The “Livewell” is a new link on Extreme Bass Anglerz in which I will write a monthly (maybe even bi-weekly) column about Extreme, events, and I may even profile some of our members. Who knows what will show up in the Livewell?
Interview with the "The Veteran" Bobby Lineweaver
Bobby Lineweaver is no stranger to club and regional bass fishing in the Shenandoah Valley. He has been fishing tournaments for over 35 years, more years than some Extreme members have been alive. I have been wanting to interview him for some time, but, do to time and other things, the interview was put on hold. When I first moved to Woodstock and was trying to get in to tournament fishing, Bobby's name would always come up. I would often see him at Lake Laura fishing with his family and he would share endless stories of tournament fishing with me. I got to know him well and consider Bobby and Joey good friends. And, years later, Bobby and Joey would join Extreme and have been a part of the family since it's inception in 2006. Bobby would always take time to share pointers and help new members out, welcoming them with a smile. But, once on the water, the ole Lineweaver's were impressive. Since Extreme started, Bobby and Joey have finished in the Top 5 in points every year. A pretty impressive statistic considering the competition of Extreme. So, I thought it would be neat to get Bobby's view of bass fishing, from over three decades of fishing. Below are his thoughts.
Pictured above, Bobby and Joey Lineweaver with their 17.67 first place bag on the Rappahannock River, May 22, 2010.
You have been fishing tournaments for over 35 years. Tell us a little bit about the biggest difference you see in tournaments from 35 years ago until today? The competition, with all the new equipment that is out there, you have to keep up in order to be good.
What has been you most memorable tournament experience and why? Joey and I were fishing the Potomac River and Joey turned around and told me I was burning his fish.
You fish with your son, Joey, in Extreme and since fishing Extreme, you guys have always finished in the Top 5 of the Year End Points Race. What strengths do you guys have fishing as a team? We not only compete against the other teams, we compete against each other, this makes us stronger.
In your 35 years of tournament fishing, what is your favorite body of water to fish and why? The Potomac River, we enjoy fishing this body of water.
If you could only use one lure, what would be that lure and why? Jig and Pig or the spinnerbait, both can be used on any body of water.
If you had to give advice to younger anglers wanting to fish tournaments or join a club and they haven't fished tournaments before, what advice would you give them? Start out slow. This is really a costly sport. Try to go as a non-boater first so you can learn from others.
You have been a loyal supporter of Extreme since we started. What are some of the things you enjoy about Extreme Bass Anglerz and why? The group of guys and girls are great. We compete hard against each other while remaining close to each other.
How would you rank the competition in Extreme Bass Anglerz? Very good. I would rank our club tops with any club in the state.
You and Joey are currently in a tight race for first place in the points race. What are your thoughts about the rest of the year, what lakes/rivers are you looking forward to fishing and what stop on the tournament trail are you dreading and why? We will take one tournament at a time and try to do our best.
Is this the year that you and Joey take the honors of "Team of the Year"? We will try. If we don't get team of the year, it will still be a great year. I enjoy fishing with this club and especially with my son Joey.
Interview with Kip Hall & Danny Sherman
2008 Extreme Bass Anglerz Classic Champions
Any team that wins an Extreme tournament, certainly can pat themselves on the shoulder. The competition is always tough. And, for the 2008 Classic, there were 20 teams shooting for that elusive Classic title. Many teams had spent hours practicing and learning the lake, and for most, it was a relatively new lake, with most anglers having little on the water experience. However, Kip Hall and Danny Sherman, took home the glory, weighing in five fish limits each day for a combined weight of 19.91 pounds. The edged out Melvin Bowling by a mere .60 of an ounce for the victory. A remarkable finish that made for an unforgettable experience.
Kip and Danny are not only great fisherman, but, they are great guys, always willing to lend a helping hand as well as provide important feedback as members of the Extreme Bass Anglerz Board of Directors. Below are answers to an interview I conducted with them, as they gave their thoughts on the Classic and other insights regarding Extreme Bass Anglerz. Enjoy reading and again, Congrats Kip and Danny on a truly awesome Classic!
You guys win the Classic on a relatively new lake for both of you. Not to mention, beating some really good anglers. What was your approach and preperation like heading into the Classic? (Danny) - To slow down and not to over fish really good spots. (Kip) - I spent time doing a lot of research, talking with other anglers, looking through maps and internet browsing. I was also fortunate to have participated in a 100 plus boat tournament three years ago during the same time of season. So, I looked back at what I did then to narrow down my search for fish. By having our first three stops in mind, this helped to get us on a routine. Prefishing the weekend before and checking these spots gave me total confidence that our fish would be there. Prefishing also allowed us to look at other spots in case things did not work out the weekend of the tournament.
Smith Mountain Lake was four feet low, and for Extreme, a CLEAR lake. Tell us a little bit about the pattern you developed? (Danny) - We were able to find some creeks that had some stained water. (Kip) - I believe we felt like colored water would suit us better. Also, while prefishing, the fish seemed to bite a little easier in colored water. The pattern we fished was almost the same as the one and only tournament I had fished in 2005 and about the same time of year as well. So, going over some old spots that had bait was what worked for us. Danny carried us on Saturday without a doubt. The crankbait bite I had hammered on while prefishing did not develop at all Saturday. So, I knew I had to make some changes. When you have both teammates whacking fish, it's going to be a good day. Our Day 2 pattern was not much different as far as spots go than Day 1. We had culled fish early both days which allowed us to try a lot of different things. I will say that Sunday, we fished the same 200 yard stretch of water all day and caught fish all day. Saturday, I think we fished two or three spots at the most. So, in short, our pattern was colored water with structure, near a creek channel with bait.
In a sense, we had two completely different days weather wise for the Classic. Day 1, was cloudy with a steady wind. Day 2, was clear blue bird skies with occasional wind. Did you have to change each day or did your pattern hold true for both days? (Danny) - Both days were the same for me. (Kip) - I don't think Danny changed much but I knew I needed to because the bite I had prefishing was not there on Day 1. Day 2, after making changes, we both culled up fish all day. We felt really good about the fish we had, but, we felt with the class of fisherman we have in our series, we knew it was going to be close.
