"Bassmaster classic champion, David Dudley, can I help you?" 5 year old Dudley would answer the telephone. Not everyone knows what they were born to do when they are 5, 15, 25 or even 50, but David always knew what made his heart come alive. The science, the math, the art of what happens under the water captured his mind and heart as a small boy. The challenge to "get the fish" consumed his every thought.
He began fishing local tournaments with his father every weekend and as a teen would put on roofs to earn the entrée fees to enter on his own. His fishing would at times interfere with his other team sports. Eventually he was forced to choose and he made the final trade of his bat and glove for rod and reel without hesitation when he found himself being kicked off the baseball team for skipping practice to fish a tournament. His early success was some consolation for the snickers and scorning of the doubters he encountered. At 18 he was the youngest ever to win a Bassmaster tournament and the youngest ever to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.
In 2001 hopping around the boat with a broken ankle he took home second on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. He signed with Castrol as a title sponsor that year which began a 13 year and still running relationship with this great company. Then in 2002 he took first place and the coveted prize of $700,000 at the Ranger M1, followed by winning the 2003 FLW Tour Championship for $500,000. He took a few more first place prizes and signed more sponsorship contracts on his way to becoming the 2008 FLW Angler of the Year. Then in 2009 he took home the UMF Championship belt to add to his collection of trophies. In 2011 he took home his second Angler of the Year title and another check for $100,000. In 2012, Dudley won two of the six FLW Tour major events (Beaver Lake, AR and Lake Champlain, NY) on the way to becoming the first angler to win back to back AOY awards. His third such title enabled him to join Clark Wendlandt as the only two anglers to win the title three times.
Dudley, now 40, lives back in his home town of Lynchburg, VA with his wife, Angela, of 13 years and his 5 children who adore him. While fishing was his passion at a young age and continues to be a lifelong pursuit David has bigger things on his heart these days. As his career began at 19 at that same time there also birthed in his heart a new vision for something even further beyond living the American Dream. As David poured all of his hard earned money from putting on roofs in entrée fees, gas, and whatever tackle he could afford, he now pours the same into building One Body in Christ Ministries. And as a much as it thrills the heart of an angler to pull in a catch and make a check in his first few tournaments it does the same to see OBIC begin. Hundreds of kids play on the ball fields, special needs children fish their heart out in the stocked pond, kids come alive on the horses, and families come together and make memories around the bonfires. And nearly everything is free! Fishing and Horse Camps are flooded with kids while even those fees are covered by generous sponsors for those whose families can’t afford to send them.