Meet the "new" guy...
B.A.S.S. Elite Series Rookie of the Year Brent Ehrler
After 10 years fishing the FLW Tour, winning the Forrest Wood Cup and cashing a lot of checks, the Redlands, Calif., native made the switch to the B.A.S.S. Elite Series after qualifying for the tour via the 2014 Northern Opens. His mission was simple: make the 2016 Bassmaster Classic. In doing so, Ehrler picked up another piece of hardware and added to his already impressive professional resume by winning the 2015 B.A.S.S. Elite Series Rookie of the Year Award.
“What Brent’s accomplished in such a short career is truly remarkable,” said Ranger Boats President Randy Hopper. “He’s a phenomenal angler and is a tremendous representative for the sport and the Ranger brand. We couldn’t be more proud of his continued success and know there’s even bigger things on the horizon.”
Ehrler finished 2015 with a seventh-place finish in the Angler of the Year standings and four Top-20 finishes. With his “rookie” season behind him, Ehrler recently took the time to look back on his first Elite Series season with Ranger Boats’ Josh Ward.
JW: How does it feel win the B.A.S.S. Elite Series Rookie of the Year Award and to be considered a “rookie” again after all your years as a professional angler?
BE: It feels great to win and I’m proud of what I accomplished this year. Around the industry, there were a lot of expectations on me coming into the season, but none higher than the expectations I had for myself, especially since I have 10 years of professional experience under my belt. If I hadn’t won the award then it would mean I wasn’t meeting my own expectations. The award is a result of me fishing to the level I’m capable of and meeting the goals I set out for myself before the season began.
JW: Some professional sports leagues are known for their good-natured hazing of rookies. Since you were technically a rookie on the Elite Series this year did you deal with any hazing – have to carry anyone’s tackle bags or things like that?
BE: (Laughing) No, I wasn’t hazed. They took it easy on me, I guess. I was lucky in that I already knew a lot of these guys from Major League Fishing and other events. I think even though I was a rookie, people on the tour didn’t consider me new. I guess I was lucky that way.
JW: As a lifelong fan of professional bass fishing and a professional angler, how does it feel to know the next fish you weigh in will be at a Bassmaster Classic?
BE: It’s absolutely huge to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have success on a number of other tours and formats against some of the best pros in the world. As a competitor though, I knew my career wouldn’t be complete if I never fished a Bassmaster Classic. Now I’ve qualified for one and it’s a major steppingstone for me. My next goal is to win one. I can’t wait to get there and walk across that stage.
JW: Only five professional anglers have won both the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic. Four of the five are Ranger Pros (Luke Clausen, George Cochran, David Fritts and Dion Hibdon). Does that add any pressure?
BE: Just the other day I thought about how few people have won both, but I didn’t know exactly how many and that so many of them were Ranger Pros, too. Four out of five is pretty good! It would be awesome to win both. It’s a dream of mine. But whatever pressure is there isn’t magnified because of the previous successes of my fellow Ranger Pros. But it would be great to join their club.
JW: A year on the Elite Series is a marathon capable of stressing anglers mentally and physically, while the schedule can be even more brutal to your gear. Can you tell us how important your boat/motor combination is to that success?
BE: Where I’m lucky is that I’ve fished out of a Ranger since 2004. I know what to expect and I expect it to be the best-built, best-performing boat in the field. I’ve got 11 years on board a Ranger – it’s my office – and if I am ever with a friend on board another brand of boat, things just don’t feel right. Once you’ve had the stability and performance of a Ranger, it’s hard to be comfortable in something else. I can find everything I need in my boat with my eyes closed. The boat is configured so intuitively and it gets me to the fish and back to weigh in without fail. That’s confidence you can’t replace.
Brent Ehrler: Career Highlights
2006 Forrest Wood Cup Champion
2-time FLW Tour Angler of the Year Runner Up
9 Forrest Wood Cup Appearances
33 Top-10 FLW Tour Finishes
2015 B.A.S.S. Elite Series Rookie of the Year
More than $2.3 million in career earnings