26-year-old female angler from Sumter makes cover of Bassmaster magazine


SANTEE COOPER - Heads up! Hammer down! Always!

That's the mantra that 26-year-old professional fishing sensation Anastasia Patterson of Sumter lives by and shares with others.

"Whether you're heading down the lake, taking a test at school or anything in life, do the best that you can," Patterson shared. "Heads up and hammer down, always! This exact moment may not be the right time for you, but you need to be ready for the next opportunity and grab it."

Patterson's avid love for fishing and her determination to become the best female professional angler as well as the best professional angler, period, were just a couple of the reasons that the young angler was chosen over nearly 800 other B.A.S.S. members for the cover of Bassmaster's "I Am Bassmaster."

"This is crazy," Patterson said laughingly Oct. 27. "I'm on the cover of Bassmaster magazine. It still doesn't feel real. I still don't have a physical copy. When people started calling me, I thought it was a joke. I've always dreamed of this. This makes me want to work really hard now."

In her interview with Bassmaster magazine, Patterson said she never imagined even being in the magazine.

"I have so many Bassmaster magazines I have kept over the years, gotten some signed and even used them to help me learn new techniques," she said. "I never imagined I'd actually be in one, much less on the cover, and it really motivates me to work hard and fish harder so this hopefully won't be the last time."

The "I Am Bassmaster" cover photo contest, which ran from April 1 through Aug. 31, gave B.A.S.S. members the opportunity to demonstrate how they personally embody one of the three basic tenets of the B.A.S.S. shield - passion for fishing, protection of the sport and desire to pass on the tradition.

"'I Am Bassmaster' means everything to me, honestly," Patterson told the magazine. "It's all your hopes and dreams and hard work meaning something, but not only yours, (but) the legacy of those who went before you and those who will go behind you in this sport. I Am Bassmaster … but it's bigger than me."

Patterson's devout faith and "full-speed ahead" enthusiasm and passion are what have made the young woman a winner on the professional bass fishing circuit.

Patterson's faith in God, her competitiveness and passion to win and her humble nature were instilled in her by her parents, Wendell and Patty Patterson, who told their daughter to "never stop chasing your dreams."

"Sometimes your dreams may change," Patterson said, "but never give up. Keep going."

Patterson grew up in the outdoors following her father, who is also an avid outdoorsman, hunting and fishing the Santee Cooper lakes. The young angler said that while her mother hasn't received the same recognition as her father, who travels on the road with his daughter, her mother inspires her to be the best that she can be.

"I appreciate her so much," Patterson said. "I love her so much. She set an example for me and other people to follow. She's always encouraged me to do 'whatever you want to do in life.'"

"I grew up fishing in Clarendon County with my dad," she added. "We have a sportsman's club in Clarendon County, so from an early age, I was hunting and fishing."

Patterson said her mother lovingly tells her that she has a "twang" in her voice when she talks about fishing.

Patterson said she remembers a tournament on the Santee Cooper lakes in 2006 that was "one of the best tournaments ever." Patterson said the three-day catch totals were off the charts and really showcased the "giant" bass that bring anglers, professional and amateur, to lakes Marion and Moultrie.

"I'm spoiled growing up here with the lakes that we have," she added. "There is no place like home. There is no place like South Carolina. Yes, I've been burned in tournaments here, but there is still water here that I've never fished. And I'm not giving up."

While Patterson declared her desire to become a professional angler more than 16 years ago while attending an Elite Series Santee Cooper Showdown, it wasn't until she was a student at Presbyterian College in 2018 that she became a pro angler. Patterson competed collegiately for more than three years. At the 2022 ICAST Cup, the young angler finished in second place on the USA Bass side of the event.

Patterson's ultimate goal - to make it into the Elite Series and the Bassmaster.

"A woman has never made it into the Elite Series," Patterson said. "I want to fish in the Elite Series."

While advancement into the bigger, more prestigious tournaments with the bigger purses and prizes is her ultimate goal, Patterson said she "just wants to fish."

"I can't live without fishing," she said with emotions causing her voice to break. "I can't imagine my life without fishing. I thank the Lord every day for the privileges that I have."

With the sport of fishing seeing an increase in the number of youth and women entering the sport, Patterson encourages them to keep persevering when the times are tough.

"It will get really hard," Patterson said. "Every time it gets tough, every time you want to quit, just remember that the Lord will provide for you."

If you love the outdoors but you're not enamored with fishing in particular, Patterson said the sport has many avenues for individuals to pursue.

"They can become writers, camera guys, work on camera boats, tournament officials," she encouraged. "There are a lot of opportunities to learn how to fish or work in other areas."

"It doesn't matter if you're a toddler or 100 years old, fishing is a sport that anyone can enjoy," she said. "It brings people together."

Patterson said she remembers getting up at 4 a.m. to go fishing and stopping at a convenience store to buy gas when a guy recognized her and walked up to where she was pumping gas.

"All he said was, 'I hope you whack them today,'" Patterson shared. "Things like that can make your day!"

Patterson said she enjoys reading comments that fans and other fishing enthusiasts say to her on social media.

"I read every comment," she added. "I'm so busy that I can't respond to them all, but I do read them."

"I still have a lot to learn," Patterson said. "I never imagined that I'd be on the cover of Bassmaster magazine. I'm still in disbelief. I really thought I was being punked."

Patterson got emotional talking about her career choice and how grateful she is to be living her dream.

"I give the Lord credit for being where I am today," she said. "I love fishing. There is nowhere I'd rather be. I thank my family for their encouragement and support. Remember, it might not be easy, but follow your dreams. The Lord will provide for you."

"Heads up. Hammer down. Always!"