by Dave Landahl
Hank Cherry has been a regular on the Bassmaster Elite Series scene since he took Rookie of the Year honors and won the Bassmaster All-Star event in 2014. He's competed in Bassmaster Classics and has several Top 10 finishes. A solid stick for sure.
So, what gets this Abu Garcia pro up each day to hit the road and make those long trips away from home? Is it the money, fame or glory? There is always a little of that buried in a competitor somewhere, but in Cherry's case, it's about the love of the game.
"All I've ever wanted to do was fish," said Cherry. "I feel this is what I was put on the earth for. It's my calling. I love fishing."
His parents didn't share the same enthusiasm for his calling when he was younger, according to Hank.
"I was a pretty great baseball player when I was younger," said Cherry. "My parents wanted me to pursue that, but I knew it was fishing for me.
"On Sunday mornings there would be a fight for what was on the TV. We only had one set growing up, and I wanted to watch The Fishin' Hole, Bill Dance and the Bassmasters.
"My parents just didn't get the drive I had inside to be an angler. They didn't think it was a viable way to make a living."
Cherry took that doubt and fed off it to help propel him into the professional ranks of bass fishing.
"I feel like I've done this the right way," said Cherry. "I've worked hard to achieve where I am at. Every time somebody doubted me or said 'you can't do it', well, it just made me work harder for my goal.
"I'd like to think I represent what you can achieve as a pro angler. Sure, not everyone can be a VanDam, but I hope I am an inspiration to those who want to go for it. I hope they know it can be done."
So, does Cherry need to compete to have joy in fishing? Not really.
"I've always competed," said Cherry. "I like to compete. Whether it's at the Bassmaster Classic or at a farm pond, I like to do well. But I don't to compete to enjoy fishing.
"I get just as giddy catching an 8-pound bass fishing a pond or in a tournament. I just love it so much. I get just as excited and giddy, because it's fishing."
Pro fishing has been good to Cherry.
"Thanks to what I do as a profession, my family has been able to experience a lot," said Cherry. "My family gets to travel all over. We didn't have that when I was a kid.
"Fishing has provided a good income for my family and some amazing friendships. I love it.
"For me, my end game is to provide a good life for my family and, of course, to win either Angler of the Year or the Bassmaster Classic."