|Matthew Southern, Joplin, was the recipient of the|
"Fish with Sheldon Collings" trip. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun
Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday's weather may have been a bit cool for many, but for one southwest Missouri man, the weather, and fishing, well, was just grand.
Matthew Southern, 26, Joplin, spent much of Friday, Oct. 9, on the waters of Grand Lake with local fishing professional Sheldon Collings.
Southern won the opportunity to fish with Collings, who fishes in the FLW tournaments, after wining a drawing held earlier this summer.
The drawing was part of a benefit Collings conducted for Bob Simon, a northwest Arkansas man who is suffering from congestive heart failure.
Southern won the right to the trip with the help of his father, Kevin, who helped sell tickets to the drawing.
Kevin Southern joked that he encouraged everyone who purchased the "chance" for the trip to write his son's name on their tickets.
When it was all said and done, the young man's name appeared in the drawing with 10 to 1 odds.
"Matt's anticipation [for the trip] was unreal," Kevin Southern said. "This was a big surprise for him. I think it was an invaluable experience.
"The experience was priceless."
In addition to spending the morning fishing with Collings, Southern also received a professional jersey which identical to the one worn by Collings during tournaments.
Southern also received an assortment of rods and tackle, provided by Collings sponsors, including FishTec lures.
Tom Cat Corner and Okie Smokie's BBQ, two of Collings local sponsors, provided snacks and lunch for the two anglers, and their fathers.
Southern joked that he had "something big" on his line during the trip, but it "spit the lure back out" before he could bring it into the bass boat.
Other fish caught during the outing proved too small to keep, so the Joplin man tossed them back into Grand Lake.
Collings said he was glad to sponsor the trip won by Southern.
"It was a new way to meet people," Collings said, adding that the fundraiser raised $2,500 for Simon's medical expenses.
Since the big one got away, Southern's record catch - caught on a trip with his father on a pond near Joplin - still stands. During that trip, he landed a 9 pound, 4 ounce bass fish.
Southern said Collings shared with him a variety of fishing tips, but he would not elaborate on what the pair talked about while on the water.
"It was top secret, classified," Southern said with a grin, but added he planned to implement some of the tips during upcoming trips with his father. "[The best thing] was just trying to catch them."
(Editor's note: this originally appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 13 issue of The Grove Sun)