I think this story line got lost in all the drama of the Classic, but this is the second tournament in a row that you guys won (they won the September 20, 2008 Lake Anna Tournament). To win a tournament in Extreme, you have to fish flawlessly but to win two means things were clicking. Tell us a little bit about the "roll" you guys were on. (Danny) - Kip deserves credit for this because he fished the week before and was able to locate fish that pretty much stayed in the same area that he prefished. (Kip) - Wow. We had paid our dues over the few years we have fished together. Anna was what we needed to have the confidence going into the Classic.
You guys, certainly in the club and I'd say beyond the club have a reputation of being Lake Anna guys, tough to beat at Anna. But, what a lot of people don't know is that most of the lakes and rivers on the 2008 schedule were either new to you guys or you have only fished a few times. How did you approach the 2008 schedule? (Danny) - We went into the season with very open minds and found some golden horseshoes that ended up where the sun doesn't shine. (Kip) - I don't think we look at Anna like it's ours to win or lose. The thing from fishing there a lot is how it changes so fast from one day to the next. If a team can figure out a pattern that gives them an average of four 2lb fish and a good kicker fish, that team will win most tournaments everytime. As far as the other lakes and rivers we have fished, it was a lot of homework, phone calls, reading old articles, internet information, as well as at least a day of prefishing when we could work it into our schedule.
You both definately fish well as a team. What are your strengths and weaknesses and how do you compliment each other on the water? (Danny) - We are both throwing different things. Example would be if Kip is throwing cranks, I'm throwing plastics or vice versa. (Kip) - I think we try not to take things too serious, after all, it's supposed to be fun. I could not have a better partner to fish with. We seem to have just enough of a different style that it works really well. I am trying to broaden my strengths so I feel more confident with fishing many different lures and techniques. My weaknesses probably would be sticking with something too long as well as the area I am fishing. If it is not working, it is time to change or move.
Neither one of you are new to tournament fishing as you both have fished larger regional tournaments. What is your opinion of the competition level in Extreme Bass Anglerz? (Danny) - It is very competitive. We have some guys that could fish at the next level and beyond. (Kip) - I have only been tournament fishing consistently now for three full years and I can tell you this, the competition is easily as strong and as competitive as the other series I have fished. Probably more competitive because your not fishing the same body of water or someone's home lake or river.
For someone new or for someone looking to join a bass club, what would you tell them about joining Exreme Bass Anglerz? (Danny) - The fellowship of the club members far outweighs the competition of the sport. (Kip) - This is the place to be. When Danny and I were invited to fish the open at Anna before we were members, it was easy to see at the weigh in how much fun the club was having. To me, it is about having fun, telling stories, joking with other members, and mixing in a little competition. It is fishing with fun and a chance to win some money. It is the series to fish! I have also never seen these guys more willing to help another angler out, you won't find that in another series and I think that is what sets apart Extreme Bass Anglerz from any other tournament series. I am very proud to be a part of such a good group of guys and fisherman.
This year there was definately a buzz about the Classic with guys working extremely hard at figuring out Smith (prefishing) to take home the crown. What does it feel like to beat 19 other boats and take the title? (Danny) - We didn't beat them, we were fortunate enough to find the fish and have those golden horseshoes. (Kip) - Man, it feels great. Danny and I have only fished for three years together and so many times we have come so close. It could not have worked out any better. Like Danny said to me "the way everything ended with the points and the Classic, no matter who the winners are, that is the way any series should end, the last tournament, the last day, the last ounce". How cool is that?
What are your thoughts about the 2009 Extreme Bass Anglerz Schedule as well as your thoughts about Extreme Bass Anglerz in general? (Danny) - Excited and looking forward to the 2009 season and getting to know the members better. (Kip) - My thoughts for the 09 schedule is that I am really excited about the change up and the addition of the Upper Bay as well as the evening tournament on the Potomac. I believe that by changing the schedule, you even the playing field and add a more competitive edge to the tournaments for everyone. As for how I feel about Extreme Bass Anglerz in general, it is a great group of anglers who enjoy doing what they do best, fishing! It is also good to be a part of a competitive atmosphere where everyone exhibits such good sportsmanship. No matter if you win or lose at these tournaments, you always walk away a winner knowing that you are participating among a group of anglers that have given it their best in the most wonderful sport of all, bass fishing!
Interview with Jeff Lugar and Ricky Fulk
In this segment of the "Livewell", I am interviewing the team that is currently ranked #1 in the points standings, Jeff Lugar and Ricky Fulk. It is mid-season for the Extreme Bass Anglerz, the next points tournament is not until August, and Jeff and Ricky lead the points race by two points. However, the boys have done well thus far and are hopeful they can continue their consistent fishing and chase down that elusive Extreme Bass Anglerz "Team of the Year" Award.
Jeff and Ricky, or should I say, Jeff "Tha Pope" Lugar and Ricky "The Reverend" Fulk have many years of tournament fishing experience. They have fished club level tournaments, regional tournaments, federations, opens, as well as Fisher's of Men. Jeff even qualified and fished in a BFL All-American tournament. They are fresh off of an Extreme victory, as they recently won the Chickahominy/James River tournament.
It has been fun getting to know them and of course, I love giving the ole boys a hard time, especially nicknaming them. Below are their thoughts concerning the 2008 season among other things. Enjoy!
You guys have three top five finishes thus far in the 2008 season. What has been the key to your consistency and finishes thus far? (Jeff) - Practice and time on the water. Rick and I have experience on most of the bodies of water we fish so that helps give us an idea where to start looking when we practice. So, we practice, formulate a game plan, and then try and execute what we have found. We also discuss the fishing with some of the other guys in the club. We don't discuss spots, but, we discuss what we think the fish are doing which also helps us put together a game plan. (Ricky) - Time on the water preparing for every tournament.
Your tournament history on the James River is pretty good, a win, and several top five finishes in larger regional tournaments (Fishers of Men). What was the key to your victory on June 6th? Tell us a little bit about your pattern, did you fish the James, Chick, or both and give us some hints on what type of fishing you were doing (finesse, power, structure, etc...). (Jeff) - I think the key was staying with the falling tide most of the day and having areas to fish that no one else was fishing. We fished the James River all day and caught our fish in five feet of water or less on wood and rock. We power fished with spinnerbaits and crankbaits to catch the five we weighed in. (Ricky) - We fished the James. We fished areas that we have fished in the past, with a few changes that produced at the end. We were power fishing.
