UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Arey aims higher in 2013

Matt Arey gets a good luck lick from his dog Allie before day-two takeoff.

All too often in professional fishing the limelight goes to those who make the top-10 cuts and hoist the six-figure checks above their heads. Matt Arey never made any of those cuts, nor did he win a tournament in 2012, yet he still had by any standard a "career year."

The 2012 Walmart FLW Tour season marked Arey's second consecutive Forrest Wood Cup qualification. But unlike 2011, it carried no peaks or valleys - instead demonstrating a steady stream of success. Arey cashed checks in six of the seven FLW tournaments he fished and earned a career-best $65,000.

"It was a good season but it was also frustrating at the same time," said the Shelby, N.C., pro. "I think I missed three top-20 cuts by the combined weight of a pound. But all year I fished clean, fished hard and everything clicked; I just came up a few ounces shy of a phenomenal season."Pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., caught a limit weighing 16 pounds, 2 ounces and placed third Wednesday.

When he first turned pro after winning the 2006 Forrest Wood Cup as a co-angler, Arey put together a five-year plan. Admittedly, the transition from the back of the boat to the front wasn't easy and Arey had occasional doubts about his ability to compete at the sport's highest level.

"Last year and this year have really been make-or-break years and I'm proud to say I've made it. I think a lot of my success is a result of sharper decision making. And that better decision making just comes from having spent more time on the water. I run a guide business called Rack and Reel Outfitters with Andy Montgomery and that has me on the area lakes a lot more than it used to."

With experience, Arey has also learned the difference between being an average tour pro and a good one isn't simply a matter of locating fish. It's also about understanding what you've found and how to manage it.

"You've really got to maximize your fish once you've found them. I used to be way too content to just catch a fish here and there off a shaky head. But I've learned that if you have identified a productive area you really have to try seven or eight different presentations and milk it for all its worth."

When Arey further reflects on the 2012 season, it's easy to hear the division in his voice - part pride, part frustration.Matt Arey is pumped for some springtime flipping on Lake Chickamauga.

"My goal is simply to make a living at this, so from that standpoint I would take a season like this every year. But you've got to break out once in a while too. When I look back, I think I fish a little conservative at times. Guys like Dudley and Thrift catch 20 pounds by noon and aren't satisfied. That's what separates the middle-of-the-pack guys from the best. I get too settled in with, `I want to make that $10,000 check.' That's something I've got to work on."

Arey's consistency ultimately placed him ninth in the Angler of the Year race - just below the Dudleys and Thrifts of the world. Arey has set his primary 2013 goal on once again qualifying for the Cup, the richest tournament in professional bass fishing. Beyond that, he wants to make a serious run at AOY.

"I go back to those three tournaments where I was 23rd or 24th or whatever. When you do the math and look real close at it, the difference between ninth in the points and winning Angler of the Year is making those cuts. But at the same time I would take a top 10 in the points race every year, don't get me wrong."

For the most part, Arey likes the 2013 FLW Tour schedule. But his favorite and least favorite lakes, ironically, are the opposite from the majority of his competitors.

Matt Arey fights a 3-pounder to the boat."I've got to be honest; I don't like to go down to Okeechobee, or really all of Florida for that matter. I do pretty well there; I just don't like that style of fishing. It'll be a great tournament I'm sure, but that heavy vegetation is not my style."

The one tournament Arey eagerly anticipates is Beaver Lake, which has become an annual stop on tour.

"I don't know what it is, but I kind of feel like I understand how the lake fishes. I do something different just about every time, but I just can't hate a lake where I've made so much money. This year they should be on beds when we get there and that suits me just fine too."

Notes

After his breakout season, Arey has landed two title sponsors - Kissel Krafts Fishing Rods and Wackem Crazy Baits. Kissel Krafts, a maker of custom-built rods, is wrapping his truck and Wackem, a producer of hand-poured custom plastics, is wrapping his boat.

Matt Arey shows off his new truck wrap for 2013."I think the wraps are perfect fits. Both are fast-growing companies that allow me to design products exactly the way I want."

The other major news from the Arey camp is the arrival of his daughter. Baby Reese, Matt and Emily's first child, is now a happy and healthy 3-month-old.

"My goals for the 2013 season have broadened with the addition of our baby girl. I'm no longer fishing for only my wife and I, but Reese too. I think having her will give me that little bit of extra inspiration needed to fish even harder as I strive for that never-be-satisfied attitude.

"I fished well this year, but that baby girl is the best thing that's happened to me by far. Having a child really makes me appreciate my parents; it's really a whole different type of love."

Tags: brett-carlson  blog 

/tips/2016-02-05-an-ill-wind-at-okeechobee-

An Ill Wind at Okeechobee?

