Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 11/24/2017

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos courtesy of Roy Hawk - U.S. Open photo courtesy of WON Bass

Lake Havasu City, AZ – For fans of tournament bass fishing, Roy Hawk has been a familiar name for many years.  The Arizona angler fished the Bassmaster Western Opens and Invitationals between 1997 and 2005, and has a total of 90 FLW events under his belt including two seasons at the FLW Tour level in 2010 and 2011.  

Over the last three seasons, Hawk has been on a serious roll.   He qualified for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup through the Costa Series Western Division.  That same year he won the WON BASS U.S. Open on Lake Mead by nearly two pounds.  

In 2016, Hawk took the Angler Of the Year title in the FLW Costa Series Western Division with finishes of 10th place on Lake Shasta, 2nd place on Clear Lake, and 3rd place on the California Delta.   

He returned to B.A.S.S. in 2017 and fished the Bassmaster Central Opens.  With finishes of 4th place on Table Rock Lake, 58th place on the Sabine River, and 7th place on Grand Lake, Hawk edged Harvey Horne for the Central Open Points title and also earned an invitation to fish on the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series.     

With a U.S. Open victory, Costa Series points title, two Forrest Wood Cup appearances, and Bassmaster Central Open points title since 2015, Hawk has decided to make the jump to the Elite Series this upcoming season.  

“It was a tough decision for sure, but we prayed about it and my wife is on board with the whole thing,” explained Hawk.  “I’m kind of getting a little bit later on in my career, and fishing the Elite Series is something that I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m definitely excited about the opportunity.”  

One thing that won’t be an issue for Hawk is the demanding Elite Series schedule.  He estimates that he fished roughly 40 tournaments over the past year including the Costas, Bassmaster Opens, U.S. Open, and team tournaments.  He has been a full-time tournament angler since August of 2007, relying primarily on his tournament winnings to support his family.

“I pretty much just catch bass and turn them into cash,” Hawk explained.  “I haven’t had any major sponsors until the last couple years.”  

The combination of cashing checks while simultaneously garnering sponsorship dollars is a delicate dance that Hawk will have to master this upcoming season.  “At the level I’ve been fishing, I can live off my winnings.  I can go out and fish for the win all the time.  As long as I have those high spots, I can overcome the lows and I can survive as a fisherman,” he explained.  

“On the Elite Series, it’s a whole different deal because it’s all about consistency.  There’s basically a 50% payback on the Elite Series, so it’s all about getting checks.  If you fish well, you’re going to cash enough checks along the way to break even and your earnings are going to come through sponsors.   It’s a totally different mentality and a different rhythm on the Elite Series.”    

Hawk said that one of the main driving forces behind fishing the Opens in 2017 was the allure of fishing in the Bassmaster Classic.  “I really fished the Central Opens this past year because I wanted to have a shot at winning a tournament and making the Bassmaster Classic,” he stated.  “The Classic is the deal.  I’ve never been and I’ve always wanted to go, so that’s the real carrot out there for me.  If you want to win big money, you have to fish big tournaments and the Classic and Forrest Wood Cup are the two biggest chances you can have.”   

The biggest drawback about fishing the Elite Series in 2018 is the fact that he will not be able to travel and fish with his son, Sunny Hawk, who has traveled with him for the past four seasons on the FLW Costa Series Western Division.  Sunny won the Forrest Wood Cup co-angler championship in 2015, and has competed on the boater side at the Costa Series for the past two seasons.   

“I have all my eggs in one basket now, so that will be different,” concluded Hawk.  “I have to pay somewhere around $20,000 before I even make a single cast, but my entire family and all my friends are stoked. After I made the Elite Series, I was shocked at how many people hit me up on Facebook and sent me messages.  Making the Elite Series is huge, so it was cool to see the reaction.”