Right now, you guys are in sitting in the drivers seat, first place in the points standings. What are your thoughts heading into the second half of the season, fishing the Rapp, Potomac, and then ending the regular season on Anna in September? (Jeff) - I like the places we are going to fish during the second half of the year. I think we can catch fish at these places but the challenge for us will be to catch the right size of fish. All of these places have good size fish and I know someone will catch good stringers at these tournaments so we can't afford to not catch fish or to catch small limits. We will try to put the practice time in and see what we can figure out. (Ricky) - We will fish the places, giving each place a thought of how we fished them in the past, and then go to each place and pre-fish them.
What tournament stop coming up are you the most worried/concerned about and why? (Jeff) - I would have to say the Potomac worries me the most. I have had some really good finishes there in the past and some really bad finishes there. There are so many ways to catch them there, that in the past, I have tried to do too much and it has hurt my finishes. This is the one tournament that I think a lot of teams will catch them good so a poor catch here can drop you down in the standings quite a ways. (Ricky) - The Potomac. We always do good pre-fishing. But in the past, the tournament day, we for some reason during this time of year, it has been tough for us at times.
When anglers speak about Extreme Bass Anglerz, one of the things that is mentioned a lot is the quality of anglers from top to bottom, that can win any tournament. You guys have been fishing for a lot of years, what are your thoughts about the quality of anglers fishing Extreme? (Jeff) - I have fished Federation's, BFL's, and various open tournaments in both Ohio and Virginia and I can tell you that the guys in this club are as competitive as any I have fished against. The sportsmanship and competitiveness of the teams in the Extreme Bass Anglerz is top notch. Look at the number of limits that come to the scales each tournament and look at the number of people that practice for each tournament. These guys are serious about their fishing. The other thing I think that speaks for the quality of fisherman in the Extreme club is the weights it takes to win the tournaments. The winning weights these tournaments have are right on par with the weights it takes to win other tournaments fished on the same bodies of water. (Ricky) - Well, a lot of the guys, I have been fishing with for a long time and they are getting to be stronger competitors, at any level. So with saying that, you better have your A game when you fish in the Extreme League.
Give us a little insight about a day on the water with Jeff and Ricky. How do you compliment one another, what are each of your strengths, and how do you approach tournaments, favorite lure, techniques, etc...? (Jeff) - If you haven't noticed, I don't like to stay in one spot very long. To spend a tournament day with me is to spend the day running and gunning. I like to power fish whenever I can, so most days you will find me rolling down the bank throwing every rod I have out on the deck at the fish. I think Rick compliments the team with his knowledge of the bodies of water we fish. Rick is also good at catching fish whether he is fishing next to me or behind me. He is able to fish a lot of different techniques so we aren't forced to try and catch fish the same way every tournament. Rick is also calm during the tournament day where I tend to get worked up if the fish aren't coming in the boat like I think they should. He stays calm which helps me calm down. He also has a way of asking me questions about what the fish should be doing that given day which helps keep me thinking about the fishing and focused on what we are trying to do. The back and forth discussions we have helps us make better on the water decisions. I would say my strengths as well as my favorite way to fish is with spinnerbaits, shallow crankbaits, and pitching/skipping jigs to docks. My approach to a tournament is to practice and hopefully find a pattern/technique that is catching fish and then on the tournament day, execute on what I have found. (Ricky) - We have been fishing together for several years now, using each other on the water as much as off. We know each others strengths and that has made both of us better fishermen and friends. We fish well together and always can joke with each other while we fish while being competitive through the day. We spend a lot of time talking about the upcoming tournaments before every tournament as well as going to the places many times before each tournament.
You guys have been fishing with Extreme for two years now. What has your experience been like with Extreme and what are your thoughts about Extreme and where the club is going? (Jeff) - The experience has been great. In the past two years, I have learned new places like the Rapp and have met a lot of good people. I think Extreme Bass Anglerz is a well run club with a lot of hard working members. I can see this club getting bigger and better. I can even see the club getting to the point that there is a waiting list of people wanting to join and have the oppurtunity to fish against some very good fishermen. The paybacks are not bad either for the small entry fees that we have. (Ricky) - Getting to know more fellow fishermen that have joined Extreme and spending time talking with the guys in the parking lots and motels. Extreme is one big happy family, everybody just gets along well with each other and compliments each other on a job well done. I think the club is going to grow as years get better because we are the Extreme club and everybody will want to be a part of the best thing going on. So, if you think you are an Extreme fishermen, lets just see how extreme you can handle fishing along side of some of the better fishermen in the Valley. That's for you Tim, thought you might like that saying. Can I get an Amen for that one?
Ok, the big question. Will Jeff Lugar and Ricky Fulk take the prestigous Extreme Bass Anglerz "Team of the Year" Award in 2008? (Jeff) - Are you trying to set me up with this one? I would love to say yes we are going to win the points but the reality is, there are too many good fishermen in this club that want the same thing. As far as I can tell, all of the teams want to win so whomever does win will have to earn it. I can say that Rick and I don't plan on changing any thing we are doing. We will continue to try and practice for each tournament, figure out a pattern, and then try to execute the pattern on tournament day. If we find the right fish at each tournament, execute and put the fish in the boat, then who knows what will happen? (Ricky) - All I can say about this is, I'm going to keep fishing the way I have all year, trying to be consistent and bring in a good limit. And, if it happens, it will be an extreme effort between the two of us.
Extreme will be heading south for the "CLASSIC", going to Smith Mountain Lake in October. The Classic is also a points tournament. What are your thoughts about Smith in October and what has your experience on Smith been like? (Jeff) - I like that we are going to Smith but it is a love hate thing for me. I have had good finishes there in the past and some bombs there in the past. I think the key for us will be to catch fish both days. Smith is famous for big bags one day and then nothing that you can identify changes the next day, but you can't catch a fish. This will be an interesting tournament. (Ricky) - This one could be a shootout. It will have have a lot to do with the weather. I have had good days this time of year but it could also be a tuffy if there is a lot of pressure on the lake.
