WAYNE, W.Va. — Willie “Doodle” Adkins of Wayne, W.Va. will represent West Virginia in this year’s B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship bass tournament. It’s an impressive opportunity. He earned the right to be there by winning the organization’s southeastern regional on Lake Hartwell in Georgia two weeks ago. The victory was equally impressive.
But neither of those accomplishments can match the battle he had to overcome just to be there. Were it not for an aggravating stroke of bad luck two years ago, he wouldn’t have been around to enjoy those accomplishments.
“The doctor told me I had six months,” said Adkins talking about his situation on West Virginia Outdoors this past Saturday.
The story actually began two years ago when Adkins was on his way to Nashville to fish a national event. Around Winchester, Kentucky he was struck broadside by a 19-year old driver.
“At the time I was aggravated and I wanted to go down their, but he saved my life is what he did. If it hadn’t of happened, I wouldn’t be here today,” Adkins said.
The accident broke Adkins’ left arm. That was definitely an aggravation for a left handed fisherman. However, doctors who treated him at the University of Kentucky Medical Center’s emergency department gave him a much more sobering piece of information.
“They said, we hate to tell you but you have stage 4 kidney cancer,” Adkins said.
He was blown away by the news and soon was undergoing surgery back home at Cabell-Huntington Hospital to remove one of his diseased kidneys and to repair his badly broken arm. The arm wouldn’t heal properly. Infection set in and there was even some consideration given to amputation. Willie wanted a second opinion and went to West Virginia University Hospital in Morgantown.
“The doctor there said he thought he could fix it,” Willie explained.
The doctors replaced the bone in his left arm and within a few months, he was casting a line again, effectively and with his left hand. What’s more, doctors started him on an experimental cancer treatment and his cancer went into remission where it has stayed for two years. He was well enough to travel to Lake Hartwell in April and smoke the competition.
Over three competition days, Adkins caught just shy of 35 pounds. It was the most consistent fishing he’s ever enjoyed. He found bedded fish when nobody else could and was able to keep them a secret even for the third day of the tournament. In Willie’s mind, it was meant to be.
“The very first fish I caught was a six pounder. It started off good and the whole tournament, it just played out,” he said.
On the final day of the tournament, Adkins had two small fish in his creel and happened to stumble on fish breaking the surface. He was able to cull both of those fish and upsize his stringer significantly that day.
“It started good and it ended up good, when you’re going to win it, it’s just meant to be,” he said.
Although sometimes when it doesn’t start good, like a 19 year old driver broadsides your truck and boat, it could also be meant to be.