Connell presented key to Clanton, receives own day for MLF achievements

Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Professional angler and Clanton native Dustin Connell was honored with two proclamations, a key to the City of Clanton and his own day on July 8 at the Clanton City Council meeting following his sixth career win on Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour. The sixth career win for Connell was also his second REDCREST championship on the tour, becoming the first two-time winner of the event in the tour’s history.

Connell received two proclamations during the council meeting. The first, from the Chilton County Legislative Delegation, commending Connell on his sixth win on the Bass Pro Tour, and it was presented to him by Alabama Rep. Van Smith and Alabama Sen. April Weaver. The proclamation started to be written when Connell won his fifth event on tour. However, the Clanton native was so eager to win again, it was given to him following his sixth win instead.

“Whereas the highest commendation and congratulations are proudly conveyed to Alabama’s own Dustin Connell for scoring his sixth Bass Pro Tour win,” the proclamation read by Weaver said.  “His dedication, strong desire for success, constant training and tireless and diligent efforts to achieve excellence serve as a valuable example to aspiring athletes across the country, and his home state of Alabama … We hereby dedicate this resolution to him with the utmost admiration, along with our sincere best wishes for future success.”

Connell grew up in Clanton, and he learned to fish in the creeks and streams around the area. He graduated from Chilton County High School in 2008, and went on to the University of Alabama securing a marketing degree that directly helped him in his professional fishing career when it came to sponsorships and selling himself, his brand and skills.

“This means a lot to me because I literally grew up fishing in these creeks through here, and I caught my first bass at Goose Pond Park, so I have so many memories here,” Connell said. “No matter where I move to … This is my home. I graduated here and spent 30 years of my life here, so it means a lot to me.”

Connell said it is tough going to different kinds of lakes across the county on tour, but he has an advantage in his pocket based on where he grew up. Fishing on Lake Mitchell throughout the years benefitted Connell greatly because he learned to fish in grassy areas, in deeper waters, in currents and more. When he encountered these treacherous fishing areas on tour, he already had the skills needed for success in his arsenal, developed from years of fishing in Chilton County.

“When I grew up fishing here, I made it a point to learn every technique I could,” Connell said. “It was right there at my fingertips, and I learned so much.”

Clanton Mayor Jeff Mims and the Clanton City Council presented Connell with a proclamation, a key to the City of Clanton and proclaimed July 8th, 2024 as Dustin Connell Day in Clanton.

“Whereas Dustin Connell, a native of Clanton, Alabama, has distinguished himself as an angler and an extraordinary talent,” the proclamation read by Mims said. “Dustin Connell’s accomplishments have brought great pride and recognition to the City of Clanton, serving as an inspiration to other anglers and sport enthusiasts around our community.”

Connell’s MLF Bass Pro Tour career started fast, claiming the Elite Series Rookie of the Year in 2017. He quickly established himself as a competitive angler winning the REDCREST 2021 title, and adding three stage wins during the 2022 season. His fifth win came earlier this season in stage one.

The REDCREST event is essentially the Bass Pro Tour’s league championship each year. Eighty anglers from across the world compete on the Bass Pro Tour, and they compete to earn points throughout the year. From those 80 anglers, the top 30 are invited to the REDCREST event to fish in the most prestigious event of the year, and compete for the $300,000 top spot.

“That is like The Masters to us,” Connell said. “Winning that tournament is the one you want to win, and I have been fortunate enough to win two of them.”

Now, Connell has two REDCREST wins out of five appearances in the event, the only angler in tour history to win it more than once. His six career wins make him one of only three anglers in tour history to capture three or more event wins during their career. Since turning pro, Connell has racked up over $1.8 million in career earnings.

“Thank you to the City of Clanton and Mayor Jeff Mims (for the honor). I like the idea of honoring people who have pride in their city, and I definitely do,” Connell said.

Going forward, Connell said he has a few plans in the works for the Chilton County community, including potentially starting a fishing tournament for high school students each year around July 8 to get more youth in the community involved with fishing.