Extreme diversified the schedule for 2008, traveling to some of the best lakes and rivers in Virginia at some of the best times. What are your thoughts about the 2008 schedule? (Jeff) - I like the 2008 schedule. I think it has made me a better fisherman by forcing me out of my comfort zone. I have had to fish several different techniques to continue to catch fish at each of the tournaments. This schedule also led Rick and I to our first win with the Extreme Bass Anglerz, so I can't complain. (Ricky) - I think the 08 schedule was a good one because we all got to fish different places that some have never fished. And, this shows you different ways to catch fish at different times of the year at the different places.
Interview with FLW Tour Pro Dave Lefebre
In this segment of the "Livewell", I was able to interview one of the top professional bass fisherman in the world, Dave Lefebre. I have known Dave since the late 90's, and consider him not only a great ambassador to professional bass fishing, but also a good friend. In every article you read about professional bass fishing, when the writers and experts talk about the elite and most consistent anglers on the professional tour, Dave's name is always mentioned.
Dave currently fishes the FLW Tour and FLW Series, where he has amassed career winnings of $809,411.00. He has won four tournaments and has 30 top 10 finishes. Early in his career, he fished the Bassmaster Tour and collected $29,900.00, not to mention a trip to the 2003 Bassmasters Classic. Dave was the 2006 FLW Series and Stren Series Angler of the Year. He is the only professional angler to ever qualify for all four of professional bass fishing's championships in the same year. In 2003, he qualified for the BFL All-American, Stren Series Championship, FLW Tour Championship, and the Bassmasters Classic. His sponsors include: Kelloggs, Yamaha, Ranger Boats, TABU Tackle, Garmin, Rapala, Kinami Baits, Gamma Technologies, Reel Grip, Solar Bat, Champion Ford, Setyr Rods, Penetrater Weights, Minn Kota, Vexilar, Fisherman's Marker, Abu Garcia, Spiderwire, and Mizmo.
His accolades in professional fishing are outstanding, but more so, he is a good person. I was able to go to the weigh in at the 2003 FLW Tour Championship in Richmond, Virginia. After Dave weighed in, I was sitting with my father in the stands waiting to talk with him. He walks off the stage, with reporters and cameramen trying to get interviews, when several young children approached him with pens and paper hoping to get his autograph. He stops, kneels down, talks with them at length, jokes, and signs their hats and paper. The kid's eyes were as big as softballs as they ran to their parents. That is what it is all about.
Below are his thoughts regarding all aspects of professional bass fishing as well as issues club and weekend anglers face. Enjoy and be sure to check out his website, www.davelefebre.com which is one of the most informative fishing websites out there.
What has been the greatest accomplishment of your fishing career? Toss up between my first tour win at Old Hickory in 2004 and winning both (AOY) Angler of the Year titles in 2006. If I had to pick one, I'd say 2006 though
Tell us a little about your preperation before a tournament, studying maps, etc... How much time do you prefish and what is your game plan while prefishing? I do a lot of study through old printed articles (Bassmaster, FLW Outdoors, Tournament Angler News) and on the internet. I usually devote a full day or two to searches online. I mainly like to know what a good weight is on the particular lake for the time of year I will be there, where the best ramps are all over the lake, the best tackle shops, campgrounds, etc... Anything else I find is just a bonus. I usually begin looking at maps and the GPS after I arrive at the location. I've always prefished 4 days, so with the new official practice periods, I'm right in my groove. I spend countless hours in the boat before and between practice days, just rigging and messing with stuff, that's the best part for me, I love it!
As far as my game plan... I like to at least see everything that is within our tournament limits so I know everything the lake has to offer, cover and structure wise. I usually run the entire lake on the first practice day after the morning is over. However, I really try to stick to seasonal patterns and focus on one area, or sometimes two where I know the event can be won, and simply try to learn it completely. I focus on not only finding fish, but trying to find where they might go if something bad happens weather related, which always does. If I develop a pattern or two in a certain area, by running the entire lake I can have an idea where I need to go to expand on the fly, during the actual tournament, especially, after making a cut.
How do you approach a lake/river that you have never fished before? (Same as above). The only other thing I can say here is that I try to compare the new place to somewhere I've done well before, usually a smaller lake around home. That alone can help your confidence.
Walk us through a normal day for you on the FLW Tour. Check out my website and go to the "Front Deck". There's a lot of video there that show things mostly pertaining to fishing. Other than that, I get up early (before light) and sneak out so I don't wake the family and generally come back after dark to eat dinner and play with the kids a little. I try to be in bed by 10 pm. I have a lot of "other stuff" I do too... like visit a Wal-Mart in every city we fish on the FLW Tour. Just go there and talk to people, sign autographs with a couple of other pros for two hours in the evening. There's always a photo shoot or video thing going on for a sponsor, or the up-coming TV show I have to do sometime during practice, and usually some other type of appearance mixed in there too during the week, it's a hectic week. And, then when I don't make the cut, I am always taking an FLW sponsor out fishing on Saturday and Sunday in the morning and working the Family Fun Zone from noon until 4:00 pm. It's the complete opposite of what you might think, the actual first two days of the tournament are the easiest, most free days of the whole week. It's hibernation time after one of those Tour events let me tell you.
I think at one time or another, every club tournament angler dreams of becoming a pro angler. What advice would you give a club angler that has dreams of becoming a professional angler? Live it, breathe it, and be a sponge and grasp that...anything is possible. I have to firmly suggest getting a strong education in something first. It can be related to pro fishing in some manner...like business or fisheries management. It's just so hard to "break in" and having a backup plan should be heavily considered early on or the stress can eat you up, especially, if you have a wife and family to consider. And if you do "make it" fishing, having some business training will make you very attractive to sponsors and make the other side of pro bass fishing much easier on you. There is a ton of extra hard work in dealing with sponsors, promoting, and keeping up with everything that a lot of people don't realize comes with the job. Some people actually "break in" and then decide it's not worth it after all and go back fishing locally and working a "normal" job. Pro bass fishing is a demanding occupation for sure.