The wind can be a bass fisherman’s best friend or worst enemy. On its best behavior, it creates a temporary current, positions baitfish and helps an angler move around more stealthily in shallow water. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-04-aquatic-plant-id

Aquatic Plant ID

Val Osinski, the owner of Gambler Lures and winner of the 2015 Costa FLW Series event on the lake, knows as much about the Big O as anyone and is an expert on finding and targeting bass in its various grasses. When we had the opportunity to ride along with him for a tour of the lake and to learn to identify some of the grasses, it was a no-brainer to accept. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-poche-services-set

Poche Services Set

Funeral services for Dylan Poche, the 18-year-old Bass Fishing League angler who was stabbed to death Saturday night, are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Freedom Life Church in Natchitoches, La. Visitation will take place at Freedom Life beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-time-to-shine-for-setzer

Time to Shine for Setzer

With three years on Tour and a Co-angler of the Year (COY) award under his belt, Braxton Setzer believes now is his time to start casting from the front. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-01-ambassador

Ambassador

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-29-glenn-browne-s-timeout-is-over-

Glenn Browne’s Timeout is Over

By his own admission, Glenn Browne isn’t the most organized guy. After the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener on Lake Okeechobee, he spent hours returning stuff to its proper place and tossing out the usual flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in a bass boat during a tournament. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-flw-podcast-109-mike-surman

FLW Podcast 109 - Mike Surman

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-john-cox-gives-himself-a-makeover

John Cox Gives Himself a Makeover

Last fall there was a rumor going around that John Cox was entering the electronics age and souping up his boat with sonar gear. Just to clear the air, the Florida pro reports that though he did flirt with the notion of incorporating an offshore strategy centered on depth finders into his act, he eventually abandoned the idea. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-austin-felix-is-ready-for-the-big-time

Austin Felix is Ready for the Big Time

Back in the spring of 2014, Austin Felix and his University of Minnesota teammate Chris Burgan were on the top of the FLW College Fishing world. With a win in the National Championship on Lake Keowee, Felix was headed to the Forrest Wood Cup as a pro. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-flw-canada-sets-tournament-sites-dates

FLW Canada Sets Tournament Sites, Dates

FLW Canada, one of four partners in FLW’s International Division of the Costa FLW Series, recently released its 2016 tournament schedule. The season includes three two-day regular-season qualifying events and a three-day championship. Anglers fish as two-person teams. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-26-jigging-spoons-for-winter-bass

Jigging Spoons for Winter Bass

Of course, the application of the spoon hinges on finding bass in the first place, which is the biggest challenge. Walmart FLW Tour pros Jason Johnson and Clark Reehm are experts at finding winter bass in their respective regions of the country and offer FLW readers some advice on where to look and how to get them to bite the spoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-24-how-bryan-thrift-got-to-be-so-good

How Bryan Thrift Got to be so Good

My No. 1 focus out here is to support my family and make a living. Whatever I have to do to make that happen, I’m going to make a valiant effort. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-high-school-fishing-makes-the-grade

High School Fishing Makes the Grade

Jacob Smith and Daniel Clark are typical teenagers, at least in everything except bass fishing. In that, they are above average, as the two juniors from Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina proved in the TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open held Jan. 17 on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-flw-mexico-at-the-starting-gate

FLW Mexico at the Starting Gate

Our excitement is so great that we wanted to share this important news with all of you. Believe me, fishermen in Mexico are talking it up as if it were dock talk surrounding the Forrest Wood Cup. What really matters at the end of the line is knowing that FLW is showing its true devotion to promoting bass fishing and making it a truly international sport. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-making-the-case-for-haynes-as-aoy

Making the Case for Haynes as AOY

As many have noted, the Walmart FLW Tour schedule for this season looks a lot like it did in 2014. Back then, in his sophomore year on Tour, Randy Haynes had one of the strangest seasons you’ll ever see. He finished 104th at Okeechobee, 149th at Sam Rayburn (ouch) and cranked out top-30 finishes everywhere else. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-21-flw-podcast-108-jason-lambert

FLW Podcast 108 - Jason Lambert

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-bfl-choo-choo-division-postponed

BFL Choo Choo Division Postponed

The FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division tournament on Lake Guntersville originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23 has been postponed due to impending inclement weather. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-tigerodz-aligns-with-auburn-team

TIGERODZ Aligns With Auburn Team

Custom fishing rod manufacturer TIGERODZ of Scottsboro, Ala., has signed an agreement to become the official rod brand for the Auburn University Bass Sports Club. Scott Dobbins, president of TIGERODZ, is an Auburn alum, and he says the pairing involved a natural progression of involvement. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-becoming-aware-of-your-angler-strengths

Becoming Aware of Your Angler Strengths

The ongoing sentiment among fishermen is that versatility is the key to becoming a successful professional angler. While I’m certain that statement holds some weight, I think there is an alternate perspective that is worth entertaining. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-18-pundits-picks-for-aoy

Pundits Picks for AOY

Winning the Angler of the Year title is a tremendous feat. It can solidify a budding career or affirm a veteran’s status among the best. It also comes with a hefty reward – $100,000 and early entry into the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. READ MORE »