Castledine Cashes in on Last CastSubmitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
In the world of big time bass fishing, there are a handful of names that every aspiring angler knows. They are the guys that all bass fishermen look up to. They are on magazines. They have their own series of baits. They stand on weigh in stages and hold up trophies. You can see them regularly on tv and read about them in print. This is a small group who are considered “the best”.
But what if I were to tell you that there is a small handful of guys out there that are standing just outside the spotlight. They are legends in certain circles. Those circles just aren’t the mainstream media. The “big name” pros even know who these guys are. This group of anglers are owning what they’re fishing, you just might not know about them.
Well let me introduce you to who is arguably the best angler you may not have heard of. Chances are if you’re from the state of Texas, or have fished an event there, you’ll know who he is. There’s just as good a chance that if you’re not, you’ll know who he is should he ever choose to take his show on the road. A simple Google search of his name will return page after page of his success in the form of tournament results and recaps. The sheer volume of which is astonishing.
Let me introduce you to Todd Castledine of Nacogdoches, TX. He is the 37-year-old husband of Brittany and father of Makayla and Michael. Todd began his tournament career at the young age of 15. He grew up about a mile from the largest marine on Lake Livingston and spent just about every waking hour there from the time he was in seventh grade on. It wasn’t long before he had amassed so much knowledge and experience on the lake, that anglers were asking him to fish tournaments with them. Even as a youngster, Castledine was known among his peers as a formidable angler.
After high school, he enrolled in Stephen F. Austin State University in what is now his hometown. He balanced a class load, working part time at Papa John’s and fishing as many tournaments as he could. Todd still didn’t have his own boat at this point, so that often meant driving home to Coldspring and fishing with his dad on weekends. That transitioned into a lot more fishing and a lot less working to the point where in about 2006 fishing became his sole source of income. That hasn’t changed since.
In the past 11 years Todd has supported his family, qualified for the Elite Series and won more tournaments than most people have ever fished in. He has arguably fished more tournaments than anyone in the country during this time span as well, as he often averages more than 45 a year. One of the intriguing things about Todd is his independent attitude when it comes to fishing. That attitude is apparent when discussing philosophy, techniques, tournament practice and prep, and the cost of fishing for a living-. Castledine’s success has come on his watch and his dime. He is self-taught and self-funded. He doesn’t ask for help on the water and he doesn’t get help financially from sponsors. He makes what he wins.
It is impossible to talk to Todd and not sense his faith in the middle of all of this. This self-reliance and carrying his own weight that is his style is often redirected as Todd explains that the guidance he has received. You can’t hear him explain his life, fishing career or individual highlights without it shining through. Let me give you an example:
The latest highlight in Castledine’s reel came 3 weeks on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in the form of a Costa FLW Series win that was worth over $50,000. Todd was terribly sick with the flu during practice. So sick he lost 15 lbs. in 4 days and gave up time on the water to go to the doctor. This impacted his tried and true system that he employs for sight fishing events that requires 3 days of practice. In his words, “I hate winging it and I had to wing it”.
Day one was a bit of a grind as he recovered from being extremely ill. Several of his key bed fish were gone and he had to dip into what he had hoped to save for day 2, but he managed a 20 lb. bag that sat him tenth place. All his fish came on a Strike King Rage Bug in California Craw.
On day 2 Todd “just went sight fishing”. He had put a little something together after day 1 that clued him into where he should be concentrating. He went to where he had a caught a 5 ½ pounder on day 1 and caught the big bass of day 2, a nine pounder. He then struggled for the next 4 hours to scratch out a limit of 14 inchers. His big fish salvaged a tough day and his limit weighed 19.11 lbs. and he moved up one spot to 9th.
Day 3 started off terrible as his sickness returned. Todd actually was throwing up as the National Anthem was being played during blast off. That, coupled with a string north wind, pretty much destroyed his plan to sight fish. Instead, he ran a few shallow cranking spots with a 2.5 squarebill and amassed a limit in the 17 to 18 pound range. He knew that starting the day in 9th would require a big bag to win, so he abandoned his squarebill pattern and went to check a few bed fish. Armed with his trusty Rage Bug setup, Castledine caught a few 4’s and 5’s which allowed him to cull up to a very respectable limit. Especially considering the way his day had started. But for a veteran tournament angler like Todd, winning was on his mind and a respectable limit wasn’t a factor.
At around 2:15 pm Todd found himself with 45 minutes left to fish and in need of something big to happen in order to win. This wasn’t uncharted territory for him and he remained calm. He pulled up on a deeper, offshore spot that he felt like always had the potential to hold a big fish or two. He cast a 10” Strike King Anaconda worm out and as it was falling towards the 18’ deep bottom, he began to second guess his decision. Everything else he had weighed and caught had come around the bank. Did he have time in the bottom of the ninth to investigate a spot that he hadn’t made a cast on in over a month? Nope. He reeled up, pulled up his trolling motor and headed down the lake to finish his day in areas and doing things that made more sense.
As he got about a mile away from his deep spot that he had abandoned just moments ago, he did something that he had never done before in his fishing career. A U-turn. “I make a living by trusting my instincts and my instincts told me that the deep spot was a waste of valuable time. But, something told me to go back. It wasn’t just a random second guess of my decision to leave. Something in me told me to go back. So, I did.”
When Castledine returned, he picked up the same Anaconda worm and made the same cast. This time though, he had expectation. On the very first cast he got a bite. Not just any bite. A bite that came from a nearly 10 pounder. That fish would anchor a day three limit that weighed 27 pounds and secured the victory for Castledine. A fish that came on what some would call a hunch, but Todd himself describes as “being led”. A fish that would deposit $50,500 into his family’s income. A fish that would become one of many incredible stories in what is the fishing career of Todd Castledine.
Of note is that 2nd place was captured by Todd’s friend Jason Bonds who caught all his fish on a Rage Bug and on the all-new Popping Perch, which Todd designed for Strike King. And, 3rd place went to fellow Strike King pro and native Texan Ray Hanselman. Ray caught his fish on the also new Strike King Rage Swimmer. Combined, the top three finishers caught all their fish on Strike King baits and accounted for over $85,000.