On a warm August morning, hours before sunlight would pierce through the light fog, Gerald was jolted out of his slumber.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, his alarm rang louder and louder. He rolled over to look at the time—4:30 in the morning.
But this was no ordinary morning; this was the day he had been waiting for his entire life. This was the first day of the Bassmaster Classic, the super bowl of competitive bass fishing. Gerald, at the ripe age of 22, felt like he had been dreaming of this moment for as long as he could remember. That dream was there when he caught his first bass alongside his late grandfather, when he reigned champion in his local youth tournament, and when Gerald lived paycheck to paycheck for years, hoping to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series. The work had been done, but now it was time for him to take what he came for, that shiny silver trophy that so few have been able to hold.
After getting dressed in what felt like a minute, he was on his way to the quiet launch ramp, contemplating where he should start his day. His practice was a roller coaster of confidence, with some days proving he had the winning pattern and others leaving him questioning if he had a chance. He knew it was going to take a huge weight and the competitive field worried Gerald. The next hour went by in a blur. The boat was launched, staged, and called for takeoff. It was time to start the day.
After a long boat ride up a narrow portion of creek far away from other anglers, Gerald made his first cast, ready to meet his destiny.