Outdoors

Homegrown confidence

Brent Chapman says the practice he gets on Lake Quivira helps him get most of the bass that strike his lures into the boat in tournaments.
Brent Chapman says the practice he gets on Lake Quivira helps him get most of the bass that strike his lures into the boat in tournaments. The Wichita Eagle

LAKE QUIVIRA — To most, it probably looked like Brent Chapman was doing some fun fishing Wednesday afternoon. Seldom did fifteen minutes pass that he wasn't lifting a fish into his boat.

But Chapman was actually hard at work on the lake that's just a few hundred yards from his Johnson County home.

Chapman, 37, gets his pay-checks fishing professional bass tournaments from California to the Carolinas. He credits work he does on and off the water in Kansas for much of his success.

"It's important for me to get out like this and do some fishing," Chapman said between casts. "This is where I need to be trying new baits or perfecting techniques. If I can do well here it greatly helps my confidence. Confidence is huge when you're fishing a tournament."

Chapman should be brimming with confidence. In February, he finished fifth at the Bassmaster Classic in Alabama — the Super Bowl of angling. It was his best finish in nine Classic appearances.

He has the skills and equipment to do well when he starts an eight-week, six tournament road trip this week. Getting ready for his busy season is a never-ending project for Chapman.

In a Kansas City warehouse, he has a long row of storage containers well-marked and filled with fishing equipment.

All will be taken on the road trip and should handle about any fishing situation he finds on the road.

If not?

In the warehouse are two rooms with tackle store-like pegboards filled with a huge variety of lures.

"I need to keep them stocked and well-organized," Chapman said. "If I need something my folks need to be able to find it and FedEx it to me at a tournament."

From there, he went home and loaded about 20 rods and reels into his electric "fishing cart" and headed to private, 250-acre Lake Quivira.

It's a water he knows well.

"We moved here when I was in high school and I fished here every day I could, probably 250 days a year or more," Chapman said. "One of the reasons I love coming here is because I'm confident I can catch fish."

And so he did Wednesday afternoon, never spending long in one spot or fishing one pattern.

Several times he caught a few bass on one bait then switched to another.

As he fished he was checking the action of his lures and making sure a rod and reel worked well.

Even the smallest bass had Chapman's attention. Some he reeled in quickly and lifted aboard with the rod.

He babied others that weren't hooked as well, never giving too much pressure, and knelt to lift the fish into the boat.

"We don't get to use nets in our tournaments, so this gives me great practice landing a lot of fish out here," Chapman said. "I don't lose many fish after I get them hooked and every fish can be important."

After a few hours of fishing Chapman had caught 25 to 30 bass from one to nearly five pounds. None came off once the hook was set.

And while he was readying fishing gear for the big trip his wife, Bobbi, was readying much more. She and their two kids — Mason, 6, and Makayla, 4 — will join Chapman on the road.

This week he'll drive a truck pulling their big camper while Bobbi drives another towing his boat.

Chapman credits his wife for much of his success in her role as accountant, travel agent and business manager. She's now home-schooling Mason while they're on the road, too.

All of that takes tremendous amounts of preparation. But the Chapmans say it's worth it to enjoy what's largely an eight-week vacation.

"It's great to be with my kids but it's so neat that they get to see so much of the country," Chapman said. "This year they've seen the Grand Canyon and the Sequoias. On the last trip they saw the ocean and we stopped and went (snow) skiing."

"I think it's worth it because we do get to spend so much time together as a family," she said.

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