(WTOL) - For as long as Matt Vermilyea can remember, fishing has always been one of his passions.
"My stepfather bought us boys a fishing kit from Sears ago. Back in the days when you ordered stuff, all your school clothes were ordered and you picked them up in the fall, well we got a fishing package," said Vermilyea.
But it wasn't until a severe motor-cross accident caused Matt to stop competing on the track, and start competing on the water.
"I got to experience a helicopter ride from Marion, Ohio to St. V's. I spent a week in the hospital with broken ribs and internal injuries. And then about a year and a half after that I broke my right knee really bad and had to have some reconstructive stuff done and at that point there was no point in getting on the motorcycle anymore," said Vermilyea.
So the Perrysburg man sold his motor-cross equipment and bought a boat. And for the last 12 years he's been, studying, perfecting his craft, all while traveling nationwide to compete.
"If you want something you have to keep pressing. That's what it's been like for me," said Vermilyea.
Over the years he's climbed the ladder, finally making it to the top tier, bass master elite.
"There was tons to learn, and I think that learning and that growing in that sports has been another thing that's kept me in it," said Vermilyea.
Recently, Vermilyea was ranked as one of 110 best anglers in the nation.
While the cost to compete is an obstacle and Matt says he's looking for more sponsors, he's says it doesn't deter him to keep pursuing it. Instead, he says he wants to see competitive fishing become a mainstay in Toledo.
"If we could somehow make Toledo a hub to bring those big events here, that would be, that would be an awesome thing in my opinion," said Vermilyea.
Although that's a work in progress, Vermilyea also says he wants to continue working with getting the youth out of the house and involved in outdoor activities like fishing.
"Yeah you can catch fish on a video game, but it's not the same. I love watching a kid catch their first fish, it's a really emotional experience," said Vermilyea.
And whether he's competing or not, Vermilyea says there's nothing better than being on the water.
"It's cheap therapy. You're out on the water, it's just a real peaceful atmosphere," said Vermilyea.