Military training and ingenuity help Nation angler

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Brent Shores learned the importance of teamwork 30 years ago when he was a U.S. Marine fighting in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.

Today, the founder of the Accu-Cull company said the same type of partnerships – people working together – are vital to the success of his own business and the fishing industry, in general.

Shores, 54, started Accu-Cull in his home state of Idaho in 2008. The company sells a line of products ranging from weight recorders and fish tags to waterproof scales, mini grips and weigh-in bags. The products are almost exclusively made in the U.S. and Accu-Cull is a wholesale manufacturer, meaning the gear goes directly from Shores to industry dealers.

“I don’t do retail because I want to keep our industry strong,” he said. “That’s super important to me. If I sell directly to a store here in Lake Havasu, I make money I need to make, and he makes the money he needs to make. And those dollars support the local fishery.”

Shores is doing his part to support the Lake Havasu fishing game this week as a competitor in the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional. He had a fine start to the tournament, as well, catching a five-bass limit weighing 10 pounds, 8 ounces, which was good enough for 15th place in the boater division after Day 1 of the derby.

In all, 180 anglers (90 each in both boater and co-angler divisions) are competing on Lake Havasu in the three-day regional. Some live close to the 19,200-acre lake that hugs the Arizona/California border, but Shores’ hometown of Boise is some 800 miles away.

Still, Shores is as familiar with the lake as just about any other angler here this week. He said he’s fished Havasu about 500 times since deciding he was going to make a living in the fishing industry, no matter the challenges it presented.

And Accu-Cull was the key to that lock.

“When I was in the Marine Corps, I told myself I was going to be a professional fisherman,” he said. “But I could never get a consistent sponsor to help me travel. It can be hard. It can be expensive. You can’t really work a 9 to 5 job and fish professionally at the same time. I got fired three times trying to do that.

“So, I started selling insurance, but at the same time, I started a TV show on fishing where I could be near the sport. I didn’t want any regrets. You get in a firefight once and you think about everything you wish you’d done.”

Back home on the water, he was thinking of ideas for better fishing tools. Accu-Cull’s first product, the weight recorder, was envisioned after using his grease board one too many times to decide when to cull a fish. Other company lines were born in much the same hands-on way.

“I’m the kind of guy, when I see an issue, I want to fix it. Like our (weigh-in) bags,” Shores said, pointing to a fellow angler carrying his bass in an Accu-Cull bag following weigh-in at Lake Havasu.

“Our bags have the handle built in,” he said. “When a bag has straps and your arm is fully extended, the bag touches the ground…Ours is an all-in-one unit. No matter how tall or how short you are, it won’t touch the ground. And when you’re ready to weigh in, the thing unzips and you pull it right out. You don’t have straps in the way. Nothing tangles up.”

That’s natural ingenuity honed by the Marine Corps, he said.

“Motivation and teamwork,” Shores said. “Overcome and adapt. I’m a team guy…And I worked for this. But if it wasn’t for people using these products, I wouldn’t be out here today.”

After a solid Day 1, Shores is hoping he can make it past the cut and compete on Day 3 of the regional. Only the leading 18 anglers in both divisions will fish on Friday, as will the top two anglers from each of nine competing states that aren’t in the top 18 in the standings.

Shores is fishing for Wyoming in the regional, and he had the best day of the 10 boaters on the team. So, he’s in good position to make the cut, if luck is on his side.

And so far in life, it has been. Hard work won’t be a problem, for sure.

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