Next, on the fishing side, you need a severe, burning desire and a knowing that it "will happen". You need to listen more than you talk. Then, you need to win frequently in your area, beat up on your buddies so often that they think you're cheating. Sounds funny, but it's true. Anyone can get lucky once in a while and win a big one, but the guys I know that are living the dream were really hot sticks back home on many different lakes. Another thing (assuming you are very serious) surround yourself with positive people and don't let the negative doubting type of people get in your head. You may have to make some real changes in the friend department. If I'd listended to certain family members and friends 10 years ago, I'd still be a plastic inspector at Port Erie Plastics. I think deep down we all know our own limitations and what is possible and not possible for us, you'll know.
What does it take to be a professional fisherman (financially, physically, mentally, etc...)? We see all the good stuff on TV, radio, and internet, about the money anglers win, being sponsored, etc... But, what are some of the more grueling things associated with being a professional angler that maybe the average angler or fan might not be aware of? Refer to answer #4. Financially, you need quite a bit, especially with fuel the way it is now. I had zero money when I started and good sponsors were and still are the key. I win a decent amount of money each year, but still could probably not survive and support my family without Kelloggs and my other sponsors. It would be extremely tough at the very least.
Physically, it's not pro football, but eating right, especially while in the boat, and staying busy and somewhat physically fit are an avantage for sure. By the end of a tournament week, you can get quite sore and run down, also neck and back injuries are common in the sport. Mentally, if you're weak...this is plainly not the job for you, period. You have to be a positive, look on the bright side kind of person or you will lose your mind and focus in a hurry. There's a ton of pressure out here from several anglers and being mentally strong is the most important asset you can have.
In directing a bass club, I often have anglers ask me about obtaining sponsorships. What advice would you give a club angler in terms of finding and securing sponsors? There's so many different ways to look at this. One thing I did, was find the writers/photographers in my area and volunteer to help them in any way I could, via lure shots, generic fish shots, make yourself available for anything they may need. Exposure is what makes sponsors want to team up with you. You don't necessarily have to be the best fisherman around, but the most visable. Obviously, to have both is a huge benefit. So, contact writers and get some visability first and some connections, or just win every tournament and smile pretty every time you hold the trophy. Also, setting the potential sponsor up with a few dealers could get you in too, at least with some free product, but, you have to start somewhere. I was very active in trying to gather sponsors starting in 1994 and started get my picture in magazine articles and winning big in 1991 and didn't have a paying one until 2002. My over-all advice at the club level is to probably concentrate more on building a fish-catching reputation and focus more on how many fish you can put in your boat, and less on how many patches you can get on your shirt. If you build it, they will come.
What are the most common mistake/mistakes a weekend tournament angler makes in regards to fishing club tournaments and fishing in general? I don't know the answer to that. People make mistakes at every level, but there's also a winner at every level too. The guy or girl who makes fewer mistakes will win on Tour or in the club. I think a big key is just worrying about yourself and how you can catch 5 good fish and don't worry about everyone else and what they are doing and where they are fishing. Don't get all caught up in all the flash and dock talk...focus! Practice makes you better, the more you fish the better you will get, just like any sport. Some people simply don't have the time to be on the water as much...I wouldn't call that a mistake, it's just life, but time on the water is a must.
At every tournament, you hear "dock talk" and anglers telling their fishing stories. What are your thoughts on dock talk? Run! Do you honestly think the guy shooting off his mouth's main concern is to offer you some advice that will help you (and the crowd around him) do better? I'm sure it's just the opposite. I'll say it again...RUN!!!!
What are your thoughts on consistency in tournament fishing and how do you maintain your consistency? Consistency is very important to me. Consistency doing well on the FLW Tour the last few years simply means weighing in 5 fish every single day on the water. We fish a lot of tough places where 10 pounds is considered strong two days in a row. I really work hard to make sure I can at least catch a limit first. When I have a train wreck like at Toho, it really bothers me for a long time. I go the extra two miles to make sure everything is in perfect order and hooks are sharp as to not waste a single second during the actual tournament. All you can do is control the controllables, you have to trust in everything else to work the way it's supposed to. I had an old timer once tell me "Dave, if you can be consistent and just go out there and weigh in 10 pounds everyday you fish for the next 5 years, you will be a millionaire", and he was right. I haven't done that, sounds relatively easy, but it's not!
Tell us about your tackle company, TABU Tackle? It's a dream come true for sure. It is owned by me and some friends who all happen to be great fishermen, or known leaders in the tackle industry. Dan Davidson and Michael Murphy are both Fisheries and Aquatic Science graduates from Purdue Univerisity. They are the ones for the most part working behind the scenes handling the stuff we anglers know nothing about. Michael actually worked for Shakespeare and Spro and was the first person I contacted with the idea of starting a tackle company. Anthony Gagliardi, Kelly Jordan, Matt Herren, Fred Roumbanis and myself design and tweak the baits and promote the products, which are in our opinion, the best on the market. I also design all the packaging for the baits. We've basically started a new breed of Tackle Company by being the actual pro fisherman who own it and make the calls, no middle man. It is going great so far with the Open Water Series Jigs and Tiny Tim Swimbaits debuting at the recent Bassmasters Classic. We have several new products coming out this season as well. It's by far the most exciting thing going on in my fishing career right now. When Tim May gets down to 117 pounds, we will start paying him royalties on Tiny Tim sales. Please keep me posted on his progress, or digress...or whatever comes first.
Where do you see professional fishing in 10 years? I see it going through more changes than ever before, especially if the PAA (Professional Anglers Association) ever takes off. I see perhaps the final 6 or top 10 days being fished in NASCAR sized stadiums connected to huge tackle shopping centers, like Bass Pro Shops. It will not get to the level of the PGA or NASCAR until fans can sit down and watch it live with a drink and a hot dog! Otherwise, I still believe it will continue to grow as it has over the last few years with the help of more big non-endemic sponsors, and the healthy competition between FLW and BASS. Erwin Jacobs and FLW Outdoors has without a doubt raised the bar in our sport but it still has long way to go. I'm excited about the future for sure.
