LENORE, W.Va. – Local professional fisherman, William Hensley, is preparing to fish in the Bass Masters Open Series this fall.
In 2011, when Hensley began tournament fishing in local fishing clubs, he was hooked. “I really enjoyed it. I loved the competition,” Hensley said.
In 2013 he decided to fish in the Bass Pro Masters Open Series as a co-angler.
A co-angler is a person that is not a professional tournament fisherman and does not own the boat. One of the requirements as a co-angler is that the angler must fish off the back of the boat. “I tried it to see if I liked that level of competition,” Hensley explained.
While co-angling at the Bass Pro Masters Open Series, Hensley befriended one of the professional fishermen who told him the steps he must take to become a professional tournament fisherman. “I did a lot of serious praying about it, and asked God to lead me in that direction if it was his will,” Hensley said.
The first step Hensley needed to take was to create a fishing proposal. “It is like a resume,” Hensley said.
“It list what you think you can do and fishing goals you have set for yourself,” Hensley explained.
Hensley said that preparing the proposal was the most difficult aspect. “It is hard coming up with something that no one else has done before,” Hensley said.
Hensley’s wife, Kim added, “He spent two years and several thousand hours working on his fishing proposal.”
When Hensley finished his proposal, he had to submit the proposal to different organizations to gain sponsorship. “My first sponsorship was Susan G. Komen West Virginia,” Hensley said. “It was something close to me,” Hensley said. “My mother- in-law is a 20 year breast cancer survivor,” Hensley continued.
“He wanted to do something to help others and raise money for screenings and awareness,” Kim added.
Hensley’s boat, a 2015 Nitro Z9, is a tribute to cancer survivors. The boat is completely wrapped with a sticker that promotes the theme: Faces of Fighters, and lists his various sponsors. Hensley’s other sponsors include: Motor Guide, The Great Outdoors, Mercury, Nitro, and Abraham and Ilderton. “I have really good sponsors. They are good to me,” Hensley said.
After Hensley acquired sponsors, he explained that everything began happening at an accelerated pace.
“It was like a whirlwind. It has been a blessing. God opened the doors. On Dec. 30, 2014, I picked my boat up. On Dec. 31, I was out on Yatesville Lake breaking it in,” Hensley said.
His wife Kim, laughed and said, “I didn’t go with him on that trip; too cold!” Kim accompanied Hensley on a trip shortly after that. “On Jan. 5, 2015, we went to Florida. It was much warmer there,” she said.
Since Jan. 2015, Hensley has fished in professional tournaments from Florida to the Great Lakes.
This fall, Hensley is scheduled to fish in the Bass Masters Open Series in Ohio and Georgia.
Hensley said his goal is to one day get an invitation to the Elite Series. “It would take one or two major sponsors to be able to do it financially. Right now, we are just looking forward to one day at a time and having fun,” Hensley said.
For more information, visit www.williamsonhensleyfishing.com.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)