College Student Easton Fothergill Overcomes a Brain Tumor to Fish in the Bassmaster Classic

Written by Anietra Hamper | Photos by Tommy Sendek

The Bassmaster Classic is the super bowl of fishing tournaments and a lifetime dream for any competitive angler. So when Easton Fothergill, a senior business marketing major at the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama landed the 2024 collegiate invite to compete against the most famous names in the fishing industry he was speechless.

“It’s a dream come true for sure, and it still doesn’t feel real. I’ll see all my idols on the water, and just being able to go out and practice with them is when it’s really going to hit me,” said Fothergill.

Fothergill’s interest in fishing started at a young age while growing up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota with his father, who was involved in the fishing tournament circuits. 

“I was definitely born into it. I don’t really know much different, I guess, because I’ve seen it from such a young age,” said Fothergill.

At the Bassmaster Classic

He not only picked up a love of fishing from his father, but the competitive edge for it, too. For as long as Fothergill can remember he’s dreamed of someday competing in the Bassmaster Classic. Now at the age of 21 it’s happening.

Landing Bassmaster’s coveted collegiate spot in the Classic tournament requires an angler to win overall points from four regular season team events with a partner and then a final bracket tournament where the top eight anglers face-off against each other.

“Pretty much everyone in college fishing has a goal to qualify for that bracket tournament. That’s the epitome of college fishing. So being able to do that my senior year was a huge accomplishment,” said Fothergill.

If Fothergill’s story ended there it would be impressive enough, but six weeks before that final qualifying tournament he was in brain surgery to remove a potentially life-threatening abscess. 

At the Bassmaster Classic

The first symptoms happened in mid-August of 2023 during the Bassmaster College Championship tournament in Tennessee when Fothergill experienced headaches that he attributed to dehydration. In the days that followed he began passing out but still pushed forward with his fishing and college studies until things progressed even more.

“I started not getting out of bed, started not eating. That’s when my roommates at school were like, we’ve got to do something about this. They took me to the emergency room, and that’s when they found a mass in my brain,” said Fothergill. 

He was immediately rushed into surgery and with the final qualifying bracket tournament only a few weeks away, the odds of participating seeming unlikely. Fothergill committed to his recovery with the same ambition that he applies to fishing, and it paid off for him.

One week before the early October 2023 Bassmaster College Classic Bracket tournament, Fothergill was cleared to participate. It was his last chance to qualify for the coveted Bassmaster slot he’d worked for since childhood.

At the Bassmaster Classic

During the final weigh-in at Milford Lake in Kansas, Fothergill’s 11-pound-13-ounce bag secured him as the college qualifier in the 2024 Classic tournament. Fothergill said that’s when the emotion of the moment and everything that it took to get there, including a seemingly insurmountable medical setback, hit him.

“I’m not an emotional person, at all, but you can tell in the photos it just hit me, like, holy moly, I just did that. It was just a life-changing experience for sure. It was definitely one that I’ll never forget,” said Fothergill.

At the Bassmaster Classic

Now focused on the 2024 Bassmaster Classic taking place on Grand Lake in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fothergill reflects on the journey that got him there. He says every sunrise and sunset has new meaning.

“The one thing that this whole health scare taught me is just don’t take anything for granted and to take everything in when you’re out in the outdoors,” said Fothergill.

His story is an inspiration for other youth who have big outdoor dreams showcasing that anything is possible no matter how seemingly out of reach and no matter what setbacks get in the way.

“The biggest thing is just to believe in yourself. I’m a kid from a little tiny town in northern Minnesota, and if I can make it to the Classic, anyone can,” said Fothergill.

Ambition is second nature to Fothergill, so after the Bassmaster Classic, his next major milestones are to compete for and qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series and re-qualify for the Classic tournament. For the moment, he is just focused on today.

Anietra Hamper is an award-winning outdoor writer and author who specializes in outdoor adventure and fishing for some of the largest species around the world. She is a career journalist with a background as a top-rated television news Anchor and investigative reporter.


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

NOTICE FOR ILLINOIS RESIDENTS: Due to the passage of Illinois HB0218 related to the advertising or marketing of firearms and firearm related products, SGL Media, LLC has limited communication with the state of Illinois. The information on this website is not intended for minor audiences in Illinois. If you are a minor in Illinois, please do not continue to this website.

This will close in 20 seconds