Beyond the Pond–Angela Dudley

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Editor’s Note: In this edition of Beyond the Pond, Jody Only caught up with Angela Dudley, wife of the current number one angler in the world David Dudley. 

by Jody Only

“River side on Saturday night and Sunday mornin’ church goin’ kinda boy” – Lauren Alaina, “One of those Boys” from the 2011 album Wildflower

“We met through some friends and for the next six months we were spending time together as friends – fishing and stuff- and then he started talking about faith and church and I knew this was the guy for me; I kissed him first,” recalled Angela Dudley, wife of 3-time FLW Angler of the Year David Dudley.

AngelaProposalFollowing their six month friendship with nine months of dating, Dudley decided to make it permanent and on a trip to visit family, he popped the question that would turn his girlfriend into his fiancé and eventually his wife. “It was a total shock to me – completely unexpected,” said Mrs. Dudley as she thought back to the day in 2002. “He wasn’t charming; it felt more like a friendship – not that serious. I just had absolutely no idea he was going to ask, let alone that he would ask that day.”

Mrs. Dudley comes from a large family that includes eight siblings and four cousins that were raised together and their trip to visit them around Easter was the backdrop that her bass fishing beau chose to surprise her with the life-changing query. “He wanted everyone to go to the lake for the day,” she remembered. “I thought he meant the guys and us girls would stay home. I hadn’t seen my sisters and my mom in a long time and I wanted to visit with them; but he wanted everyone to go to the lake – even the girls. We went back and forth I said stay, he said go, I said stay, he said go and I was getting mad about it – I didn’t know why we had to go; we finally went.”

The day at the lake started out slow for the girls who “stood around” while the guys fished from the bank. At one point a request was given to reel in a certain rod “to see if the bait needed to be changed”. “I did it,” Mrs. Dudley continued. “And when I picked it up, it was really heavy and I figured he was playing some kind of joke on me – that he had tied an old tire on or something. When I got it in, I saw it was a fish that he had carved and it said ‘you caught me hook, line and sinker’ and it had a bunch of sinkers on it and a ring was tied on it – I still didn’t get it.”

Angela1Describing the event, Mrs. Dudley noted she wasn’t picture-ready for the big day, having went to the lake in old jeans and her nephew’s sweatshirt; but her entire family swarmed the couple with cameras and video cameras as her soon-to-be fiancé dropped to one knee. “I couldn’t believe it – All I could think was, oh my gosh, he threw a ring out there into the lake and I just started laughing and laughing and laughing,” she chuckled at the memory. “He asked me to marry him and I just kept on laughing. He had to ask again. He was holding his breath, until I could finally answer and I said yes.”
Within a few months, the Dudley’s tied the knot.

“My family are all big dreamers and hard workers; so they thought nothing of my husband-to-be being a professional fishermen,” she explained. “As for me, I didn’t really understand. I had never heard of anyone making money fishing; but I saw him earning money guiding and I thought that was what he meant. Then he flew me out to Lake St. Clair when he made the Top-10 cut and that was my first tournament experience. He came in 2nd, got paid and everyone was asking for his autograph. I kept thinking – this is so weird. It was a whole different picture of being professional fishermen.”

Angela3After ten years of marriage, seven tournament wins and three AOY titles, the Dudley’s have expanded their twosome with five children – Mason, Vance, Anna, Nina and Selah. Although at first the Dudley’s were a traveling group, with the extension of the family and the start of school for the kids, they thought it best that she take root on the home front, as opposed traveling the tournament trail. She runs their fishing business as well as other family businesses from their home in Lynchburg, Va.

As she recollected her years as a youngster, Mrs. Dudley said, “If someone would’ve told me even ten years ago this is where I would be today – I would say they were crazy; but I am everything I want to be. I still have a lot of big dreams and I’m almost there. I love our lives and I love that Dave makes a living following his passion. The longer I’ve known him, the more I know this is what he is supposed to do.”
While fishing is her husband’s calling, Mrs. Dudley noted that the fruits of their labor in the bass fishing family life has allowed them to invest in another passion – to build a church. The Dudley’s operate their own ministry known as One Body In Christ (OBIC) Ministries on 89-acres that includes ball fields, fishing ponds and horses. She hopes to expand their outreach by authoring a series of books and a movie set in the 1600’s outlining the break of the church.

Angela4Their deep-rooted faith is what attracted each one to the other and what carries them through their everyday lives. As she stressed the importance of this she stated, “I don’t how people do it without faith. Professional fishing can be a hard life – you have to put everything on the line everyday and ask your family to do the same. If people didn’t know God was with them – to hold them and guide them it would be a hard life. Lots of guys like to fish – it doesn’t mean that God has called them to so; just because it is a ‘like’ doesn’t mean it is a calling.”

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