Oklahoma Fishermen Wouldn't Be Where They Are Without Family

Saturday, February 22nd 2014, 12:01 am
By: News On 6

Who wouldn't want to get paid to do what they love? For most of us, it's just a dream, but for five Oklahoma fishermen, it's reality.

They're not just any fishermen, though. These guys are some of the best in their sport, competing right now in the "Super Bowl" of fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

And even these pros didn't get this far without a lot of support from home.

When Tommy Biffle's not on the water, trying to reel in a winning catch, you just might find him checking up on his ATV store, near Fort Gibson Lake; he bought the business seven years ago.

2/21/2014 Related Story: Some Of Oklahoma's Own Take On The Bassmaster Classic

"He's the decoy. He brings ‘em in and I help ‘em out," said Jason Beeler, Biffle's son-in-law.

The store is for his family, Biffle says Fishing is his real job.

"Usually I'm gone, I'd say, at least 250 days a year or so," Biffle said.

That leaves his wife Sharon home to run the family business with their son-in-law.

"The good definitely outweighs the bad, so it's worth it," Sharon Biffle said.

The couple even went so far as to put fishing in their wedding vows.

"Yeah, we had it in there. Go fishing anytime you want to," Biffle said.

And it's that family support that's helped Tommy Biffle become one of bass fishing's legends.

After family and fishing, basketball is Jason Christie's biggest passion.

"I'd probably say "If I weren't fishing, I'd be coaching," Christie said.

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In his spare time, Jason helps coach a youth basketball team, but not that long ago he passed up opportunities to play college ball so he could play in the great outdoors.

"It was, do I go there and probably sit on the bench not get to fish and deer hunt, or do I stay home, let my parents attend the games and be able to fish and deer hunt when I want and that was an easy decision for me," Christie said.

But not easy are the sacrifices to become a world-class fisherman.

"You know, that's how. That's my job. Just like your job is to be the weatherman, my job is to support them and the best way I can do that now, is fishin," said Christie.

Jason's wife, Amy describes their life in Cherokee County as chaotic and stressful; keeping up with three girls and a job of her own. But it helps knowing her husband is doing what he loves.

"It's just something we've kind of grown used to," Amy Christie said.

Like Jason Christie, Chris Jones credits family for his rising success. The Bokoshe resident still counts on his job at a Fort Smith machine shop to pay the bills, but spends every spare minute fishing.

"You know, it went from being a hobby, and just fun fishing to you turn it into making money," Jones said.

Jones says his new found success wouldn't be possible without an understanding boss and a wife, who not only handles her own teaching career, but the couple's two children.

"We have a lot of help from my parents, and then his parents live right up the hill, so everybody just pitches in," Angel Jones said.

"It's let me go and do more in the sport than what I ever thought," said Chris Jones.

This is Talala's Edwin Evers' 13th Classic; his best finish, fifth. Edwin knows that to take first place, he's gonna need his family with him, either in spirit or in person.

"If I'm gonna be gone more than 2 weeks, you know, she'll pack 'em up no matter what it costs, fly to wherever I'm at, and you know - get to see my kids, and you know we make it work," Evers said.

Edwin's wife, Tuesday, knows exactly what it takes to make it work. Her brother, Terry Butcher, is also a pro-fisherman, who set up the couple on a blind date.

"She told Terry, honest to God truth, what in the world would I have in common with any one of your friends. That's what she said," Evers said.

The couple quickly learned just how much they did have in common, and it's that bond that helps Tuesday calm her husband's greatest fears.

"Am I doing my part as a husband, as a dad, and he stresses over that a lot so as long as I'm taking care of the household, and he feels confident in that, it relieves a lot of stress from him," Tuesday said.

Fred Roumbanis is one of the young guns in this year's Classic.

"When I first started this path into bass fishing, you know, I did it for myself. That's what I always wanted to do, but now that we're older and got kids and family, it's I'm doing it for them," Roumbanis said.

Them, is wife Julie and their two young boys. Roumbanis is thinking of them each time he baits a hook and casts a line.

"It's a good way to live, but it's stressful because you don't know. There's no guarantees in this sport," he said.

His wife's constant support eases his mind.

"She's more than just a home support, like we said earlier, she's my manager, my coach, I guess you could even say she's my caddy," Roumbanis said.

Joking aside, the Bixby fisherman said he couldn't follow his childhood dream without her.

"We wouldn't trade it for anything in the world," Julie Roumbanis said.

Lake Guntersville in Birmingham, Alabama is hosting the 44th Bassmaster Classic, just one year after it came to Grand Lake.

The tournament runs through Sunday and only one of the 56 competitors will hook the $300,000 first prize.