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Bold Stories with Mercury Pro Team Member Chase Parsons

At the heart of this success story is a hunger for competition and a thirst for giving back

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When Mercury Pro Team member and tournament walleye angler Chase Parsons was 8 years old, he reeled in his first really big fish. It was an experience he’ll never forget. The excitement … palpable. And when all was said and done – when the creature on the other end of the line broke the surface of the water with no fight left to give – Chase was face to face with his prize. A 35-pound carp. Sure, it was ugly, but in the eyes of the young angler, it was the most glorious fish he had ever seen.

So glorious, in fact, that to celebrate his victory, Chase’s parents had the creature mounted. Many of you may be laughing at the idea of mounting a fish largely considered invasive. But to see this fish merely through the crude lens of its species is missing the point altogether. A point that Chase understood all those years ago and still understands today. That when it comes to the things that cause the heart to beat faster and adrenaline to course through the veins, there is little else in this world that delivers the pound-for-pound thrill of landing a trophy fish. Even when that fish is an entirely ordinary carp. 

A Healthy Regard for Competition

This attitude toward adversity speaks volumes about what makes Chase Parsons tick. Quite simply, he thrives on a good challenge. It appeals to his innate love of competition. The excitement of hooking a big fish and the rush that comes with it is something that taps deep into Chase’s DNA. It’s something that was with him the day he caught that monster carp, and it was with him on Lake Oahe in South Dakota in 2011. Only at the end of those three days, he had caught 15 walleyes for 58 pounds and a National Guard FLW Walleye Tour win.

Considering that he grew up around two of walleye fishing’s living legends – his father, Gary Parsons, and his uncle, Keith Kavajecz – it’s not entirely surprising that Chase would be hardwired for competition. After all, growing up, he would spend his summers traveling the Midwest with his dad and uncle as they competed in tournaments, learning all kinds of tricks along the way.

“Being around my dad and uncle certainly had its advantages. I was exposed to things other kids my age interested in fishing simply weren’t, Chase said. I learned the fundamentals – like how to maneuver a boat in big waves to gain position. In tournament angling, there’s so much more going on than simply hooking a fish on the end of your line.”

Tempering Tenacity with Humility

While Chase learned a lot about what it takes to win from his dad and uncle, he was also raised to be humble. Neither of his mentors felt that ego had any place in professional angling or in life, and they made sure that Chase understood the logic in that perspective. “To be honest,” Chase confesses, “I never saw my dad and Keith as celebrities. They were just dad and Uncle Keith. Two regular guys who went to work each day. That work just happened to be as professional fishermen.”

Combining his dad’s and uncle’s “roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-after-it” work ethic with good old-fashioned family values like humility served Chase well as he worked to find his own place in the world. That involved figuring out just what made him tick and in which direction he wanted to channel his competitive nature.

You may be surprised to learn that wasn’t in fishing initially. No, the young Chase was far more interested in pursuing his passion for golf. And he was darned good at it, too. Not only did he play on the varsity team throughout his high school career, but he was also the team’s top player all four years. After graduating, Chase attended the prestigious San Diego Golf Academy, where he carried the second best handicap in the school’s history.

But it was a nagging shoulder injury that caused Chase to reconsider his tenure as a golfer. While he was home for the holidays after that first, and what would ultimately be his only, semester at the academy, Chase had a life-changing heart-to-heart with his father. That’s when he made the decision to pursue a career as a pro angler.

Once his mind was made up, it took nearly no time at all for Chase to find his purpose, redirecting his focus from the greens to the water.

At only 19 years of age, Chase jumped right into the Professional Walleye Trail, finishing in second place at the PWT Championship – missing first by little more than a pound.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

While a desire to win is important in competitive angling, there’s more to it than that. There’s a whole lot of training and strategy. And sometimes that strategy can get pretty creative.  

Take Chase’s first big national-level win in 2011. He did something entirely unexpected and unconventional in the world of walleye fishing. By trolling bass spinnerbaits, he and two of his practice partners, Tom Kemos and Keith Kavajecz, swept the tournament, taking the top three spots in the FLW Walleye Tour.

The decision to improvise in this way is indicative of Chase’s on-the-fly resourcefulness. He loves to keep things exciting, pushing the envelope and trying unorthodox ways to catch fish. He’s never one to shy away from exploring new techniques that might give him and his fishing partners an edge over the competition. 

It’s Hard to Keep a Secret When You Have a TV Show

An interesting thing happened after that win on Lake Oahe. Instead of keeping the spinnerbait program to himself and his tournament partners, Chase broadcast it, sharing it with viewers on The Next Bite, the show he co-hosts with Kory Sprengel, Tom Kemos, Jason Przekurat and his dad, Gary Parsons, on the Discovery Channel.

“Airing this on the show was a no-brainer. When it comes to stuff like this, the team agrees that we have a responsibility to our fans to share it with them. It’s what the show is all about, after all,” explains Chase.

It also taps into Chase’s desire to give back to the sport he both loves and that has been so good to him. He’s been known to give kids in his neighborhood fishing rods, or show them new ways to tie a knot or catch panfish. Doing these things also satisfies another one of his goals: getting kids outside and away from all the electronics.

“There’s a time and place for video games, but fishing is something you can do your entire life, so if I can play a role in getting kids interested, I’m going to do it,” offers Chase. 

What Comes Next?

For someone as competitive as Chase, a completely reasonable question to ask is, what comes next? Is there a tournament he has his eyes on? A particular itch begging to be scratched?

For the future of The Next Bite, Chase and his fellow co-hosts are always looking for ways to attract people to fishing and help them catch more fish. They’re also committed to finding new ways to connect with a younger audience, like developing content for their growing YouTube channel.  

As for his angling career, there is one goal that has eluded him: winning the angler of the year in a major circuit. While he’s been runner-up three times, the top prize has been just out of his reach, and he’s awfully darned serious about remedying that while competing on the National Walleye Tour.

All of us at Mercury are pulling for Chase to conquer his goal of bringing home walleye fishing’s most prestigious title. Will this be the year his trolling, jigging and casting skills eclipse all others in the sport? We’ll all just have to wait and see how things play out. But one thing is for sure, when he does win it, he’ll have to find a new itch to scratch.

You can catch The Next Bite on the Discovery Channel, and YouTube. You can also follow Chase on Facebook and Instagram.

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