Do you have a great fish story to tell?

About the time you caught the big one, even though it was actually a lot bigger in your story than it was in real life?

About the big one that got away?

Have you made it on Rod's Big Ol' Fish? That's the ultimate, you know.

Is your best fish story about getting a Filet-O-Fish, with extra tar-tar sauce, at McDonald's? That's basically mine.

Marcus Sykora has all of us beat. The Osage Beach fisherman had the pleasure of fishing for three days at Wilson Lake in Florence, Alabama, last week.

And he won $100,000. Wow.

No tar-tar sauce required.

Fishing for the second time in this event, Sykora went wire-to-wire to win the Walmart BFL All-American after bringing in five bass weighing 12 pounds, 5 ounces on Saturday.

"It's obviously the pinnacle of my fishing career so far," Sykora said. "It was just magical ... it was just an amazing feeling. What an emotional high, and I had a tremendous amount of support from the folks back here in Missouri."

His three-day total of 15 bass weighing 66 pounds, 4 ounces, bested second-place boater Jayme Rampey of Liberty, S.C., by more than four pounds.

"There are a lot of hobbies out there that are all expenses," Sykora said. "This is a hobby that has the potential for profit, it's just an awesome thing.

"I've seen some awesome sunrises that most people don't see, because I'm out there on the water. The sheer grace of our country and the beauty of our region, i'ts just amazing. And then if you catch a bunch of big fish, you get paid to do it."

Sykora started fishing "professionaly" in 2000. But ...

"I still don't even consider myself a professional," he said. "I'm just a guy who loves to fish bass tournaments and gets lucky from time to time. But I work hard at it, I really do.

"And the one thing I've learned, the harder I work, the luckier I get. It doesn't matter what you're doing."


Sykora, 37, grew up in Waynesville. His wife is Andrea and they have two children, daughter Madison, 6, and son Mason, 4.

He opened his own State Farm Insurance agency at the Lake in 2003.

"Without a doubt, that's my profession, being a part of such a great community in such a great state is truly a blessing," he said. "My hobby is fishing.

"But if you go out there and catch bigger fish than anyone else and get paid to do it, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me."

The roots of his love for fishing? As good as it gets.

"It all really started with my mother (Nam)," he said. "She was a blue-collar worker, single-headed household, and the best memories of my childhood are fishing on the banks of the Big Piney and Gasconade rivers near Waynesville.

"I loved it so much ... it was a special time we spent together."

Sykora has made more than $370,000 in his "non"-professional career, not to mention winning bass boats, trucks, and other goodies.

For catching fish.

Forget the Filet-O-Fish.

Give me a fishing pole.