Extreme Angler

Madison, Ind., native Cooper earning respect on pro fishing tour

Cycling event added to festival’s
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(September 2014) – Fishing is a relaxing past time to many people, but for Madison, Ind., native Ryan “R.C.” Cooper, it means something else entirely. It is a 90-mile boat ride at 80 mph in order to find the best fish. These high-speed rides can occur in all manner of weather and are anything but relaxing.
Nevertheless, it is what drives him and has led him to be accepted among the legends of bass fisherman in the Wal-Mart Fishing League Worldwide Tour Majors.

Ryan Cooper

Photo provided

R.C. Cooper, a Madison, Ind., native,
is enjoying much success on the
Wal-Mart Fishing League Tour World Majors. He now resides in Nashua, N.H. with his wife and child.

Being accepted into this level of the fishing world does not mean that the goal has been met and all work stops. In fact, it means the opposite. Luckily, Cooper makes it clear that he loves his job. “I’m very blessed to be able to do what I do for a living,” he says.
Currently, Cooper has his attention focused on the Bassmaster Opens. A win at this series will result in not only a large cash prize but a coveted invitation to the Bassmaster Classic. “It is the Super Bowl of fishing,” Cooper adds.
The portion of the Opens that occurred on Lake Champlain from July 31 to Aug. 2 was a must for Cooper, since he considers this his current home lake. Situated primarily in the states of New York and Vermont, the lake is 125 miles long and 14 miles wide at its widest point. Cooper describes it as a “wind tunnel.”
Conditions on the lake can become quite challenging because large waves develop frequently.  The first day of this particular tournament went perfectly for Cooper. Known for studying fishing environments and making educated decisions regarding ideal locations, he made the decision to boat 96 miles from the launch. Taking into account the south bound wind meeting up with water that flows north, Cooper knew this would create a shallow area where the fish would be ready to bite. He just needed to be fast enough.
“He’s a daredevil,” volunteers Cooper’s brother, Rob. “He is in no way afraid to take chances,” he adds with the pride typical of an older sibling.
Cooper made the trip in good time and was able to snag 19 pounds of fish within 20 minutes. During this run, he was able to catch a bass that earned him a tie for the Big Bass award of the tournament. It was a good day. Cooper says he could have fished safe for the next two days and earned himself a payday. He was in third place after his daring first run.
However, Cooper is not a fisherman known for playing it safe. “I don’t just want a payday,” he says. “I want a win, and I want to win my way.”
Day two of the Lake Champlain tournament saw some foreboding weather. Cooper thought twice about his plan but set out on the same path from the previous day. The trip took longer this time and some high speeds were necessary on the return trip. “I crashed and burned,” Cooper said, “but I tried.” He is now in 50th place for the Bassmaster Opens. He said losses only make him try harder for his next win.
Rob remembers when they were being taught to fish by their father, Robert Cooper, at the Old Timbers Lake in Jefferson Proving Ground and on the Ohio River in Madison. He said they were taught so much more than fishing skills under the guidance of their father. A disabled veteran, Robert Cooper taught his children to have respect for their elders and to use their free time in a wise manner.
This philosophy is surely what has led Cooper to his work with veterans. When he is not competing, he donates his time to the Fishing with Forces program, during which he takes members of various branches of the armed forces on guided fishing trips. This includes local police and fire fighters as well. Cooper says an individual may be nominated by friends, family and sometimes commanding officers for a day of relaxed fishing.
“My father always told me to find a way to give back. This is it for me,” he says.

• To follow R.C. Cooper’s professional fishing career, visit: www.rccooper.com or follow him on Twitter @rccooperfishing or Facebook. 

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