Like Bassmaster Elite Series pro Billy Brewer, Paul Shuey of Wake Forest, North Carolina was a Major League Baseball relief pitcher before he decided to become a pro angler.
Unlike Brewer, Shuey hasn’t made it yet to the Elite Series, but he has his game plan in place. This year he’s getting his feet wet by competing in the Bassmaster Weekend Series operated by American Bass Anglers, the circuit that qualifies one angler for the Bassmaster Classic.
“I’ve got to get to where I feel really good about what I’m doing,” Shuey said. “Then I’ll move forward and attack the Bassmaster Opens next year.”
Shuey was with the Cleveland Indians from 1994 to 2002, including four playoff appearances. He was traded in 2002 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he stayed until an injured thumb put him on the disabled list. He retired after a brief comeback with the Baltimore Orioles’ organization in 2007. That’s when he decided to turn his love for bass fishing into his next career.
He said he taught himself to fish after his family moved to North Carolina when he was 10.
“My grandfather had died, and he left me his tackle,” the 37-year-old said. “So one day I took it to a pond, and caught a 2-pound bass on the first cast. I’ve been eaten up with bass fishing ever since.”
During his baseball career, Shuey always made time for bass fishing, no matter where the team traveled.
“On days off, when the other guys would go shopping or whatnot, I was usually headed out to the water,” he said, “but I would find a way to go out even when I didn’t have a day off. People were always offering to take me, or I’d hire a guide. Bass fishing was a nice way to get away from all the pressures that the game brought.”
His newly chosen career feeds his need to be competitive, he said.
“There’s not much that gets your blood flowing like someone standing in the box, trying to hit a home run off you. I miss that,” Shuey said. “But when I get ready to take off for a tournament, and my boat number’s called, I get a thrill there, and when I catch a nice bass, I get a kick of adrenaline from that, too.”
Although they’ve never met, Shuey could draw inspiration from Brewer, who is 33rd in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race and second in the Advance Auto Parts Rookie of the Year standings.
Shuey is now in 15th place in the Virginia Division of the Bassmaster Weekend Series, just 60 points out of first and on track to his season goal of qualifying for the national championship. The winner will be awarded a berth in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, February 20-22 on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana.