start of the KBF Trail and Dee Zee KBF the Ten. We are gonna hang out and do some fishing. Hopefully I’ll kick the year off with a win. I am excited because Chad [Hoover] added some new lakes. It’s awesome to just be able to go fish.”
Derek Brundle is sponsored by: NuCanoe MotorGuide Amped Outdoors LLC X Zone Lures Yakrods RAZE Eyewear Crosskix Da Bomb Anchor Company Rogue Fishing Co. YakGadget Accent Fishing Products Power-Pole Total Boat Control Thrasher Sports Apparel
The 2022 YakAttack Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship Powered by Dakota Lithium was made possible by support from the Paris-Henry County Chamber of Commerce at ExperienceParis.
For Complete standings: https://app.fishingchaos.com/tournament/2022-kbf-championships
Click Here To Watch the Complete KBF National Championship Awards Ceremony, including announcement of Dee Zee KBF the TEN
First Published December 17, 2022
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