Opens profile: DeMarion pays his dues 

Destin DeMarion of Grove City, Pa., has certainly paid his dues. The 30-year-old angler has competed in 44 Bassmaster Open tournaments since signing on to fish the Northern Opens as a co-angler in 2011. He fished the pro side of the Eastern Opens in 2019 and finished second in the AOY standings. You can definitely look forward to seeing DeMarion fishing as an Elite Series angler in 2020. 

DeMarion fished his first 31 Open tournaments as a co-angler. He credits these experiences for teaching him to become the well-rounded angler he is today.

“Fishing as a co-angler is really a great way to learn,” DeMarion said. “You go to lakes all over the country and learn so much from your pro partners. Everybody does something different, so you learn plenty of different ways to catch bass. You are also able to meet a lot of great people through fishing the Opens. Many of the people I’ve fished with are some of my best friends now.”

As a tad growing up in Grove City, DeMarion lived with his mother Michele and grandparents Steve and Jean Slencak. His grandfather would take him bobber-and-worm fishing to local ponds and creeks. Smallmouth and largemouth bass inhabited the creek behind his grandfather’s house.

Fishing shows on television piqued DeMarion’s interest in bass fishing. They prompted him to experiment with a variety of bass lures and techniques.

“My grandfather and I were the only ones in my family who got into fishing,” DeMarion said. “I would fish with whatever I saw on those shows.”

Family members were always very supportive of DeMarion’s fishing fanaticism. His mom, aunt and grandmother frequently dropped him off at creeks and ponds where he would cast from the bank or wade and fish for bass and other species.

While attending Grove City Area High School, DeMarion played football well enough to continue on at Gannon University in Erie, Pa. He majored in environmental science and bulked up to 235 pounds to play tight end (H-Back). He has since slimmed down to 185.

“About 75 percent of my decision to go to Gannon was that Erie overlooks Presque Isle Bay,” DeMarion said. “That bay is loaded with largemouth and smallmouth bass, and I learned there just from bank and wade fishing that has helped me all over the country.”

At the end of his junior year at Gannon, DeMarion joined the Bassmasters of Crawford County. He had never fished a tournament prior to joining the club and bought a 14-foot aluminum boat with a casting deck so he could compete. He was given a Folger’s coffee can “to bail water with” from his good friend and club mentor Mark Hughes. He delivered pizzas and worked as a lab assistant to help pay for his fishing expenses and rent.

In DeMarion’s senior year at Gannon he started a college bass team that, essentially, was for underclassmen. He fished only one college tournament at Smith Mountain Lake before graduating. He continues to mentor the team, which recently qualified for Nationals.

After graduating, DeMarion got a job with Columbia Sportswear. He bought his first fiberglass bass boat in 2014, a 2007 19-foot Skeeter. 

Although he had a bass boat, DeMarion used it only for local tournaments during the first season. When he fished Bassmaster Open, FLW Costa and BFL events, he went as a co-angler.

He began fishing the Opens as a boater in 2015 thanks to an unlikely sponsorship from DuraEdge Products and president Grant McKnight.

He came close to qualifying for the Elite Series in the Northern division by finishing eighth in the AOY standings. DeMarion fished both Open Divisions as a boater in 2016 and 2017. In 2018 and 2019 he focused on the Eastern Opens.

DeMarion currently runs a marketing program for DuraEdge Products Inc. The company produces infield, mound clay and warning track soil for ball fields around the country and internationally. One facet of his job is to schmoose clients by taking them bass fishing. DeMarion also guides for bass about 50-75 days a year during the winter and spring on Florida’s St. Johns River and Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.

“I’ve fished a lot on the St. Johns the last four years,” DeMarion said. “It’s a dynamic, challenging fishery. I’m excited that the first Elite tournament in 2020 takes place there.”

The St. Johns Elite tournament is slated for early February. DeMarion and his wife, Meghan, are expecting their first child the same month. Both events will be life changing for DeMarion. The stress will likely test his mettle to the max.

DeMarion’s sponsors include DuraEdge, CentiMark Roofing, G2 Gemini Jerseys, Power Pole, Dobyns Rods, Gamma Line, Reins Fishing, Fish Sense Lures, STORMR rain gear and Owner Hooks.