Without a doubt, Todd Schmitz of Goshen, Ind., is hooked on fishing.
A pro for the past five years, Schmitz took first prize in the prestigious Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open Tournament on the Detroit River the weekend of Aug. 20-22, besting some of the biggest names in fishing and taking home a purse of $46,286 — the largest of his career, The Goshen News reported.
Since his move from Minnesota to the Goshen area approximately eight years ago, Schmitz has spent nearly every waking moment outside of his job as a national RV representative for Carriage Inc. of Millersburg either fishing for pleasure or practicing for his next big tournament.
“I absolutely love to fish and be outdoors, both hunting and fishing,” Schmitz said. “I’ve got a strong competitive nature about me, so this is just a way for me to bring all of that together. When you catch a fish during competition, it’s 10 times more fun than when you just catch a fish when you’re out with your friends. And the money from fishing can be pretty good too.”
According to Schmitz, he got a taste for competitive fishing after college when high school and college sports could no longer feed his competitive drive.
“I was always into sports in high school, and then went to college to play football,” Schmitz said. “When all of that kind of ended, I got into this, and it kind of fed my competitive fire. I was hooked on it from day one.
“To be able to fish and compete at the same time is the ultimate rush.”
Luckily for Schmitz, both his wife and three daughters are supportive of his long hours spent fishing or working as a traveling sales rep.
His wife even urged him to join the Bass Club 19 years ago, he said. “A lot of people think she’s crazy to let me go fishing every week,” he said with a laugh, “but maybe not so much after last week.”
Schmitz has been toying with the idea of fishing full time for years, though such a change up to this point has not been realistic.
“If things worked out perfectly and I could pick up enough sponsors to pay the bills, I’d look at it,” Schmitz said. “To be competitive on the Elite series and to pay for all your equipment and entry fees you’d need about $100,000, which is not easy. But with all the sponsors and everything there are some people that make a lot of good money doing it.”
With the Detroit Northern Open now over, Schmitz said the accomplishment of what he considers to be the biggest win of his competitive fishing career is just now beginning to sink in.
“Not only was it the biggest prize I’ve won, but the competition that was up there was the toughest I’ve come up against,” Schmitz said. “To be able to compete against that caliber of fisherman, it’s very rewarding, especially for someone who still has a full-time job.
“It means all of those days I spent out on the water meant something.”
Looking forward to what’s next for the recent tournament winner, Schmitz was to be Detroit on Friday (Aug. 27) to compete in an unrelated tournament, followed by yet another tournament Sunday just west of Louisville.
As for what’s next in the Bassmaster Northern Opens, Schmitz said he will leave next month for Chesapeake Bay in Cecil County, Md., to compete in the third and final leg of the tournament series.
Two people from that tournament will qualify to compete in the Bassmasters Classic, Schmitz said. The top seven in the Northern Open point standings also qualify for the elite tour.
Schmitz is currently 21st in the rankings.
“I’m going to have to have a good tournament out there to make up the ground that I need to qualify for the tour,” he said. “If you can qualify for that and find the sponsors, that’s the big leagues.”