Terry Scroggins Taking It In Stride
Two days after enjoying the biggest victory of his young career and pocketing $100,000, Terry Scroggins could be found operating a paint gun at his family-run auto body shop in Palatka, Fla.
Success has obviously not gone to his head.
"That $100,000 can go real quick when you're fishing the Tour," the 33-year-old angler said, smiling. "It doesn't take long at all. I realize that.
"I had to come back and make sure everything was going good here. I'll probably take some time off and try to get up to Lake Eufaula between these tournaments and look around before cut-off."
Scroggins' work in the shop was interrupted often by calls of congratulations and well-wishers who stopped by the shop.
That's because the soft-spoken pro has long been a hometown hero in this small community located in the shadow of the St. Johns River. Raised on the banks of the river, Scroggins has spent as much as 300 days a year fishing these waters. When pressed, the youthful-looking angler estimates that he has won "400 or 500" tournaments of various sizes on the river. He then lowered the estimate to 300 in an effort to avoid being too brash.
But Scroggins began to escape the local spotlight in December 2001 when he stepped up in competition and won the $250,000 Florida Bassmaster Eastern Open on the St. Johns. He then went on to finish fifth in the Eastern standings and earn his first ticket to the coveted Bassmasters Classic.
After finishing 40th in the 2003 Bassmaster Tour opener and then winning the Lake Okeechobee stop a week later, Scroggins finds himself in second place in the BASS Angler of the Year race and well on the way to making a national name for himself.
His Tour victory came on a lake he had only visited three times despite living in Florida.
"I was just real fortunate to make the right decisions, now that I sit back and look at it," Scroggins admitted. "When you're out there doing it, you don't know if you're making the right moves or not. After it's all said and done, I'm pretty proud of the moves I made."
His next goal is to win a tournament outside of the Sunshine State. Florida pros are often saddled with the label of not being versatile enough to succeed consistently away from their home state. "That doesn't bother me a bit because a lot of people from outside of Florida can't fish in Florida," he said. "I'd like to win one outside of Florida, but I don't feel like I have anything to prove."
After enjoying a successful scouting visit before the lake went off-limits, Scroggins feels good about his chances in the next Tour stop (Feb. 6-9 at Lake Seminole).
Scroggins readily admits that he is surprised at how quickly success has come for him in the big leagues of bass fishing.
"Yes, I am, especially when you consider how hard the competition is," he explained. "It's hard to explain how tough the competition is out there. These guys are really good. When you get around them, you can tell just how good they are.
"There are a lot of guys who have been out there a long time without winning one of these tournaments. They're really hard to win. Winning a four-day tournament is tough."
Georgia pro Jody Cordell's morning got off to an frustrating start on the second day of the tournament when he couldn't get his hotel room door open. "I got stuck inside my hotel room this morning before take-off," he said. "The maintenance man had take the air conditioning unit out, crawl through the hole and take the door off the hinges to let me out."
Arkansas pro Scott Rook is the Tour's version of Picasso. His skill with an airbrush is in great demand. When he isn't fishing the Tour, Rook can often be found in his workshop painting beautiful new color schemes on lures, particularly Berkley Frenzy crankbaits. He also creates intricately colored bullet weights for fellow Arkansan George Cochran.
"Scott does a gorgeous job," Cochran said. "I have a big variety of painted sinkers thanks to Scott. If I'm using a black-and-red tube, my sinker is black with red flake. If I'm using a pumpkin-colored worm, he paints me a pumpkin-colored sinker. When you're fishing in clear water with plastics like the (Strike King) 3X baits, I like to match the lead with the color of it. It just seems like you'll catch more fish. I think it makes a big difference."
DID YOU KNOW?
North Carolina pro Dustin Wilks, 26, won the BASSMASTER Eastern Invitational points title as a college senior.
Rook becomes 42 on Jan. 22, while Mark Tucker of Missouri turns 42 on Jan. 31. Oklahoma pro Ken Cook (56) and Japan's Kotaro Kiriyama (32) share Feb. 2 as their birthday. Veteran pro Denny Brauer turns 54 on Feb. 3.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO...
South Carolina pro Todd Auten would be working as an automotive mechanic. That has been his occupation for years between tournament appearances before joining the Bassmaster Tour this season.
THEY SAID IT
"Before I won the (1987) Classic, I was working on the railroad. I had six laundromats. I had a car lot. But back then there were only four or five tournaments a year. There's no way anybody could hardly work one job now and fish the circuit because there's so many tournaments and the competition is so tough. Today a professional angler has to be a professional." Two-time Bassmasters Classic champion George Cochran.