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A Passion for Bass
JT Bagwell learned everything he knows about fishing from his hero, his grandfather. His grandparents fished constantly, and he spent so much time with them that loving fishing came naturally to him. JT followed his grandfather around, mimicking his movements and listening to his advice. He absorbed everything, except when it came to his fish of choice. His grandparents loved fishing for catfish. JT’s fish of choice was bass.
Bass is all JT ever wanted to catch. He enjoyed casting, reeling, and trying to figure out the puzzle of catching them. Although he loved the sport, JT never planned to make a career out of it. He aspired to be a police officer or firefighter, but after a significant shoulder injury, he was unable to pass the physical exams. While watching Bassmasters with his grandmother one day, he made the comment that he would do well on the show. She told him to “quit being a chicken and try it.” JT won the second tournament he participated in and continued winning tournaments for the next 15 years.
JT’s sons love fishing as well, although with their current involvement in other sports, it’s taken a backseat. His sons are involved in baseball, track, and cross country. “It’s fun hanging out with them and helping them get better at what they're interested in,” JT says. “Even though I did not run track, I was an athlete, and I'm competitive. I teach them how to take advantage of different movements and to be the best at what they do.” JT and his sons still fish on a regular basis. He still catches more fish than they do. He will not let them beat him. He wants them to work for it and earn it.
Outside of what he dedicates to his sons, JT spends most of his time educating people on the fishing industry. He uses social media and in-person events, and speaks at high schools to help build confidence within their fishing teams. Mentoring is JT’s current trajectory. “When someone reaches out and asks a question, I try to guide them through whatever it is they're doing,” he says. “When they are successful because of what I taught them and reach back out to share their experience, it’s super cool, especially if it’s a kid.” JT finds helping others more enjoyable than competing, and will remain on the path of mentorship for both youth and adults.
Winning the Exelon Fishing for a Cure charity event
Spending time on the beach with family and deer hunting
Lake Erie or Ontario
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