CLASSIC WINNER ’93 CRANKED HIS WAY TO HOF CAREER
David Fritts’ interest in fishing started early. His aunt, Becky Sowers, noticed that interest and nurtured it by taking him fishing more than anybody. They fished for carp and catfish. It was during a church outing in his home state of North Carolina, on High Rock Lake, when David, about 13, caught his first bass. His Sunday school teacher had given him a lure, and he threw it and hooked a 5-pound bass. David has said that this first bass fought hard, different from anything he had caught before, and from that moment on, he was hooked. All he wanted to do was bass fish, and it changed his life. Aunt Becky was not a bass angler, so young David set it upon himself to learn everything he could. From that first success, he loved throwing crankbaits, and David taught himself all aspects of working those lures: feeling the vibration when retrieving, and sensing when a fish would “turn” on the bait before biting.
Although mostly self-taught, he did have one significant mentor along the way. When he got out of high school, he joined the South Lexington Bassmasters. They held their club tournaments on High Rock Lake. David would usually find another member to fish with because all he had was a 10-foot jon boat. He also had a Lew’s reel and a Fenwick Lunkerstik, the best rod he could afford. He added a Lew’s Speed Stick and another Lew’s reel and felt like he was ready to move up. That's
when John Wayne Leonard took David under his wing- probably the best fisherman in the club. He liked structure fishing and fishing away from the bank, and this was interesting to David who up until then had never done that. He showed David how to use the old flashers and how to find deeper spots to fish, which really developed his skills for offshore cranking.
David really worked on his crank bait fishing to the point where his ability to catch fish with crankbaits earned him the knick-name “Crankbait King”. But if he was going to win tournaments, he knew he would have to learn other ways of
fishing, really learn. He had to work on fine tuning techniques and skills, and it took about five to seven years before he could consistently catch bass on something other than a crankbait. Meanwhile, he did what he had done since he was 16- worked for his dad in a tire shop to save money. First, he got an old car, then the jon boat with its 10 hp motor. Every chance he had he would be on High Rock Lake honing his skills, skills that have taken him a long way in this industry.
Fritts has fished in professional tournaments about 35 years, piling up quite the track record. His combined winnings on the B.A.S.S. and FLW tours is over $2.3 million, with 60 top 10 finishes and 11 regular-season victories. He’s one of only five pros- joined with Hite, Hibdon, Cochran and
Clausen- who have won both the FLW Championship and Bassmaster Classic, and he has also won Bassmaster Angler of the Year in 1994 and Red Man Angler of the Year. Fritts crowning achievement was his 1993 Bassmaster Classic win on Lake Logan Martin in Alabama, with a 3-day catch of 48-6. It should not come as any surprise that the key to this win was precision casting with crankbaits. He has fished the Classic six times. At age 62, he’s still fishing the Elite Series. He is still one of the best deep cranking angler ever, and he put this to great use when leading the 2018 USA Bass team to a gold medal finish in the World Championship held on Lake Cuchillo, Mexico. His expertise is still sought after by lure designers all over the world.