In 40 years, Justin Kerr has fished exactly one B.A.S.S. Nation Regional.
It was the Western Regional held last fall on Lake Mead where he placed second. That qualified him for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Pickwick Lake later that winter, where he finished third and earned a berth in the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.
Kerr finished fourth in that Classic last week on Lake Ray Roberts and entered Championship Sunday in second with a legitimate chance to become the first Nation qualifier to win the event since Bryan Kerchal did it way back in 1994.
Such is the nature of the B.A.S.S. Nation.
It provides opportunities for anglers who otherwise might never have had them.
“It was a special thing for me,” said Kerr, an Arizona resident who turned 40 last month. “For the Nation to be represented that way is an awesome deal. It shows that people like me — people that don’t get the opportunity to fish the Elites or go off on tour because of financial or personal reasons — can still have a chance to compete in the Classic.
“It was a pretty humbling experience for sure.”
A different kind of pro
In many ways, Kerr isn’t the typical “every man” type of fisherman who competes annually in B.A.S.S. Nation events. Every year when it’s time to file his income taxes, he lists “pro fisherman” as his occupation because he earns most of his income on the water.
But unlike other full-time pros who focus their efforts on top nationwide trails like the Bassmaster Elite Series or the Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens, Kerr has spent most of his time fishing out West. He’s won some major events — like the 2008 U.S. Open and the 2015 California Open — but he supplements his earnings with any team or jackpot tournament he can find.