Chad Randles Reflects on his Lake Toho Win!

I’ve had about a week to reflect on my recent victory at Lake Toho on the FLW Tour. I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my thoughts following the tournament. First and foremost, I have to thank my wife and family for giving me the opportunity to chase my dreams. While I’m gone, the days and long hours are definitely hectic on a mom trying to raise two kids under the age of four. Also, my two kids, Lexi and Mason, miss their daddy when I am gone. I definitely miss them too. Thank goodness for today’s technology and FaceTime to help offset not “seeing each other” on a daily basis.

I also want to thank Bridgford Foods and ProData Computer Services for allowing me the opportunity to represent them this year. I am so deeply humbled by their faith in me not only as an angler, but as an advocate for them. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be able to chase my dreams of becoming a full-time professional angler. I am so undeniably grateful to not only be a part of such a great company like Bridgford, but a part of a great team that Bridgford Foods has assembled. It is hard to put into words.

Last but not least, I am so grateful for Randy Blaukat. I don’t thank him nearly enough for all that he has done to further my dreams of pursuing a fishing career. Most people don’t know that Randy and I are cousins; my mom and his mom are sisters. Without Randy’s mentoring, I would definitely not be the angler I am today. We travel together, room together, eat together, fish together, and strategize together. For an angler of his caliber to strategize with me on this level, really means a lot. I think on one hand he is measuring my progress in becoming a full-time professional angler, and on the other hand he is strategizing with me – confirming his analysis of the fishing conditions.

I had only been to Lake Toho once before in 2008, and although my first tournament here didn’t go so well, I was looking forward to the first day of practice. However, after the three days of practice from daylight to dark and only 5 total bites… I had a feeling that it was going to be a very tough tournament. I met my 1st day partner James Biggs at the FLW Pre Tournament meeting on Wednesday evening and we formulated a game plan for the first day of the tournament. My plan, because practice was so tough, was to simply focus on fishing and never stop until it was time for weigh-in, hope for 5 bites and put me in contention for a check, even if that meant throwing a Senko all day long. Fortunately for me, it turned out to be a great move. By 10:00 a.m. I had my limit, and even more impressively, 19 lbs. As a co-angler, getting a limit from the back of the boat is hard enough, and to get that kind of weight is rare. I knew going to weigh-in that I would be in the hunt for the lead, and fortunately after day 1, I had a 12 oz. lead over second place and more importantly a 2 pound lead over third place. One thing I have learned, in literally hundreds of tournaments I have fished in, is that when you are supposed to win, things just happen for the good; for no apparent reason. For example, my first two fish, a 5-pounder and 4-pounder, got wrapped around the cattails and reeds we were fishing. When this happens, most of the time the fish will come off. Unless you can get to it and are able to put it in the net before it has a chance to flop off. However, this time the reeds broke into two, and both fish just came straight in. This just doesn’t happen, especially with 15 lb. test Fluorocarbon. Braid yes … Fluorocarbon no!

After the Day 1 weigh-in, I met my Day 2 partner Stetson Blaylock. He told me what we were going to do and I formulated my game plan. On Day 2, we blasted off and went to his first spot. We had been there for about an hour, both throwing a Carolina Rig. After he boated 3 fish and I hadn’t even had a bite, I decided to go back to my Senko and do what got me the lead. On my first cast I got a bite and it was a 3-pounder. Stetson continued to finish out his limit, then something happened. Remember that comment about when you’re supposed to win, things just happen for no reason? Well, about the time Stetson finished out his limit, the winds shifted from out of the south to the north, positioning the boat so I could make better and more accurate casts. In the next 30 minutes, I had 4 more bites to finish out my limit, giving me a shot for my very first FLW Tour win.

Going to weigh-in, I knew I had somewhere between 10 and 11 pounds. I wasn’t sure if that was going to be enough to win, but it would definitely keep me in the Top 5, giving me much needed points for the season to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup. When I got to weigh-in and went to sign my weigh-in slip, the tournament director held me back and had me weigh-in last. I knew it right then – I had a legitimate shot at winning. I had to wait at the end of the line for over two hours to weigh-in. I could see the leaderboard and followed along closely. By the time I got to the stage, I knew it was just a formality to weigh my fish.

Every time I get out on the water, the competitive side of me wants to catch the biggest and most fish. However, as a co-angler in a tournament, I know I am there to learn techniques and watch how and when these guys make changes throughout the day. I also realize that professional anglers have more on the line than I do. I believe that the co-angler should do his or her best to fish, without hampering the pro-angler’s ability in any way. The biggest factor about being a co-angler is adapting to your surroundings. No matter where your pro partner takes you, you have to be ready to adapt to catch fish on a moment’s notice, and be thankful for every bite you are fortunate enough to get. I was very fortunate to be in the right spot at the right time, and I was fortunate to catch enough fish to win. As I said before, when you are supposed to win, you’ll win.

- Chad Randles