Hank Cherry and the Tug of Family

“I hope you dance…”

Dateline:  La Crosse, Wis.

I never told Barb, this. Never told, Ashley, never told, Jimmy. But Ashley. But Jimmy.

When we first brought you home from the hospital, that first or second night that you were with us, when Mommy was exhausted and asleep, I would get up and go into your nursery,

and I would gently pick you up in your blanket,

and I would hold you in my arms, tight against my chest,

and we would dance.

In the moonlight of Fresno,

we would dance.

In the moonlight of Allentown,

we would dance.

And sometimes you would open your eyes, and in the moonlight as we danced I would rub noses and kiss you cheeks,

and in a whisper,

I would sing to you,

about love,

and mommies,

and daddies,

and little babies, blue or pink.

Ashley,

Jimmy,

I know you don’t remember it, but whenever I’m out, and it is a clear moonlight night,

I still smell your baby powder,

I still feel your perfect skin, your wisps of hair,

and in that special place you have in my heart,

we,

still,

dance.

“…I hope you never lose your sense of wonder…”

Cherry Pumps Newman Derby

(Editor’s note: Bassmaster Elite Series angler Hank Cherry wrote the following piece about the Ryan Newman Foundation tournament that’ll be held on his home lake in December.) As posted on BassFan.com

The term “Dog Days” usually refers to the hottest time of the summer, typically the months of July and August. In Mooresville, N.C., on Lake Norman, you’ll also find the Dog Days in December. In this case I’m not talking about the weather, so you better bring a jacket.

I’m referring to the bass tournament held by the Ryan Newman Foundation each year. The Foundation educates people about spaying/neutering their pets and encourages the adoption of pets from shelters. The event is attended by bass fishing professionals and race car drivers alike.

NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is as passionate about the outdoors and pets as I am and I look forward to representing my sponsors at this event and supporting Ryan’s mission.

Lake Norman is my home lake and several big tournaments are held here each year. Although it’s not known for really big bass, there are some 7- and 8 -pounders in here, but fish in the 5-pound range are much more common. There are more than 500 miles of shoreline and it is heavily populated, so there are lots of docks and riprap to fish.

With fall quickly approaching, the water temperature is dropping and the fishing should be good. If the water gets down to about 55 degrees in December, the fishing will be really good. I expect most anglers will be targeting largemouth and spotted bass in 5 feet or less. I’ll have a Death Shimmer spinnerbait and an E.R. Lures flipping jig tied on, for sure. I also expect the umbrella rig to be a factor this time of year. It is one bait that can really help fill out a limit when the fishing is a little slow.

For me, dock fishing is what I’m looking forward to at this tournament. I’ll search the lake trying to figure out how far back in the pockets the fish are holding and then I’ll run a pattern fishing all the docks in those areas around the lake. Finding docks that have added man-made structure like brush piles really increases my odds of catching quality tournament fish. There are so many fish in the lake and so many docks to fish that I don’t think there’s a bad one.

I would really like to encourage people to come out and support this event on Dec.14. Not only will you get to spend some quality time fishing with family and friends, but you will be supporting a great organization. To register for this tournament, click here. If you would like to learn more about the Ryan Newman Foundation, click here. I hope to see you there.

If you’re not able to make it in December or if you’re up for a second challenge, please join me at the Jim Ledbetter Memorial Tournament, March 8, 2014. This will be the 28th annual event for anglers to get together and raise money for cancer research.

Q & A With Elite Series ROY Hank Cherry

Before last October’s win at the Bassmaster Open on Smith Lake, Hank Cherry was probably not a name that most bassaholics recognized. Prior to that victory, he’d had a workmanlike career in fishing; including a couple of decent years on the FLW Tour (07 & 08) and a handful of BFL wins around his native North Carolina. A much better resume than 95% of tournament bass fishermen for sure, but nothing that separated him from the large pack of competent, yet not quite there touring pros. Continue reading “Q & A With Elite Series ROY Hank Cherry”

“I hope you dance…”

Dateline:  La Crosse, WI

I never told Barb, this. Never told, Ashley, never told, Jimmy. But Ashley. But Jimmy.

When we first brought you home from the hospital, that first or second night that you were with us, when Mommy was exhausted and asleep, I would get up and go into your nursery,

and I would gently pick you up in your blanket,

and I would hold you in my arms, tight against my chest,

and we would dance.

In the moonlight of Fresno,

we would dance.

In the moonlight of Allentown,

we would dance.

And sometimes you would open your eyes, and in the moonlight as we danced I would rub noses and kiss you cheeks,

and in a whisper,

I would sing to you,

about love,

and mommies,

and daddies,

and little babies, blue or pink.

