Hartley a workingman's BASS angler

"Everything in life is getting in the way of me catching another fish," Charlie Hartley says. 

There's a lot of black on his wrapped boat, but the tow vehicle is solid black.

It has to be. It always will be. Black is the color that needs washing the most. And Charlie Hartley is the man for the job.

Washing the truck, two times a day if need be, is a good way to burn off the excess energy that seems to make up about 98 percent of his being.

Most of that energy is directed toward bass fishing. He owns a sign company back home in Grove City, Ohio, where, he says, "About 25 employees work hard while I'm out here bass fishing."

Hartley is 41 years old and has been tournament bass fishing since the age of 12, when he founded the Walnut Springs Bass Fishing Club in Westerville, Ohio. The club was twice recognized nationally as the youth club of the year.

"Bass fishing is incredibly huge back home in Ohio, especially since the bass boats got big enough for Great Lakes fishing about 15 years ago", he says. "Before that we used to say if you got two fish and one of them was a 2-pounder, you were likely to win big fish and win the tournament."

He's a man who knows tournament fishing, because he's the man who fishes every tournament. A partial list of 2005 Charlie Hartley tournament stops:

  • The CITGO Bassmaster Tour

  • The CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open Division

  • Three Everstart divisions

  • The FLW Tour

  • The Canadian Open

  • Numerous local championships and Tuesday night tourneys.

    There were more than 60 events, by his reckoning.

    "I just get a rush when I catch a fish and there's any amount of money on the line", he explains.

    His wife, Tracy, is his constant companion on the road. He says she'd like it if he won a few more of these.

    "She calls me 'disappearing Charlie,' because I'll start a tournament way up on the leaderboard and, by the final day, I've disappeared."

    But, it isn't always that way. At the Bassmaster Tour event at Lake Eufala in 2003, he had the lead with one angler left to go.

    "It was the first time that I had ever allowed myself to think that, yes, I was going to break through and win a really big one," Hartley said. "Then Edwin Evers hits the stage. I think I got his career off to a really fine start that day."

    But his enthusiasm only grows. He has no other hobbies.

    "Everything in life is getting in the way of me catching another fish." He thinks a minute and adds, "That's probably not the way I'd explain it to Tracy."

    How long can he keep this up?

    "Until they bury me," he said. "You're never really a loser until you quit, and I'm not quitting."