“Bassmaster Classic Champion, David Dudley, can I help you?”
5 year old Dudley would answer the telephone. Not everyone knows what they were born to do, but David always knew what made his heart come alive. The science, the math, the art of what happens under the water captured his mind and heart as a small boy.
Football, basketball, and baseball, man verses man, fed and nurtured his competitive nature but nothing could keep his mind off of fishing. Man verses nature, seemed to hold a special appeal for him, as the hunt for anything in season would draw him out of bed in the morning before school.
He began fishing local tournaments with his father every weekend and as a teen would put on roofs to earn the entry fees to enter on his own. He made the final trade of his bat and glove for rod and reel without hesitation when he found himself being kicked off the baseball team for skipping practice to fish a tournament.
The road to follow your dreams is hard, narrow, and requires sacrifice. The baseball team was not the only thing he loved that he had to say goodbye to. It may seem cute at 5 to want to be a fisherman as a career choice, but at 18 when all your friends are headed off to college, you’re not exactly looking so cute anymore; especially to the parents of the girls you fall for along the way.
His early success was some consolation for the snickers and scorning of the doubters he encountered.
At 19, he was the youngest ever to win a Bassmaster tournament, and the youngest ever to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.
He moved to the Outer Banks of NC to start a charter business. When he wasn’t fishing tournaments, he was growing an ever increasing passion for salt water fishing. When the FLW tour was established Dave, he jumped at the opportunity to fish both that, and the Bassmaster tour. His consistent finishes near the top built his reputation as a true contender.
In 2001, he took home second on Lake St. Clair in Michigan and in 2002, he took first place and the coveted prize of $700,000 at the Ranger M1, followed by winning the 2003 FLW Tour Championship for $500,000.
By 2008, he took home his first of three Angler of the Year titles.
Then in 2009 he took home the UMF Championship belt to add to his collection of trophies. In 2011 he took home his second Angler of the Year title and another check for $100,000. In 2012, Dudley won two of the six FLW Tour major events (Beaver Lake, AR and Lake Champlain, NY) on the way to becoming the first angler to win back to back AOY awards. His third such title enabled him to join Clark Wendlandt as the only two anglers to win the title three times.
Dudley, now 46, lives back in his home town of Lynchburg, VA with his five children.