Ashley,

Jimmy,

I know you don’t remember it, but whenever I’m out, and it is a clear moonlight night,

I still smell your baby powder,

I still feel your perfect skin, your wisps of hair,

and in that special place you have in my heart,

we,

still,

dance.

“…I hope you never lose your sense of wonder…”

In every life, comes moments of love,

moments of happiness,

moments of joy.

I remember the moment I first looked into the eyes of the woman who would be my wife.

I remember the moment, when she told me, of the baby within.

I remember the moment when I was the first person on Earth to hold our children.

Life so special, it can only come in a moment.

Moments so special, they’re numbered, moments so special they may be the last thing you remember on Earth.

In the end, I won’t remember the stories I wrote, the jerk bosses I had to deal with, the bizarre company policies, or the pretty cars, or fancy shirts,

in the end,

our last thoughts will be of love.

Moments of love, moments of love that I saw last night as I sat and did a story with rookie Elite Angler, Hank Cherry.

A couple days ago, I was leaning up against Hank’s boat after he came in from practice, he offered me a slice of pizza, and as he sat in his boat eating, we were just talking when he said, “db I’ve had a hard time keeping my head in the game this week.”

Now this dude, is a stick, he’s leading the rookie of the year race, he’s 14th in the Angler of the Year race…and his head, “…isn’t in it.”

“Dude, what are you talking about…where is your head.’

And he stops eating pizza and looks at me and says,

“…with Bella Grace.”

“…I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean…”

Relaxed, Focused Cherry Relishing Fresh Start

(As posted on BassFan.com) There he was, face down on the deck of his Skeeter, his agony evident in each inhale and exhale through the chilled February air blowing across Grand Lake.

Hank Cherry’s devastation after losing a fish in the final hours of the Bassmaster Classic is certainly one of the lasting images of the 2013 tournament season so far, but it’s not how he wants BassFans to remember his first go-around at the sport’s signature event.

“It was a wonderful experience and I’m going to use it as a driving force or a stepping stone to remember how close I was and how important it is to get back in that situation every year to have that shot,” he said.

In his mind and in reality, this season has evolved into way more than a lost giant on the final day at the Classic, where he finished 3rd. He’s proven he can bounce back from adversity and with three events remaining, he’s running away with the Elite Series Rookie of the Year chase against a pretty stout class of “rookies.”

In his second turn as a tour-level pro, Cherry has a different mindset now than he did when he fished the FLW Tour in 2007-08. He’s fishing more relaxed – solid sponsorship support helps on that front, he says – and his finishes are a direct result. This season, he’s missed just one check (Falcon Lake) and is in position (14th in Angler of the Year points) to make a run at another Classic berth and a spot in the postseason event.

Back At It

Six years ago, when Cherry started fishing the FLW Tour, he did it on his own dime. He had some modest success (two Top-10s), but he struggled to put consistent finishes together.

Lacking the sponsorship support necessary to continue, he backed away from the sport almost entirely after the 2008 season. Two years later, he won a Nitro boat at a Lake Norman Oakley Big Bass Tournament and he could feel the embers start to heat up inside. The itch to get back to the top level of the game was back.

He fished the Bassmaster Southern Opens in 2011, but finished no higher than 48th in any of the three derbies. He took another swing at the Southern Opens last year and connected in a big way, winning at Lewis Smith Lake and landing the Classic berth. He also finished 4th in points, which earned him an invitation to the Elite Series.

“After I won the Open, I had a little time to think, but not a lot of time to decide whether I was going to fish the Elites or not,” he said. “My wife and I had pretty much already made up our minds that if I made it and had the chance, I was going to do it and if I didn’t, I was going to regret it.”

It’s safe to say he has no regrets so far. He was fortunate enough to be signed this year by Livingston Lures, a new company on the hardbait scene, and that’s lifted a burden off his back.

“Since the season started with the Classic and everything that’s been going on, it’s been one straight roller-coaster ride,” he said. “I’ve had a pretty flawless year except for the second day at Falcon. I only had like 15 pounds and I should’ve had 30. It was just one of those days where they just didn’t come in.”

He said his previous tour experience, combined with his fishing pedigree that was shaped on the lakes around North Carolina, have helped him navigate this season with relative ease.

“It’s been all of my experiences fishing. I think the places that we’ve been being mostly new and with a lot of the guys not having prior knowledge, it’s kind of leveled the playing field,” he said. “I try not to ever get bigger than the moment and just realize what I’m there for and just enjoy it.