How do you feel about the 2008 season (FLW Tour and FLW Series)? How well does the schedule fit your style of fishing? I like it because we are starting over. The Series looks better to fit my style than the Tour, and I like the fact that I got through Florida with a good finish. The rest of them are all good jig lakes, which I like. The Tour is going to be a little different for me this year because I already make the championship through the East/West Fish-Off on Lake Amistad. The schedule overall is not that great, especially with Beaver Lake attached to it, but I hope to win one this year and I am going to focus on getting bigger bites all year and play with those swimbaits a lot more. As of right now, I do not plan on fishing the Strens in 2008.
Do you think Tim May, a.k.a. "Fish Doctor", will be a threat on the professional level if and when he decides to turn pro? In absolutely no way, shape, or form will a man with the nickname derived from a 4 inch plastic worm have any sort of impact on professional bass fishing. However, I, and many others involved in this sport often look for a good crisis counselor from time to time and if you could just answer your phone when it rings, you may just save a bass pro's life someday.
Thanks Tim, this has been fun. I really enjoy helping others and also learning as much as I possibly can. That's basically why I created my website. It is designed to help local and regional fisherman see what goes on behind the scenes at the Tour level and basically show you what it's like on Tour, the good and the not so good. Check out the site and spread the word to your friends. Leave me your feedback and also if you have any ideas that you would like to see on the site, by all means let me know. I hope that everything you see, or hear on the website helps you in some way throughout the fishing season, or maybe even in starting your own fishing career. We will also be interviewing many top pros in a segment called "Joe to Pro". These articles fall right in line with some of the questions here and will give you an idea how some of these guys came from where you are to becoming full-time pros. Again, please leave you're feedback and opinions and good luck to everyone this upcoming tournamment season!
Interview with James Harner and Phil Crews "2007 CLASSIC CHAMPS"
The third installment of the "LIVEWELL" features our 2007 "CLASSIC CHAMPS", James Harner and Phil Crews. In order to fish the 2007 Classic, Extreme anglers had to fish at least five of the regular season tournaments. For 2007, 19 teams qualified to fish the "Classic". And, what better place to have the Classic than on one of the East Coast's best fisheries, the Tidal Potomac River. However, going into the Classic, most anglers noted a very, very tough bite which is unusual for the Potomac. And, the day of the tournament, anglers were greeted with rain and high winds, which can cause the Potomac to get a little rough (ok, really rough!)
However, James and Phil put together an awesome two days of fishing, as they were the only team to weigh a limit on both days. Their two day total weight was 24.35 pounds. Their day one sack was anchored by a 4.49 pound largemouth which gave them the Day 1 Big Fish Award. Their total earnings for the Classic was $609.00. James and Phil are excellent fisherman and they are also great guys. We are proud to have them not only as part of the Extreme family but also as board members.
Below are some questions I asked them a few days ago. I will post Phil's comments later. Enjoy.
Most anglers noted that the Classic was in fact the toughest or one of the toughest tournaments of the year. What was your thoughts heading into the tournament based on your prefishing? (James) - We prefished the Potomac two weeks prior to the tournament. The first day of practice was spent locating new areas we had never fished. Day 2 of practice was spent visiting our usual Potomac River spots. Day 1 of practice was the key for us locating fish. We were confident that a limit would not be difficult to get. I actually figured it might take a little over 15 pounds to take day one, which is where the real challenge would lie. (Phil) - James and I had prefished the Potomac two weeks before the Classic. Day 1 of practice started out looking for new water and to weed out areas for the upcoming tournament. Little did we know that the weather conditions during our practice would end up being identical to the tournament conditions. Day 2 of practice was visiting our normal spots. Confidence in catching a limit was not an issue. The real challenge was to secure enough weight on Day 1 to even have a chance at Day 2.
Obviously, the weather changed, high winds and rain on Day 1 and blue bird skies on Day 2. What adjustments did you make from prefishing to deal with the change in weather? (James) - Phil and I were confident in one stretch of bank we had prefished, but we also knew it was not protected from the wind. We started Day 1 with 25 MPH winds, but we adjusted and decided that was the thing we needed. We let the wind do the work for us by just drifting along a weedline, then running back up to the point and drifting again. The map on my GPS was covered up by the trails back and forth. We had over 10 pounds in the first two hours of Day 1 and continued to catch fish the rest of the day. It appeared that most guys were trying to either get out of the wind or they tried to fight it with their trolling motors. In the end, we had our unprotected areas (from the wind) pretty much to ourselves. Day 2 went a lot like Day 1. We ground out a limit in our primary area, then moved to our second area and upgraded. The bigger fish were harder to come by, but we did manage to get a couple. If we had another hour, I believe we could have caught another good one, but that is always the story! Once again, on Day 2, we didn't let the wind or weather dictate where we fished. By the way, it was rough out on the river both days, even in a Champion. But, we stayed dry and only lost one rod!! (Phil) - James and I were happy to see the conditions when we arrived on Day 1. The weather was identical to practice. We always say "The wind is our friend!". We began Day 1 with 20 plus mph winds and it was pointless to try to fight it with a trolling motor. We started out on points of weedlines and let mother nature guide us. James had landed the 1st fish of the day, a 4 pounder, a good start to the morning. We repeatedly worked the inside and outside of weedlines until we caught our limit. We had noticed that we were one of the few boats that was still fishing out in the unprotected waters. Day 2 started out about 10-15 degrees cooler but still had a steady wind. James had said we will not leave our primary area until we catch our limit. We had our limit and headed out to upgrade. Both days the river was rough, but this didn't change where or how we fished.
Melvin Bowling noted that you guys had the Potomac figured out. Tell us a little bit about your techniques and what you did to be so consistent in the tournament. Did you fish main river stuff or try and find protected areas?(James) - We threw chatterbaits (not standard color, but modified) and spinnerbaits both days. Most of the guys we were around were focused on matted vegetation, throwing frogs and flipping baits. We also tried a little frogging, but for us, we felt that our time was better spent covering water quickly. Scattered hydrilla and milfoil was the ticket. The fish we caught were out along the edges and on the scattered clumps. Our primary area was in Mattawoman, while our secondary spot was on the main river (and I mean main river). We were able to catch 12-15 fish each day with our patterns. Phil fished a spinnerbait the entire second day, while I pretty much threw a chatterbait for 2 days straight. (Phil) - We threw frogs, spinnerbaits, and the "Harner" custom chatterbait both days. James threw a chatterbait the entire two days. I threw a combo of frogs and spinnerbaits on Day 1, but, the I threw a spinnerbait the entire second day. Guys around us were trolling into the grass beds to flip and punch the mats. We were constantly covering water, focusing on suspended clumps and the edges of weed lines. It is no secret where we were both days, "Mattawoman" our primary spot. Our second spot was the main river. Our techniques was allowing us to catch double digits each day.
