Teen trying out professional fishing

Published 11:43 am Thursday, July 18, 2019

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ADVANCE – In just two tournaments, Chase Hilton is ranked 70th out of 230 in the FLW fishing league standings in his division.

The four-pound lunker he hauled out of High Rock Lake helped with that ranking.

At age 16, he is one of the youngest fishermen competing professionally. And he’s pulled in a 10 lb. 4 oz. largemouth bass from a Davie County lake, as well.

Pretty good for a guy who wouldn’t even touch a worm on his first fishing trip. To his credit, he was only 3 at the time.

A regular customer at the Clemmons Bait Shop, someone there suggested he try his hand at professional fishing, said his dad, Steve Hilton. “He took them seriously.”

He fishes with an adult competitor, called a co-angler.

“I’m addicted to it,” Chase said. “I can’t stop.”

He has a jon boat he fishes from, and is quick to take a trip to a local pond. “I go almost every day. I walk up to the pond.”

He remembers that first fishing trip with his grandfather at age 3. “I caught a little bass.”

On tournament days, they’re on the water at 6 a.m. and come in at 2. He caught the High Rock bass just before the boat was to head back.

“It’s nerve wracking at first, and it’s stressful at the end of the day if you don’t have any fish in the live well,” Chase said.

He still doesn’t use the worms – unless they’re artificial.

“I’m very confident with artificials,” he said. “I know I’m going to catch a bass with what I use.”

He has a few sponsors, like lure maker Yenom, but none to pay the whole way. He also likes Googan baits.

“The guys involved in it see him as the up and coming in the sport,” his father said, “so they really try to help him.”

“I want to thank my fishing buddy Jimmy Dull,” Chase said. “He’s an old timer, and he’s given me a lot of my stuff.”

Yes, fishing at this level is expensive. Chase experiments with forming some of his own lures, many melted down from broken ones. He shows one of his favorites, which “looks like a mac crawdad.”

He lives here with his parents, Steve and Candy, and sisters Allie and Aria.