By Steve Chaconas
Adopting a Sport
While Evers was the sole angler to hoist the championship trophy, another angler should be considered an unequivocal winner too: Virginian Chris Dillow. Finishing in 34th place was a major accomplishment, considering his route to qualify for the Classic was a long shot. That Dillow was in the country or even exposed to fishing may never have happened, as his journey through life was nothing ordinary.
Just 10 days old, Dillow and his twin brother were abandoned in a cardboard box on the steps of a German orphanage. The Dillow brothers lived at the orphanage for a couple years before being adopted by two loving parents, Charlie and Ann Dillow. It would be easy to grow up bitter after being treated like a disposable object, but Dillow refused to let his circumstances define him, and focused instead on his blessings. “I’m so blessed to have been adopted by two wonderful parents who were able to keep my brother and me together.”
The family moved to the United States, eventually settling in rural Virginia where Dillow discovered his fishing passion. “As kids, we used to go camping on the Shenandoah River, to Douthat State Park to fish for trout, and to Christians Creek on Sundays after church to sucker fish.” Each fishing expedition brought the family a little closer together, a pastime that defied the law of diminishing returns. “I always had a great time (on the river). The camaraderie and the friendly competition amongst each other was just so fun. We wouldn’t come back home until supper time most days.” Those long days on the river planted the seeds for Dillow’s future ambition. “It’s been a dream of mine (to go pro) ever since I was 11 years old.”
His professional fishing aspirations would take time to manifest though. After graduating from James Madison University and entering adulthood, Dillow found work in the hotel and restaurant industries. Unfortunately, his time-consuming career severely limited his time on the water. After 23 years, Dillow acquired his real estate license and set out for a new career challenge. Today, Dillow is a premier real estate agent at the Augusta Realty Group and has been named the top producer, lister, and seller at his firm for six consecutive years. The job is time-consuming, but Dillow carves out fishing time in his hectic schedule. The time juggling has been well worth it. In his professional career, Dillow has won nine events, seven of which were exclusively won with jigs. “I’m a jig fisherman. Everyone knows that. I’ve made my jigs for years, including Dillow’s Perfect Jig.” Jig fishing allows him to swing for the fence, as this is a big fish bait. Since his practice time is limited, he sees this as his best shot to compete against top-level pros.
Dillow’s hard work and persistence produced a career-defining victory in 2015 at the Bassmaster Northern Open. Dillow won the tournament in resounding fashion, toppling the second place challenger by over nine pounds with the help of his proprietary jig. The victory carried an automatic invitation to the prestigious BASSMASTER Classic. “It was hands-down the biggest victory of my career.”
After waiting patiently his whole life for the opportunity to compete at the Classic, Dillow took in the entire experience. “They treated us like kings there, like rock stars. It was great being with my wife, Susan, and my daughter, Christiana. I’m so blessed they were able to sacrifice time off their schedules to spend the week with me.”
Despite the pageantry of the Classic and unparalleled media attention, Dillow was able to keep his nerves at bay and focus on the task at hand. In fact, Dillow lamented he should have had a top-10 finish at this year’s Classic. “I had a toad with 20 minutes left on the second day (of competition) right beside the boat. (The fish) had its mouth open toward me and next thing I know, the jig just popped out.” Had that fish been landed, he thinks he would have been sitting at about 15th place going into the final round with a top 10 finish as fish were finally starting to bite his jig.
The Classic was a surreal experience for Dillow, but the notion that he can do even better has him motivated to earn a spot in the Classic once again. “The desire to get back is definitely strong”. The road back to the Classic will be tough. But not as tough as Chris Dillow.
Potomac River Bassing in May
Bass are in the mood for love! Try fishing shallow with drop shots and shaky head for spawning fish. Use Mizmo BarbWire jigs with Doodle worms. Soak in Jack’s Juice Bait Spray.
Flats can be covered on long casts with a Lucky Craft LVR D-7 lipless crankbait. Try reds fist and then use shad patterns. Rip from grass and pause. Using GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line will enhance strike detection and make for better hook sets.
Mann’s Baby 1-Minus will also produce in these areas, but is the best around wood cover. Use 12-pound test Edge. Crank and snap out of grass or allow them to deflect off wood cover.
Mizmo tubes on 3/0, Mustad Ultra Point Mega Bite hooks with a 3/16-ounce bullet weight can also be pitched to any cover. Beef up to 14-pound Edge.
If the water is stained, try 3/8-ounce Mann’s Classic spinnerbaits. Slow roll these past wood and grass. If it is shallow, less than 3 feet, try using the ¼ ounce size.
Guest columnist Corey Chaconas pens a sports blog, theraindelay.com and writes for thebaynet.com. Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is a Potomac bass fishing guide & contributing writer for BoatU.S. (BoatUS.com) Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.