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East Machias kayak fisherman recovers from leukemia and COVID-19 on road to national event

Rodney Merritt placed in the top quarter in LaCrosse, Wisc. to qualify
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 10:19 PM EDT
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EAST MACHIAS, Maine (WABI) - It’s been more than pre-fishing and research that’s led East Machias’s Rodney Merritt to a national kayak fishing competition next year.

Merritt made the journey back to kayak fishing after battling leukemia a year ago.

“That really reduced my energy, but I kept it up with the support of my family and wife,” said Merritt.

Not only that, he returned from a COVID-19 hospital stay where he was still using oxygen throughout the Tourney X stop on the B.A.S.S. Tour.

“It was cutting it razor thin for me to even make it out there to LaCrosse, Wisc. on the upper Mississippi,” said Merritt.

After qualifying for Nationals in the top quarter in LaCrosse, Wisc., he’s hoping to use his experience to his advantage.

“If you’re going to go three miles from the landing to your fishing spot, pace yourself. Sometimes the younger guys will burn themselves out, and halfway there I’ll go sailing by them,” said Merritt.

His goals have changed from just showing up.

“It’s going to light a fire under me. I don’t plan on going down there and just attending. I want to be on the stage,” said Merritt.

He said he’s hoping for a winning five-fish catch north of 100 inches.

Merritt added that he’s dealt with blood clots in his legs and lungs on his road to recovery.

The B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak series national event takes place in South Carolina in March 2022.

Photos Courtesy- Rodney Merritt, Ryan Lilly

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