We hear "Dock Talk" all the time from the time we arrive at the ramp until we get back to the motels. How do you guys deal with "Dock Talk" and information you hear from other anglers? (James) - I try not to listen to most dock talk. There are a couple of guys that we will talk to about general stuff, but, for the most part, when we arrive at the ramp, we have a game plan figured out and try to stick to it. Dock talk will make you second guess your plan. I don't think it helps at all, because the guys who are on the fish, usually are smart enough not to give out the important information. (Phil) - I do not listen to dock talk. We discuss our game plan ahead of time or on the way to the tournament. Dock talk is a mind game that some anglers use to throw people off. No real hot spots are really going to be revealed anyway.
How long have you guys been fishing tournaments and what got you started fishing tournaments? (James) - I started fishing tournaments in 2001 because I wanted to see if I had what it took. Well, it seems I didn't. I had a huge learning curve to overcome. I had fished maybe a dozen times before I bought my first bass boat in 2000. I now realize that every day I fish, I learn something new, and forget other things I had once known. Watch out guys, all I need is another 10 years and it is on! (Phil) - I have been fishing tournaments since 2003. James got me started fishing tournaments after his old partner quit fishing. I have had a learning experience since I started. Zebco classics are out of the picture now. Rod quality and sensitivity equals $$$!!!!. I have never ever thought about gear ratios until I met James. I purchased my first Jet Boat in 2004. Probably, the best investment I ever made.
Next year, the Extreme schedule looks a little different as we will be fishing Buggs Island, Lake Gaston, and finishing the year with the "Classic" on Smith Mountain Lake. What are your thoughts about next year's schedule and how do you think you will do? (James) - I love the schedule. I like fishing new water and the new schedule offers that. I have fished Smith Mountain but never Buggs or Gaston. Bring it on. I think it will put us all to the test. We need this variety to keep the club alive. Sure beats Egypt Bend! (Phil) - I think the schedule is awesome! Fishing new water is always a plus. The schedule this year will challenge each team to perform at their best. I have never fished Smith Mountain, Buggs, or Gaston, but, I'm ready for the challenge. Variety is the "Life of our club"!
What was your most memorable experience in 2007? (James) - We had a good year with respect to big fish this year, but the best moment for me was our 2 big fish on the Rappahannock River. We caught 2 real nice fish, then, had a third one on and it got off about six feet from the boat. We had just won another tournament the previous week, so we were confident in our approach. Even though we came in 3rd, I felt good about how our game plan worked. Once again, chatterbaits were the poison! (Phil) - 2007 was a great year for quantity and quality of big fish for us. My best experience this year was our win at the Classic. We had a game plan and stuck to it. Everything we did on those two days was working for us. Confidence is ourselves and the baits we were throwing was the key to our win.
Cover water or stay and fish a spot? What are your favorite ways to fish? Do you run and gun or do you like to find an area and stay? (James) - I like to run as most everyone has seen. But, once I get to an area, I try to work it over unless things just don't happen. The river or lake we fish has a lot to do with it. For example, we can camp out in 1 or 2 creeks on Lake Anna or we could run from Fredericksburg to Tappahanock on the Rapp hitting every creek we can. I will not set on a spot all morning if nothing is happening. We ran over 140 miles one day on the Rapp, but it paid off. (Phil) - I think we cover as much as most anglers. Every spot we go to, we fish it thoroughly, unless nothing is happening. There really is no ryhme or reason to our methods of fishing. It depends on the fishery that we are in. For example, the Rapp usually puts the most miles on the boat of any fishery we see all year.
This was the first year of Extreme Bass Anglerz. What are your thoughts about Extreme and what would you tell anglers that are thinking about joining Extreme? (James) - Best club I have fished. Full of energy. Great group of guys. Some really good competition. Good payouts. Good turnouts at the tournaments. Well organized. Website is awesome! (Phil) - Best club I have ever fished. Professional, competative, and a great group of anglers. Great payouts. The best organized club that I have been with. Website speaks for itself! Anyone thinking of joining Extreme, you are in for the ride of your life!
You guys won the Classic on the Potomac. You had a 3rd and 6th place finish on the Rapp. What is it about tidal water for you guys? (James) - The fish are agressive when the tide is right. I like tidal water because you can pattern the fish well. All you have to do is stay in the areas that have favorable tides. It also pays to have a boat that will get you down or up the river safely and quickly. To be honest with you though, I have struggled with tidal water and have always thought I had difficulty with it. The worst thing about tidal water is, I have had great days and come out the next and fish exactly the same and catch NADA! But, this year, I have started fishing a little different and that along with my partners abilities are starting to make a difference. Confidence has been a blessing for us this year for sure. (Phil) - Tidal water fishing is my favorite. The fish are aggressive when the tides are right. Pattering the fish is easier to do on tidal water, as long as you are in the right place and the right tide.
Interview with Melvin Bowling and Leewood Davis "2007 TEAM OF THE YEAR"
The second installment of the "LIVEWELL" features our 2007 "TEAM of the YEAR", Melvin Bowling and Leewood Davis. For a team to win "Team of the Year", the one thing they have to be is consistent. And, you could definately say the ole' boys were consistent in 2007. They averaged a third place finish over eight tournaments in 2007, winning two tournaments. They won on the Potomac River in May, with five bass weighing 20.84 pounds. And, they won the Rappahannock River tournament in August. Their total earnings for 2007 were $1128.00, not bad for eight tournaments. Melvin and Leewood are certainly one team that is always a favorite to win or at least to have a high finish.
