“As no man is born an artist, so no man is born an angler.”
Story By Katrice Williams Photos By Shelia Scott
Christopher “Chris” Chavis is an Ellabell native who has lived in Effingham for over 10 years, along with his wife LeAnn. The couple has a son, Landon, 16, and daughter, Gracy, 13. Chris has been doing millwork since graduating from high school and is currently a longshoreman at Georgia Port Authority in Savannah.
Bass fishing has long been Chris’ passion, as he has loved it as far back as he can remember.
“I’ve been fishing ever since I was old enough to hold a fishing pole. My granddad used to carry us everywhere with him. He fished tournaments as we were growing up. That’s where I got my passion for it from,” Chris mentions. Chris’ granddad Lee Benson is definitely his biggest mentor.
Chris fished on the local small club level as a member of the Three Rivers Bass Club for a while. During only his “second year of fishing at the club, he had several good finishes and won angler of the year in points.” After his first year, he “got more into the competitive side” of things after becoming more acquainted with that arena.
He remembers thinking, “If those guys can do it, I can do it.”
Early on, he knew that it would be most beneficial to “start fishing really well at home before going abroad to compete;” he was confident that after mastering his skill on his home turf that he could begin “venturing out” much more. Chris fished in team and local, open tournaments and even participated in various charity competitive events.
Chris began competing as a co-angler, an individual who sometimes fish in the rear of the same boat as a highly skilled and professional boater at competitions; the pairings are often randomly selected prior to events, as the two usually compete independent of one another. Actually, “the very first time that Chris fished as a co-angler, he won.” What’s more, Chris fished in a couple of Bass Fishing League (BFL) Tournaments and American Bass Angler (ABA) Tournaments where he performed very well.
Chris declares, “I never would have thought in two years that I would’ve done as good and went as far in it as I have.”
Chris is enormously grateful for all of his accomplishments on the water. Some 2016 finishes included 1st place at the BFL at Clarks Hill in March 2016, 2nd place at the BFL Savannah River Division at Lake Hartwell in April, 1st place finishes at Catt Trail and the Savannah River Elite Anglers last September and 1st place at the Halloween Tricky Two-Day Competition last October just to name a few. Actually, he did a phenomenal job this year alone, placing 3rd at the ABA National Championship at Lake Old Hickory in April, 3rd at the ABA South Carolina Division at Lake Russel in May, 3rd at the Coastal Bass Anglers Memorial Day Open at the Savannah River in May and 2nd at the Metter Bass Masters Open in July.
Chris has a host of other accomplishments where he led in points over the past few years. All-in-all, Chris has “fished two national events which included over 300 anglers, ten regional events having over 250 anglers and about 20 local events, which included nearly 100 anglers;” he is pleased at his placement in each tournament.
Further, Chris began fishing as a boater this year, and he continues to exceed even his own expectations. In fact, some boater “trails to be finished” include: American Bass Anglers Ram Open Series in South Carolina, the FLW (Forest L. Wood Fishing League)/BFL Savannah River Division and the FLW/BFL South Carolina Division, all being regional tournaments. In contrast to a co-angler, there is normally more vested interest and overall responsibility with being a boater; Chris really enjoys the challenges that come along with it.
He states, “I’ve done really well as a boater for my first year. There is a lot more on the line.” Chris welcomes anyone interested in learning more about his fishing endeavors to look him up via Facebook.
Chris has some very beneficial advice for anyone desiring to get more into the sport and compete against others. He suggests, “Make sure you are good around here, then go out and fish as a co-angler for a while until you feel really good and confident that you can do a good job against those guys on their home lakes.”
With all of his skills, accolades and accomplishments, Chris has a sincere love for the sport—a love that would be difficult to remain over the years without the tremendous support of his wife and kids. They are his biggest cheerleaders. They are truly proud of him and are looking forward to his professional growth in the sport and all that the future has to offer.
LeAnn comments, “We’re happy to support him. I’m excited for him. How many times do you get to support somebody trying to live their dream? He would support me in anything I wanted to do. We’re behind him completely.”
She admits that she does go fishing with her husband on occasion and is pretty okay with leaving most of the real fishing up to him. However, she always goes with the goal of getting a catch.
LeAnn jokes, “I like to go fishing, but I really like to go ‘catching.’ I’m like, hey, let’s go. If we don’t catch anything, I’m ready to go.”
Chris, a genuinely humble guy, would rather talk about his family or his second love, fishing, than ever be boastful about himself or his achievements.
LeAnn insists, “He would rather talk about anything other than himself.”
Going forward, Chris is looking forward to working his way up to the upcoming FLW Tour or the Bass Masters Elite Series, the goal of nearly every angler striving to consistently capitalize on their professional skills. Hence, he has several noteworthy goals in mind.
Chris remarks, “Next year, I would like to try to fish the FLW’S and the Bass Masters Open. My goal is to take it another step up and go from there and see how it goes. I’m confident enough in myself that I feel like I can go compete and do good…take the chance and go after it.”
Chris is certainly grateful to all of those family and friends who show their support. Also, he feels very privileged and thankful for all the companies who have chosen to sponsor him, including BD Landscaping, D&V Electric, Beasley Conditioned Air and Greenleaf Construction.
“Having the support of local companies and good friends and family—it makes a humongous difference to keep you going,” Chris asserts.
When he is not reeling in a catch, Chris enjoys spending quality time with his family, as he appreciates all of the time that they so willingly and open-heartedly sacrifice for him to follow his aspirations.
Christopher Chavis is looking ahead to all of the opportunities in store for him as he persists to reach other noteworthy heights. While continuing to embrace the same humility and modesty that is instilled within, the opportunities are nearly endless for this talented and accomplished fisherman.