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Edinboro national champ snares muskie on Chautauqua Lake

Submitted Photo UFC lightweight fighter Gregor Gillespie, left, and 13-year-old Drew Hind are pictured with their 37-inch muskellunge caught Friday morning on Chautauqua Lake.

Kevin Hind has caught hundreds of muskellunge over the years.

He’s only caught one with an internationally-ranked UFC fighter.

A teacher and basketball coach at Randolph Central School by trade, Hind’s fishing hobby has grown more serious over the years.

He’s at the point now where he offers his services periodically for charters on Chautauqua Lake.

In fact, Hind and his 13-year-old son Drew have become so successful in the past several years that they have won regional bass fishing tournaments and been featured in magazines.

But the thrill they experienced together Friday morning may top everything else.

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Gregor Gillespie was a two-time New York State Public High School Athletic Association Large School wrestling champion during his time at Webster-Schroeder High School.

He then took his talents to Edinboro University where he was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American, including a national champion at 149 pounds in 2007. With the Scots, Gillespie set school records for wins (152), wins as a freshman (40) and highest winning percentage (.917).

Following his collegiate career, Gillespie eventually found the world of mixed martial arts where he started his professional career with a 13-0 record before losing his first fight in November.

While Gillespie has obvious ability in the ring, he also has a love for fishing.

Growing up in the Rochester area, Gillespie got into fishing at a young age, but became distanced from the sport as wrestling took over his high school and college days.

Now 33, fishing has reclaimed a spot in his heart and that’s what brought him to Chautauqua Lake this past week.

“I’m ready to head back to Long Island to my normal life schedule even though the gyms haven’t opened,” Gillespie said Saturday morning. “I wanted to get a muskie trip in before Long Island.”

After staying over in the Salamanca area with an old friend and two-time Small School state wrestling champion for the Warriors, Kane Smith, on Thursday evening, Gillespie and his friend Jeff LeRoy set out for the 45-minute drive to Prendergast Point to launch Gillespie’s boat.

“Chautauqua is not a lake that you can leave (Rochester) in the morning. You leave the night before and typically camp near Chautauqua,” Gillespie said. ” … We wanted to be in the water by 5:30 or 6 (a.m.).

That’s when disaster struck.

After going out in the boat just two days prior in Irondequoit Bay without an issue, Gillespie’s boat wouldn’t get into gear.

“It’s a two-stroke engine. It’s 17 years old and a little finicky. … It started, but anytime we put it into gear, it would die,” Gillespie said. “We did everything we could. We exhausted our options so we got some food and checked with two local marinas and they told us there was no way to get it back that day.”

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Gillespie has forged a friendship with Zach Baker of Baker Baits in his hometown of Rochester over the years, so much so that Baker is actually a sponsor of Gillespie’s fighting career.

Unfamiliar with anybody in the Chautauqua Lake area, Gillespie turned to his longtime friend for advice Friday morning.

“I called Baker on Friday morning and thought, ‘Maybe it’s a long shot. It’s been an amazing year for muskies so far, do any of your guide friends have a day free to take us out?'” Gillespie said of his phone call. “Five minutes later, Baker called back and said ‘I got you.'”

Baker took a shot in the dark — almost literally that early in the morning — and asked Hind if he was available to take Gillespie on the lake Friday in hopes of catching a muskellunge.

Luckily, Hind has also established a relationship with Baker over the years.

“I met Baker at a muskie tournament four or five years ago. Drew and I won the tournament and in the boat next to us when we caught the winning fish was Baker. He stood up with another guy and started clapping for us while beeping the horn,” Hind said. “He and Drew became buddies at the weigh-in that day and over the years we’ve been able to get some of his baits because of that connection.”

Despite having a busy summer calendar, Hind actually had a pretty open day Friday and was happy to oblige.

“I had seen Baker’s post a couple of years ago about taking a UFC fighter out. I looked (Gillespie) up quick. We were sitting home not doing much so I told him we were in,” Hind said. “I knew Drew wouldn’t want to miss out on the experience of taking somebody famous in the UFC world out on the boat.

“Right off the bat on the phone, I could tell (Gillespie) was genuinely excited and had tons of energy,” Hind added. “He gave Drew great messages throughout the day about hard work and commitment.”

“Once Kevin got talking, I could tell he was a genuine, good dude. Drew’s his first mate and Baker said those guys know that body of water about as well as anybody,” Gillespie said. “The boat was ready because they did a trip the day before. All the gear was ready.”

Less than 10 minutes into the day, Gillespie, LeRoy and the Hinds reeled in a 37-inch muskellunge.

“We learned so much. They have a 19- or 20-foot boat with eight lines running. I run four lines and get confused. They run eight and didn’t have a single tangle all day,” Gillespie said. “Within the first 10 minutes the rod bent over and the fish started zipping line. What a silver lining to a really bad day.”

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The day didn’t end there as the quartet spent another five or six hours on the lake sharing stories from their competitive lives — Gillespie’s in the ring and Hind’s on the basketball court.

“Gregor talked about his similar beliefs of hard work,” said Hind, whose older son Tyler just graduated from Randolph and is a two-time Post-Journal Player of the Year. “He had a father who was tough on him. I shared some of the things I’ve shared with Tyler and Drew. You need that, you need someone pushing you. The first guy he thanked after winning the national title was his father. Tyler’s salutatorian speech was kind of the same thing.”

While Drew surely has a successful basketball career coming up for him in the future, Gillespie was overly impressed with the younger Hind’s ability in the boat.

“Drew is a heck of a fisherman,” Gillespie said. “Going with those guys, I thought ‘I don’t know as much as I thought I did.'”

Gillespie said despite all the rods in the water, all at different depths, the younger Hind knew what to do every stop of the way.

“It’s not just going out on a boat and throwing a line in. When you go out with somebody who knows exactly what they’re doing, it’s not luck,” Gillespie said. “It’s a system and it’s very calculated. Watching Drew and Kevin set the lines and how they’re driving the boat, it was such an eye-opening thing to see. Some people think you just throw a worm and a bobber and hope for the best. That is not what it is.”

Tyler who is bound for Daemen College in the fall to play NCAA Division II basketball for the Wildcats, missed Friday’s trip and as a fan of the UFC world was upset by it when he found out later in the day.

Despite not meeting Gillespie in person, Tyler sent the 12th-ranked lightweight fighter a message that night challenging him in the ring.

“Friday night they went back out and sent me a video clip of Tyler,” Gillespie said. “He said, ‘Hey my dad didn’t tell me you were coming on the boat. If I would’ve come, I would’ve shown you how to fight.'”

An unlikely match, the Hinds’ gained one more fan for their basketball careers Friday morning and Gillespie gained a few more fans who will be rooting for him whenever he makes his return to The Octagon.

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