The first time I met Melvin was probably seven years ago. I wanted to fish local tournaments, and Melvin had started a club. I didn't have a clue about tournament fishing, and I remember seeing this soft spoken guy always weighing in "sacks" of bass. As time passed, I got to know Melvin well and I can say not only is the ole' boy a true fisherman, but he is a great guy and great friend. I'm happy to have him with us as a member of Extreme and as a Board Member. I wish I could say the same about Leewood. I first met him when he was tyring to get released from prison. OK, I'm lying. No, Leewood wasn't in prison, but Leewood is the same no matter where you see him. Always friendly, laughing, but tight lipped to most (don't even try to get info from this man). And, he can catch those green fish good too! It is a pleasure to have him with Extreme and I hope I can still call him a friend after this interview.
So, in order for our members and visitors to extremebassanglerz.com to learn more about the ole boys, here is a question and answer I posed to them a few days ago.
Any tournament angler will tell you, to be successful in tournaments, you have to be consistent. What was the key for you guys being consistent in 2007? (Melvin) - Confidence and being patient was a big part of being consistent in 2007. I used to think I had to run all around and try to fish as much stuff as possible. But, over the years, I've calmed down a little bit. Having a partner that helps you stay calm doesn't hurt either. You know the saying, never leave fish to find fish. And, having the confidence to think you can catch them definately doesn't hurt. And, you still need a little luck. (Leewood) - The key for us was prefishing seperately and finding different fish. Also, on tournament day, going out and catching a limit, then looking for bigger fish. Fish your strengths, not what other people are doing.
What/Who got you guys fishing bass tournaments and at what age did you get started? (Melvin) - Rick Mantz, Daniel Golladay, and Rudy Dean got me hooked on tournaments. From small local tournaments to Regional Federation tournaments. I started at age 25 or 26 fishing tournaments. (Leewood) - I have been fishing my whole life but only tournament fishing since 2003. Brian Harold and Jeff Lugar got me involved in the BFL's. After a two year hiatus from tournament fishing (shift work) but still helping guys if they needed anything, I got a call from Melvin last winter to fish with Extreme.
What was your most memorable experience in 2007 and why? (Melvin) - It would have to be the Potomac River in May. It was just one of those days that everything went right. Those kinds of days don't happen often, especially in tournament situations. (Leewood) - Most memorable fishing experience was the Potomac in May. It was just one of those days where everything went right. Most memorable day fishing had to be in early January when Melvin, my Dad, and myself had over 100 pounds of stripers. All on lures!
What was the key for your Potomac River win in May? (Melvin) - Prefishing was the key. I was able to find two different special areas. One was a shallow flat where some fish were on beds or cruising around beds. We were able to get a limit there in about an hour that was around 13 or 14 pounds. We left there and went to a spot where I had caught some big fish the day before. There were only 3 boats as far as you could see on Friday and it was the same for Saturday. We were able to cull all the fish that we caught that morning except for one that was 3.5 pounds. I will say that we were throwing texas rigged plastics around isolated clumps of grass to get the bigger fish, and, believe it or not, all the bigger fish came within a 20 yard section. (Leewood) - The key was finding an area away from other anglers.
If you had one tournament that you could have done something different, what tournament would it have been and what would you have done? (Melvin) - The "Classic" on the Potomac. I needed to find some protected areas instead of spending so much time on the main river bays and pockets the weekend before. The weather is one of the biggest factors on the Potomac, just because you catch fish in any given area doesn't mean you can get back to it or be able to fish it. The wind destroyed the grassbeds we were fishing and left us searching for fish and new water. (Leewood) - The Chick tournament. We did not prefish and paid the price for not doing so. We found a little pattern late but time had run out on us.
The 2007 "CLASSIC" was definately a tough tournament for a lot of anglers. What was some of the things you think caused anglers to struggle? (Melvin) - The wind was the major factor I think. Anglers couldn't fish a lot of areas they wanted to. You needed to have a game plan together and I think Phil and James definately had it together along with the Lineweaver's. (Leewood) - From our prefishing outings, we were not on anything solid and the area we had got muddied up by the wind. You need to find fish in different areas just in case the wind gets up which can happen on any body of water but especially the Potomac.
Obviously, you guys have fished most of the lakes and rivers in Virginia. What is your prefishing approach to tournaments, do you search for new water, go to old spots, how many days do you prefish, etc...? (Melvin) - I think you do need to look for new water because things change from year to year. But, I still fish alot of the same spots from the previous years. I used to spend countless hours on the water, but with two little ones running around now, it sure slows you down. (Leewood) - We prefish seperately and try to find fish one day together. I personally check some old spots but seek out new water. I pattern fish not spot fish.
What advice would you give anglers that are new to fishing club tournaments? (Melvin) - Don't put to much pressure on yourself and relax, have fun, and enjoy the time you spend on the water with friends and all the new people you meet. (Leewood) - Keep an open mind and treat others the way you want to be treated. Above all, have fun.
What are your thoughts about "Dock Talk" and getting information about lakes and rivers from other anglers? (Melvin) - Personally, I don't change my day of fishing from information I have heard people talking about. You can always apply that information in your style of fishing. (Leewood) - I don't pay attention to "Dock Talk" because it can lead you astray. I have a few fishing buddies that I can trust and share information with, but, they are few and far between. Don't take that the wrong way; I will help anyone with general information.
Other than yourselves, pick a team that you think will have a good shot at "Team of the Year" in 2008 and why? (Melvin) - I'm going to leave this question alone. But, I will say there are a whole lot of teams that have a shot at "Team of the Year" and it will come down to the one that stays consistent throughout the entire year. (Leewood) - I willl leave that question alone but I will say that any team can win at any given tournament. This club is very competitive.
Extreme Bass Anglerz finished it's first year in September. What are your thoughts about Extreme Bass Anglerz and what would you tell new anglers that wanted to join Extreme? (Melvin) - Tim and the guys have done an outstanding job putting everything together. It's been a blast to fish. Having a club like this is a group effort and we have a great group of guys. So, if you want to have a good time and meet new people and have good competition, come and join Extreme. And, the name speaks for itself. (Leewood) - The club was great. I met and got to know alot of new people. Tim does an excellent job. New members that want to join should expect a friendly but competitive atmosphere.