Drew Cook writes a storybook ending to Bassmaster Elite Series season

Drew Cook writes a storybook ending to Bassmaster Elite Series season

 

By Craig Lamb

Drew Cook’s rookie season as a Bassmaster® Elite Series pro couldn’t have finished any better. It could be a scripted TV documentary. Cook, 25, earned the well-deserved Bassmaster® Elite Series Rookie of the Year title, and it did not come easy. The best part of this story is how Cook got to where he is now, before even becoming eligible for the sport’s highest level of competition.

Drew Cook writes a storybook ending to Bassmaster Elite Series season Drew Cook's rookie season as a Bassmaster® Elite Series pro couldn't have finished

The hotly contested title was determined by points accrued at the nine 2019 Elite Series events. Those began in February in Cook’s home state of Florida and concluded with the Toyota® Bassmaster® Angler of the Year Championship held in Michigan in October.

Cook finished with 749 points over second-place finisher Lee Livesay, who had 749 points for the year. Livesay is also a much-sought trophy bass guide on Lake Fork Reservoir in Texas. Patrick Walters, a former collegiate bass champion, finished third with 741 points.

“This was a very talented rookie class that was filled with guys who had won at all levels,” he said. “Some of them I even fished against while in college, and others were hard at it for years, building up their skills to the top level of the sport.”

Cook, from Midway, Fla. in the state panhandle, quite literally built his skills from the ground up, which is what makes the story even better. In 2012, he won the Florida B.A.S.S.® Nation high school championship, and then fished on the Florida State University fishing team through graduation in 2017. The next year he qualified through the BassProShops.com Bassmaster® Opens, the feeder league of the Elite Series.

How to work through the B.A.S.S. ranks to build confidence

“There is no better way to do this than to have come up through the B.A.S.S.® high school, college, and Opens route,” he said. “B.A.S.S. makes what I have done possible by offering all those opportunities to gain experience, so by the time I was ready for the Elites. I had the confidence and experience needed to be successful.”

Last season, at the very first Open in Florida that would begin his Elite Series campaign, Cook overcame the kind of adversity that can be a huge setback for anyone lacking mental strength.

Drew Cook writes a storybook ending to Bassmaster Elite Series season Drew Cook's rookie season as a Bassmaster® Elite Series pro couldn't have finished

While practicing on Lake Kissimmee, he set the hook hard on a lure rig that featured a 1 1/4-ounce tungsten weight. He missed the fish, and the weight shot out of the water, striking him in the mouth with the force of a bullet. The impact knocked out a front tooth and shattered part of his jawbone. Cook refused to go back home and see his dentist, choosing instead to stick it out and play through the pain, which he did. And believe it or not, he finished third overall in the tournament.

Cook gave credit for his great season on the tour to the Skeeter® FX21 powered by a Yamaha VMAX SHO® 250 h.p. outboard.

“The outboard and boat are so dependable and perfectly matched that I never, ever had to worry about anything going wrong,” he said. “I was able to put forth 100 percent of my effort toward fishing.”

Cook hopes to carry over the momentum into his first Bassmaster Classic®, set for next March on Lake Guntersville in Alabama.

“My year went about as good as it could get for my rookie year,” said Cook. “I made really good decisions, fished really well.”

He continued, “I only had one day of the entire season that I actually regretted what I did. The only other disappointment was on a single day when I failed to capitalize on what I already had going on.”

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