KA Y AK B A SS IN’
Damian “Big Fish” Thao
By Steve Melander
Damian Thao has been fishing as far back as he can remember. He recounted stories of his father taking him bank fishing on the central California lakes for sunfish as a young child. He soon started experimenting with lures and found himself catching more bass than sunfish. You could say that is when he got “hooked”.
In 2015, he started making “fun fishing” YouTube videos from the shore and out of his first paddle kayak.
In 2016, he was introduced to tournament bass fishing by his buddy Tony Gonzales. “He was the first person to put me on a boat and give me the opportunity to try competitive bass fishing”, said Thao. They fished several local tournaments that year and even won a few. That experience lit the fire for Thao, and he has not looked back since.
His first kayak tournament was the 2016 Bass Mob Anglers (BMA) tournament where he competed against kayak and big boat anglers and finished in second place.
“It felt great to compete against the big boats and beat them in a kayak”, commented Thao. After that finish, he knew he had a bright future in the sport.
He spent 2017 honing his skills and fishing a few YAB and CVKF events. He picked up his first win in 2017 at a YAB event on the California Delta. That win gave him the confidence to go full speed for 2018.
He competed in all circuits in Central and Northern California to include: CVKF, KBF, MKA and YAB. He quickly amassed an impressive record and other anglers began to take notice. By the time the season was over, he had multiple wins, two Angler of the Year (AOY) titles and found himself in the top-10 frequently.
The 2019 season has started strong as well. At the time of article submission, he is sitting in the lead for CVKF
AOY, he finished 3rd in points for Angler of the Year in MKA and is in the top-five for YAB AOY. He has three 2nd place finishes in major events and the season is only half over.
SECRET TO SUCCESS
What is most impressive about Thao is his consistency. When asked how he is able to stay so consistent he humbly replied, “Time on the water and