Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 12/03/2012

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos courtesy of Kurt Dove

Del Rio, TX - In August, The BASS ZONE caught up with former Elite Series pro Kurt Dove, who was on the cusp of qualifying for the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series season through the Bassmaster Northern Opens.  To read the original Quick Flip, CLICK HERE.

After three full seasons on the Elite Series from 2006 through 2008, Dove stepped away to pursue a full-time job as a guide on Lake Amistad.    

Kurt DoveWith just one Northern Open remaining on the 2012 schedule, Dove sat in 12th place in the Angler Of the Year point standings but was well within reach of climbing inside the top five in the standings and earning an Elite Series invitation for the 2013 season.  “You can never say that you’re 100% in because it’s a huge commitment,” Dove explained about the likelihood of returning to the Elite Series.  “Hopefully I can qualify and make some things happen.” 

He did qualify for the Elite Series, finishing in 21st place in the final Northern Open of the 2012 season and ending the year tied for 4th place in the Northern Open AOY standings.   It appears as though he also made some things happen on the business end, as he recently announced that he will be returning to the Elites for the 2013 season. 

“I have been working on a big deal for the last few months, so I’m very optimistic that it will all come together,” he explained.  “I’m also looking to continue the long term relationships that I’ve built with BoatUS Angler, Optimum Baits, Ima Lures, and El Grande Lures.”

Outside of several anglers who have missed an Elite Series season with a medical exemption, Dove will become the first angler in history to step away from the Elite Series for at least one year and then requalify through the Bassmaster Opens and return to the Elite Series.      

His return to the highest level of tournament bass fishing will mark the culmination of Dove’s three-part strategy that he began to develop when he opted not to return to the Elite Series for the 2009 season and focus on guiding.  

“One goal was to become a better angler so that I could become more competitive,” he explained.  “Another goal was to continue to engulf myself in the fishing industry and everything that surrounds it, because stability within the industry and with your sponsors often translates to success on the water." 

Dove’s third and final goal was to simply take a step back and evaluate his performance during his three seasons on the Elite Series, where he recorded just one top 20 finish and cashed a total of 10 checks.

“During my three years on the Elite Series, I was always worried about running back home after each tournament and making more money so that I could stay out there. I wasn’t worried about becoming a better fisherman,” he admitted. 

“At the end of the 2008 season, I took a hard look at some of the guys who have had amazing careers like Mark Davis, Larry Nixon, Harold Allen, and Denny Brauer.  In the past, they were all fishing guides.  I saw how that platform created a foundation for becoming a better anger.”  

Kurt DoveBetween 2009 and 2012, Dove diligently built his guiding business, Amistad Bass Guide, and spent more and more time on the water.   In addition to six Bassmaster Opens this past season, Dove captained around 170 guide trips on Amistad. He said that the additional time on the water has translated to tangible success in tournament competition.          

“I’m a totally different angler than I was back in 2008 because I’ve spent so much more time on the water,” he explained.  “I’ve become much more proficient with breaking down water simply because of my guiding.  I’m a different angler, a different person, and I have a much better foundation in the industry now.  2013 will be the first time that I’ve fished on the Elite Series with the right mindset to be successful.  

“The goal was always to return (to the Elite Series).  I wasn’t sure how or when, but I knew that the path would be created, and when it was, I would be in a better place,” he continued.  “I can’t begin to describe my excitement about returning this upcoming season. When I left, I knew that I wanted to come back and be in the right situation and right state of mind.  I feel like that’s exactly where I am right now, and I can’t wait.” 

In addition the eight regular season Elite Series tournaments, Dove plans on fishing the Bassmaster Northern Opens, Bassmaster Southern Opens, and possibly the PAA Tournament Series depending on the schedule.  He’ll also continue to guide on Lake Amistad on a limited basis, booking trips during the offseason from September through the fall and winter months.   

“There are so many similarities between guiding and tournament fishing,” said Dove.  “When you’re guiding, you can’t afford to flounder through the day and then apologize to your clients at the end of the trip.  You have to make adjustments and take chances in order to provide a good day on the water.  The same thing can be said for tournament fishing, because you have to make those same adjustments and changes in order to consistently cross the stage with limits and be competitive.”  

 The 2013 Elite Series season will be a mix of familiar venues and new water for Dove, who has launched his boat on half of the tournament waters in the past.  He has never fished the Sabine River, Bull Shoals, West Point, or the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Dove is entering his third year in a partnership with Dean’s Marine in Odessa, Texas, and will fish out of a Skeeter during the upcoming season.     

“The cool thing is that I’m back and I’m prepared,” Dove concluded.  “I’m not going to launch the boat and have the nervous excitement about who I’m around or who I’m fishing against because I’ve been there before.   The excitement that I’ll have will be from knowing how I’m going to catch the next fish or make the right move.”