Fitzpatrick finished 17 overall with a three-day total of 39 pounds, 15 ounces, and collected a check for $12,900 for his efforts in bass fishing's biggest tournament. He got off to a great start in the star-studded event, boating a five-fish limit that weighed 18 pounds and put him in fifth place at the end of the first day of competition.
The Waukon, Iowa, resident fished with Cabela's XML Ti casting rods and Cabela's Prodigy casting reels during the tournament. He used only two different lures: a quarter-ounce Terminator Double Willow spinnerbait and a Yamamoto Flappin' Hog soft-plastic bait.
Fitzpatrick has 18 years of tournament-fishing experience. He has worked at Cabela's for seven years.
"Dean Jones, a former manager in (Cabela's) fishing department, was looking for people who knew hunting and fishing and he knew me from tournament fishing," Fitzpatrick said. "Since I started working at Cabela's, I've become more confident and have learned a lot about fishing. I used to be a quiet guy. Working at Cabela's has really helped me open up to people. We hold a lot of mentor meetings, and I've done seminars in the store. I used to turn red and stutter when I had to speak in public, but I felt really comfortable with all the attention from the media and the fans at the Classic."
Fitzpatrick was one of 51 anglers who qualified to compete in bass fishing's most prestigious tournament. He did so by winning the Northern Division championship of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation championship in Kansas in November. Fitzpatrick was one of six Classic qualifiers from the Federation Nation, a grass-roots collection of B.A.S.S. anglers in state and local clubs in 47 United States and six foreign countries.
Veteran tournament angler Skeet Reese won the Bassmaster Classic title with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 13 ounces, to claim the top prize of $500,000.
Chuck Smock (308) 255-2926