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Holding all the cards

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By Chris Cannon

It was pretty much a life long dream for Brandon Card.

The 26-year old from Caryville made his name on the big stage of the Bassmaster Elite series this season, pulling down the most coveted award for rookie fisherman.

On Aug. 25, he was named the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year, an award Card says he’ll remember for a while.

“It’s pretty incredible,” he said. “That’s what all of the rookies shoot for at the first of the year, and this title will stay with me for the rest of my career. It’s definitely going to help out with the sponsors and the notoriety.”

Card bested nine other rookies with a total of 479 points. With the points based on placing, Card needed all he could to outlast Cliff Prince of Palatka, Fla.

He only trailed Prince, or any other rookie for that matter, once on the season, which came following the first competition of the season. However, having to watch from the shore on Aug. 25 didn’t settle the nerves.

Card took top honors, as both he and Prince qualified for the 2013 Bassmaster Elite series.

For Card, it’s a childhood dream come true. As a child, he and his brother Jordan would record the Bassmasters on VHS. To them, it was studying for a future career.

“We still have some of those,” he said. “We would play them and watch them all the time to study what they were doing. It’s pretty incredible that I’m on it now…it’s kind of like a full circle experience.”

“I never doubted that I could do it. I just kept working at it and working at it. Here I am today.”

His brother is also working at it. Jordan Card is also trying to qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series. According to Card, a top five finish in the Bassmaster Open is needed.

Currently, Jordan Card sits in eighteenth place in the Southern Open with one tournament left. According to the Rookie of the Year, a top 10 finish should secure him a spot in the Elite Series.

With a father that loved fishing, Card said he’d been fishing since they young age of two. Bluegill was where he got his start, but Card and his brother soon changed that fortune.

The two got their tournament fishing careers started together when Card was only 14. With his brother purchasing a bass boat, they fished in local tournaments.

“That’s sort of when we got serious about it and started working our way up the ranks,” Card said.

However, his big jump was at the University of Kentucky. Card is the first-ever collegiate bass fisher in the Bassmaster Elite Series. It wasn’t like he didn’t have a long list of credentials for the position.

During his career as a Wildcat, he competed in six national championships events. Those events included the 2006, 2007 and 2009 Boat U.S. National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championships, and the 2008 and 2009 Under Armour College Bass Championships. He won the national championship in the 2007 Ultimate Match Fishing College Edition on Oneida Lake in New York.

For Card, however, it all came down to where he grew up. With so many lakes within an hour drive, he said that the one in his own back yard was the on that pushed him the most.

“I think that living in Campbell County, it was actually beneficial,” he said. “I got to fish on Norris Lake all the time. Norris is a good lake, but it’s also a challenging lake. It can be real difficult at times. I got to learn a whole lot there, as how to catch them when it’s easy and how to catch them when it’s tough.”