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“May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it. “
Lance Baker of Huxley is living his dream.
When Lance was 6 years old, he started on his dream. It all began with his security blanket and his dad, a professional fishing guide on the Tennessee River, in a boat.
“I would get in the boat, early in the morning, with my dad,” tells Baker. “My dad was a guide on that river for 35 years, and still is. I would get my blanket and hunker down in the boat. I grew up on that great Tennessee River and I still love going back there to fish today.”
Baker has worked hard over the years to acquire his status in the fishing world.
He was born and raised in east Tennessee. A family move to Iowa transplanted him to Newton in 1996 when his step-dad, a Maytag executive, was transferred. Baker decided to study telecommunications at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, entered the communications field in 2004 and quickly landed his current position with Huxley Communications. Now married and the father of two daughters, his family calls Huxley their home.
And, he had the opportunity to become the Bass Pro Fisherman in the Altoona location.
He tells of growing up on the Tennessee River and how his life evolved around fishing.
“How crazy that is,” he talks about that time in his life. “A lot of kids were involved in sports and I tried them all, but I just wasn’t big enough to play sports, so I fished and studied. I spent all my free time fishing with my dad. He taught me how to read the water and tie hooks. That time in my life also taught me how, at a young age, to adapt to different personalities and how to accommodate different types of people when I was with my dad as he guided his clients on the river.”
Baker has carried those life lessons he learned on the Tennessee River to his current life. He owns the status and title of Professional Angler and Bass Pro Shops Pro Staffer. He is currently working his way through the competition of the high-profile Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Fishing Tour.
“There are two types of fishing,” he explains. “Recreational fishing where you go, fish and relax; and 100 percent competition, a drive to me, no different than being on the football field competing. They are both competition and I love the rush of fishing competitively.”
Baker admits that the travel involved in professional fishing is exhausting, being up every morning at 4:30 a.m., standing up fishing for 8 to 10 hours a day, and when the physical end of competition catches up, the mental exhaustion is soon to kick in as well.
Dreaming of becoming a professional fisherman and actually accomplishing that dream are miles and years apart. How did it all begin?
“When we moved to Iowa in 1996, I met Bill Heverly,” tells Baker. “I was 18 years old and really into fishing. I became friends with Bill, who grew up fishing small tournaments here in Iowa and I started to tag along with him. We did local level competitions for about 10 years. Here in Iowa, it wasn’t about the money you could win, but more about the competition.”
In 2010, Baker started fishing in the Bass Circuit, the Iowa Premier Bass Competition. He was able to land some sponsors and eventually approached Bass Pro for a position.
This, according to Baker, is where it all really began.
“In 2011 I became one of two local Bass Pro fishermen,” he said. “Kary Ray is the other one. We partnered up and for two years we fished the Mississippi River. He taught me a lot in one year. He told me that I had what it takes to make it work. So we became co-anglers in competition together. That allowed me to fish behind some really good guys, who taught me so much.”
Most competitions are three to four days in length. They involve catching and keeping the five biggest fish each day. They are weighed at the end of each day and then released. The fisherman with the biggest weight total wins. Simple enough? Maybe not so simple as it sounds.
“We have to follow the fish to where they go,” Baker tells. “The Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) is for bass fishing competition. All the fish that we catch are eventually released. Finding them means following the fish and being able to see where they are under the water. In the summer they go deep where the oxygen is better – the fish all congregate near structures and they draw in the predator fish. Bass are the predator fish.”
Baker explained that there are three levels in the FLW, which involve five separate fishing competition events. You have to keep winning and advancing to qualify for the FLW Tour in hopes of finishing in the top 10.
Over the past four years, Baker has done just that.
“Fishing competitively is pretty much like learning to crawl before you walk,” he commented.
In 2016, Baker will begin the next level of fishing competition. He sites the flexibility of his employer, Huxley Communications, and his sponsors Bass Pro, Daiwa, Picasso, Lowrance, Berkley and Chase, that help with entry fees.
“I have had a dream of doing this, and I am pursuing it,” said Baker. “I love working with people and being around people. I want my family and my community to know that I am always there for them. They have always been here for me and now I want to be there for them.”
“Starting on the right path to a dream brings about loyalty of people to help fulfill that dream,” he said. “My dad started me on that path and he has been the one that has impacted my life and my accomplishments.”
If fishing is your passion, for either relaxation or competition, be sure to keep an eye on our local pro. He is quickly making his way up through the ranks to capture his dream.
He may be a very soft-spoken guy, with a bit of a southern twang in his voice, but he is one of the most aggressive fishermen in Story County.
“I am here to give back,” he added. “I am happy to help out by doing seminars, helping with charity fundraising events, making Bass Pro Shops appearances – just give me a call.”