By R. Alan Richardson
This young man may not have yet qualified for our local outdoor legends list, but he’s definitely on the radar to becoming a superstar who might one day reach that status. So, for right now, we’ll simply put him on our honorable mention registry of guys to watch.
The 27 year-old Duvall was born and raised on the edge of the Morgan-Greene County line near the Oconee and Apalachee Rivers where he learned the ins and outs of fishing from an early age. He says he got an early indoctrination into fishing for catfish, white bass, and largemouth bass since the time he was seven or eight years old fishing with his dad, Billy Duvall, and grandparents WR and Bennie Copelan, as well as grandparents Reid and Ruth Duvall. He said, “They both had farms on the Apalachee and Oconee Rivers and that’s where I live today. I spent the summers fishing out there and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Duvall runs his own business today (Flow-Right Gutters), but is seriously pursuing a full-time living as a professional bass fisherman on the FLW series. It’s something he’s always dreamed of. “I realized last October fishing the FLW Regional Competition at Lake Sinclair after I won it that I might be able to compete at a higher level. You have to work yourself up to the higher levels with finishes and points, but the formats have changed now. It used to be that if you had the finances and money, you could fish any FLW tournament you wanted to. That’s not the case today. I’m fishing in the ‘minor leagues’ right now in BFL and Pro-Am tournament events, but have also fished in Costa events that are one step below (maybe like semi-pro) the big boys on the FLW pro series.”
John told us that right now he is pretty much supporting his dream out of pocket with help and support from family and friends. He is now working towards building a resume with good fisherman friend Justin Durham to find sponsorships to help with his budding career.
His lists of accomplishments to this point are quite impressive. He broke through with his first win in April 2012 taking home the B.A.S.S Pro-Am at Lake Oconee and followed that up two years later with a first place finish at the Super Tournament Bulldog Division at Oconee as well. This year, he qualified for the Costa Series bass tournament at Lake Wheeler, Alabama and posted an 11th place finish. This year he has participated in the RAM open series, finished 20th at the Lake Okeechobee, Florida Costa Series, and posted a 12th place finish at the BFL All-American Series at Lake Barkley in Kentucky.
He talked about the equipment he uses on the water saying, “My boat is a Skeeter FX 20 with a 250 Yahama SHO Four-stroke engine. My graph is a 2HDSGenII 9 inch and my rod and reel setups vary on where and when I’m fishing. I prefer the Falcon Cara Series rods and Abu Garcia reels. They are not cheap, but I want the best equipment in my hands to be competitive.”
Duvall then talked about how fishing can help young people and others with these remarks, “It’s a great sport to keep kids active and occupied. There are now high school fishing teams out there, but it’s not a sport that many high schools can afford. It takes a lot of parental support to get these student-athletes on the water. I mean, how many high schools can afford to purchase a bass boat and all the equipment it takes to get them out on the water? There are some options out there. Pure Fishing offers discounts to schools if they present their school ID numbers. I would like to see all the high schools in the Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair area get involved in team fishing.”
His final thoughts involved fishing as it comes to athletes and other sports and they were thought provoking. He observed, “Unlike football, basketball, baseball, or even fishing to a certain extent, the players you see succeed have some natural talent. But in fishing, you can take a person that wants to win, work, and compete, and they can do it if they put in the time.”
Duvall said his future plans are to chase his dream and see how far God allows him to go.