“I think earlier in my career I didn’t enjoy it as much because I was so concerned about the money, the money, the money and what you have. When you have a team and support in your corner, it’s a little bit easier to go do your job.”

He said he noticed a big swing in his mental approach when things started going his way at Grand Lake in February.

“I think it really switched for me on the first day of the Classic when I started catching them,” he said. “It just put the thought in my mind that I could do this. The biggest thing, though, was Livingston (Lures) coming on board and signing me and getting me to a point where if I don’t make a check at a tournament, I don’t have to worry about my family eating or the bills getting paid.

“When I fished the Tour, I fronted all the money so I was pressing a bit and then second-guessed a lot of my decisions. Now, I just put my head down and just fish with confidence. ”

Rookie In Name Only

The class of 2013 Elite Series rookies is a unique bunch. Among the nine rookies are a Forrest Wood Cup winner (Kevin Hawk), an FLW Tour winner (Jason Christie) and a U.S. Open winner (Clifford Pirch). Kelley Jaye, another rookie, is fishing both tours this season after fishing the FLW Tour in 2012.

Of the nine, only four really qualify as true newcomers to the top level of competition.

“It’s a pretty impressive rookie class when you go down the names,” Cherry said.

That’s why he’s relishing his position atop the ROY standings. He holds a 77-point advantage over Pirch after five events and a 79-point cushion over Christie, who’s 3rd.

“It’s been a goal from the beginning,” he said of winning ROY. “There are several good guys that are trying to get it, guys that I’ve known for a while and guys who are established. Honestly, it probably means a little more to me than it does to Jason (Christie) or Cliff (Pirch) because Cliff’s won a U.S. Open and Christie’s won a bunch. It would be the first big stamp for my career besides the Open win.”

Heading North

While his experience level is limited at the three remaining venues on the Elite Series schedule, Cherry is optimistic that he’ll be able to hold serve.

He’s never fished the upper Mississippi River, but from what he’s seen and read, it could play to his strengths. He fished two FLW Tour events at the Detroit River so Lake St. Clair won’t be a foreign body of water to him. The wild card could prove to be the penultimate tournament at the St. Lawrence River.

“I’ve never been to the St. Lawrence, but I have such a love and a passion for fishing up that way since I went to Champlain for the first time,” he said. “I don’t foresee it being an issue or being intimidated. I need to go up there with a strong game plan and not get too far out of the realm of what I do best.”

Day Four with Cherry at West Point Lake

James Overstreet

Photographer James Overstreet caught up with Hank Cherry on Day Four on West Point Lake. Cherry soon landed what would be the Carhartt Big Bass of the day with a weight of 5-15, so Overstreet stayed with him to see what Cherry had up his sleeve on this challenging body of water.

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Cherry’s Moment in 2013 Classic

Author: Brad Wiegmann |

Every lifetime there comes a moment. A moment in time you wish you could replay. That moment once gone will follow you forever.

Winners achieve greatness by working towards goals. For 2013 Bassmaster Classic Championship qualifier Hank Cherry it was a dream of a lifetime. It was a dream that he spent his life preparing for by fishing in tournaments every opportunity possible.

Cherry has had his ups and downs during his fishing career. He reflects on the past only to recognize how to achieve goals set for the future.

This year the highlight was winning the Bassmaster Bass Pro Shops Open on Smithville Lake. The low point occurred during the Classic when a big bass got off. It all happened so fast.

Over the years, Cherry has landed thousands of fish. Rarely does one get off when Cherry is pulling them in.

As the video played on the Bassmaster Classic stage of Cherry epic battle all he could do is sit down on the steps and watch. Cherry knew the outcome and probably replayed it over and over in his mind on the drive to the BOK Center in Tulsa.Bassmaster Classic Hank Cherry Copy

One can only imagine what Cherry was experiencing.

Crumbing to the floor of his boat, Cherry had two options. He could lay there in self pity having loss a big fish in the Classic or get up and make another cast.Bassmaster Classic day 3 weigh in

Everyone in the BOK Center looked stunned. They were afraid that Cherry would just lay there or get up and throw a fit. The crowd of 15,000 plus was silent.

Not surprisingly Cherry decided to get up and fire out his jerkbait hoping to catch another big bass. He had learned over the years of fishing in tournaments that things happen that he couldn’t control. This was one of those things.

It’s moments like these that shape and change an angler forever. Over the years a number of past winners of the Classic have experienced what Cherry experienced. Hopefully like them, Cherry will learn and use it as a learning experience.

Bassmaster Classic Hank Cherry