Over the years, many pro anglers have been described as a "prodigy" due to their fishing success at a young age. But not all bass fishing prodigies are youthful. Consider Frank Talley, a 43-year-old angler from Temple, Texas. He had never competed in an FLW or Bassmaster tournament before signing up to fish the 2018 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Opens.
In three of the four Central Opens qualifying events, Talley made the Top 12 cut, finishing sixth at Ross Barnett, 12th at the Arkansas River and fourth at Logan Martin. He barely missed a check at the Red River, landing in 44th place. Going into the Bassmaster Opens Championship at Table Rock, Talley is perched atop the Central Opens Angler of the Year standings.
Given Talley’s 32-point lead over the fourth place angler, he needs to catch only one bass at the Championship to finish among the top three in the Central Opens point standings. This will earn him berths to the 2019 Bassmaster Classic and to the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series.
Talley didn’t just drop out of the blue, it’s as if he descended from Mars. How does someone who has no big-time tournament experience vault to Elite status practically overnight?
The reality is that Talley has been a bass addict since he fished his first tournament with his father, Frank, at age 6. Growing up in California, Talley and his dad competed in tournaments across the state, as well as Havasu in Arizona and Mead in Nevada.
“My dad was well-known,” Talley said. “We fished tournaments that drew guys like John Murray, Rich Tauber and Mike Folkestad. We fished against Aaron Martens and his mom for years in California.”
Spinnerbaits and crankbaits were primary lures for the young Talley, and he was able to cast them proficiently with baitcasting tackle from age 5.
“Guys would see me casting and pull over to ask how old I was,” Talley said. “They would just stop fishing and watch me. They couldn’t believe I could cast without backlashing. I think I backlash now more than I did then.”
Talley fished tournaments with his father until he graduated from Diamond Bar High School and moved to Texas to attend Texas State Tech in Waco. His older brother, Rich, lived nearby and they often joined forces to fish tournaments on lakes near Waco. The power fishing techniques Talley learned in California served him well in Texas.
After graduating with a degree in occupational health and safety, Talley took a job as a production manager at mobile home plant. Two years later he married “my beautiful wife Christy,” and they have been together for the past 21 years. Their twins put Talley’s dream of becoming a bass pro on hold.
“I wanted to make sure I was there for my kids, coaching them in softball, football and baseball,” Talley said.
In 2002 Frank Talley IV came along, which took any thought of pursuing a pro bass career off the table. Frank IV is now 15 and Talley has been there to coach him through Little League Baseball and youth football.
“I nicknamed him Chi-Chi when he was a baby and it stuck,” Talley said. “He’s a big old boy like I am, over 6 feet tall and 275 pounds.”
During these years Talley competed in local tournaments and strived to stay abreast of bass fishing advancements, especially in electronics. He spent countless hours on the water experimenting with down and side imaging and learning how to fish deep.
“I still count myself as a shallow-water fisherman, but I can catch them deep if I have to,” Talley said.
Six years ago Talley and his wife took a momentous financial risk. They sold their house and invested the money in a new business, Extreme Hoses & Hydraulics in Temple, Texas. The sink-or-swim gable paid off and Talley now has the satisfaction of being his own boss.
In 2017 Talley’s wife and children held an intervention of sorts with him. They informed him that it was his turn. Now that Frank IV was about to be working with coaches in high school, he told his father, “Now’s the time to pursue the dream you’ve put on hold for 25 years.”
Talley’s wife confirmed this with a wink and Talley signed on to fish the 2018 Bassmaster Central Opens. His family has come to every one of his Central Open weigh-ins and Talley has given them plenty to cheer about.
Talley especially wanted to see how he would fare against the Elite pros who compete in the Bassmaster Opens. Although he had never fished any of the waters on the 2018 Central Opens schedule, he limited himself to 2 1/2 to 3 days of practice, which is what Elite pros are allowed prior to their tournaments.
Talley credits the support from his family for his success.
“My family comes first and foremost,” Talley said. “When I know everything at home is good I can fish levelheaded.”
Talley’s sponsors include Extreme Hoses & Hydraulics, Tournament Saver Pro, Texas Boat World, Triton Boats and Mercury Marine.