As the old adage says, "all good things must come to an end." Thus, legendary angler, Denny Brauer, of Camdenton, Mo. has decided to retire from Bassmaster Elite Series competition following the 2012 season. Citing several facets of the expanded Elite Series schedule and the toll a 32-year career competing on the sport's highest levels have taken on him physically; Brauer has decided to retire from tour level competition.
"While I will not ever fully retire from this great sport that has been my passion for so many years, it is time for me to step down from competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series," said the 63-year-old Brauer. "The last 32 years have been tremendous; Shirley and I are so appreciative of all that this sport has been for us."
Brauer steps down from what is highly regarded as one of the greatest career records in the sport of professional bass fishing. His career statistics began with his first Bassmaster entry in a Federation Chapter Championship on Lake Eufaula in Alabama in 1978. That entry would spawn his full-time venture into Bassmaster competition in 1980, and the rest as they say, would become history.
Brauer steps down from tour level competition after a career that includes 317 Bassmaster Entries. Those many events have produced 17 wins, 79 top 10 finishes and 197 finishes in the money. He has competed in 21 Bassmaster Classics, winning the 1998 event on High Rock Lake in North Carolina. He was also the 1987 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, and retires as one of only 12 anglers to have won both the Bassmaster Angler of the Year and Bassmaster Classic titles. He retires having earned $2,579,394 in Bassmaster competition; a total that ranks him third amongst all competitors in the history of B.A.S.S.
He also found success on the FLW Tour. In 38 FLW Outdoors entries, Brauer recorded nine top 10 finishes, four appearances in the Forrest Wood Cup, collected $132,350 and earned the 1998 FLW Angler of the Year title.
His 1998 year still ranks as the most impressive single year a professional angler has ever recorded. In 1998, Brauer won four BASS events including the Bassmaster Classic, and placed in the top 10 five out of seven times on the FLW Tour. His Bassmaster earnings of $406,000 still ranks in the top 10 of all time highest single season earnings. He earned an additional $52,500 in FLW competition that year en route to winning the FLW Tour Angler of the Year award.
Amongst a career full of highlights, some of the other remarkable ones include being the first professional angler to appear on a box of Wheaties cereal, and he made two appearances on the David Letterman Show. He has also been the host of several popular television shows throughout his career.
"I could not have done this without the sacrifices of Shirley and Chad throughout the years," he said. "Shirley made sure everything was taken care of for me. She has been my friend, my business partner and road companion through everything. I cannot say enough how proud I am of Chad and the man he has become. One of my true joys in this life has been seeing him build a career in bass fishing and beyond, and being able to share in it alongside him."
Brauer said that his career would not have been possible had it not been for the help of an incredible list of sponsors. "I owe so much to them for everything they have done and continue to do for me even now in the planning of this phase of my career," he said. "I owe a tremendous amount to those people who have stood by me over the years and still remain a part of me now.
"I owe special mentions to John Barnes, Doug Minor and the people at Strike King Lure Company, Kim Ott, Bart Schad, Randy Hopper and everyone at Ranger Boats, Krista Heidgerken and her team at Evinrude, Mike Brooks at Ardent, Todd Hammill and his team at Gemini Sports Marketing / Wired2Fish, Jeff Pierce at Mustad Hooks, Tim Price at Humminbird / Minn Kota, and to the folks at Busch Beer, Oxygenator and Seaguar, thank you so much for standing behind me for so long. I know there are people at all of these companies that I'll overlook here, please know you all have meant so much to us.
"I also want to say thank you to Ray Scott for his vision of B.A.S.S. and to Irwin Jacobs at FLW, you both are responsible for the venues that helped me build my career. Lastly, thank you to Forrest and Nina Wood, without your support I don't think I would have been able to make this a career."
He revealed that the hardest part of stepping down from the tour competition will be missing the people that have been a part of his life for so many years. "Shirley and I have met some incredible people over the course of this career, and knowing we won't be seeing as much of them has been the most difficult part of this decision," said Brauer. "We have met some amazing people and have been so touched by so many of you; we will miss seeing you every day"
"I will greatly miss the interaction with the fans of the sport at tournaments," he said. "The fans are who make this career so rewarding, to hear your cheers and listen to your recollections of events throughout my career are moments that I remember and cherish - thank you for giving so much of yourselves to me, and to the sport as a whole."
In retirement from full-time touring competition, Brauer and his wife Shirley have decided to list their Camdenton, Mo. property for sale and will take up full-time residence in their new hometown of Del Rio, Texas, where he will still actively participate in fishing activities on a frequent basis. "I really call this a semi-retirement because I will still be fishing tournaments, primarily at Major League Fishing events and events on Lake Amistad and the surrounding areas," he said. "I will still be working with my sponsors on product development and making appearances at shows; I may also end up doing more television in the future, so I'm not going to completely step away, it just means too much to us.
"The past 32 years has been amazing," said Brauer. "I could have never imagined a career such as this in my wildest dreams. There have been ups and downs, but we step away with the warmth of friendship, support and a career full of goals reached and dreams realized.
"Thank you to sport of bass fishing, it has been a wild and crazy ride; one that I am really humbled and proud to have taken."
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