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: blog  brett-carlson 

/tips/2015-03-18-expect-change-and-adapt-to-it

Expect Change and Adapt to It

Ish Monroe explains how to adapt to changing conditions and recommends to always fish your strengths in this weeks blog. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-17-so-you-want-to-be-a-co-angler-

So You Want to be a Co-Angler?

First and foremost, I know I’m fishing the tournament as a co-angler and I make sure that I not only stay out of my pro’s way, but I do what I can to assist him throughout the day. This starts at the ramp with assisting him with the launch where possible. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-16-a-30-piece-puzzle-with-four-pieces-missing

A 30-Piece Puzzle with Four Pieces Missing

The whole time I was down in Florida during the FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho I felt like I was trying to put together a 30-piece puzzle with four pieces missing. The weather was right, the water temperature was right, the thousands of acres of vegetation looked right, but one thing was wrong: the fish! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-12-a-clean-slate

A Clean Slate

The 2015 season opener of the Walmart FLW Tour wasn’t at Okeechobee, as in recent years, but at Lake Toho in central Florida. I was excited about the change, and even more pumped to start a fresh new season after blowing my motor on day one of the first event last year. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-27-toho-bound

Toho Bound

You have to understand that having home field advantage in fishing is the absolute worst. There are so many demons; you have too much information, you start fishing the lake’s history – it goes on and on and it’s very hard for a professional angler to mentally break that barrier. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-25-3-thoughts-on-toho

3 Thoughts on Toho

I was without power for three days after the first storm, but it snowed again this weekend and there is supposed to be more weather on the way. Suffice to say, I can’t get to Florida and Lake Toho fast enough. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-20-east-to-west

East to West

As a tournament angler, I realize that a primary aspect of my job is to be able to catch fish anywhere, in all types of fisheries, under a variety of conditions. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-12-from-swamp-pro-to-bass-pro

From Swamp Pro to Bass Pro

When most people hear the name “T-Roy Broussard,” they think of me as the Texan in the big green airboat on the reality television show Swamp People. Three years ago I was introduced to households across the world as a burly alligator hunter that made a living off of the land. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-01-29-here-we-go

Here We Go

The 2015 bass tournament season is officially underway and I am super-excited about the changing dynamics. There is no doubt that the economy is improving and the 250-boat field that fished the first Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee is testament to that. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-01-13-are-you-taking-care-of-business-

Are You Taking Care of Business?

My dad started taking me fishing when I was two. My very first job was at Hi’s Tackle Box and after that I spent a few years working for Fisherman’s Choice. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to spend my life doing what I love and enjoy doing. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-30-the-ebb-and-flow-of-sponsorships

The Ebb and Flow of Sponsorships

Many of the readers who follow FLW know me as one of the pros who fishes the Walmart FLW Tour. What many of you don’t know is that I also work in the industry. I get to see what happens behind the scenes more than the average fisherman or fellow fan does. I get to see the sponsor contracts, and the ins and outs of how business works. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-22-ish-monroe-travels-to-china

Ish Monroe Travels to China

Among the benefits of having sponsors are the unique opportunities that they provide to you. For instance, during this offseason I got to travel to China for the first time in my life to work with one of my main sponsors, River2Sea, designing and perfecting the Ish Monroe Series. I stopped in Hong Kong on my way there and back. It’s so high-tech and advanced; it’s amazing. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-12-5-must-have-knots

5 Must-Have Knots

Most anglers, pros included, look for any little edge to increase their catch, and that includes even the knots they tie to attach lures to their lines. With that in mind, picking the best knot to use with all of today’s lines can be a challenge. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-02-offseason-with-the-blaylocks

Offseason with the Blaylocks

READ MORE »

/tips/2014-11-24-how-to-approach-a-potential-sponsor

How to Approach a Potential Sponsor

For a lot of FLW anglers, it’s crunch time in regards to sewing up sponsorships for 2015. Whether you’re fishing at the high school or college level, in BFLs, the Rayovac FLW Series or on the Walmart FLW Tour, gaining some form of sponsorship is critical to enabling you to make a profit from competitive fishing. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-11-06-the-future-of-bass-fishing-is-in-good-hands

The Future of Bass Fishing is in Good Hands

It’s been a couple months since I fished my last FLW event, the Forrest Wood Cup in Columbia, S.C., where I got to watch history in the making. The championship weigh-in was very exciting as it featured the local favorite Anthony Gagliardi taking home the top prize with a 1-ounce margin of victory. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-10-23-changes-in-the-air

Changes in the Air

Another year gone, and another off-season flying by. I’m still trying to catch up on all the stuff around the house that I let go during the season. Chores like painting the garage or little fix-it-up jobs around the house and yard seem to never end. By the way, I am currently fighting it out with fire ants, and even though they seem to have won most of the battles so far, I guarantee they will not win the war. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-10-22-when-more-is-better-

When More is Better

Today’s Lowrance sonar/GPS combos are so powerful, even the entry-level units are waaaay more advanced than what was available just a few years ago before we had GPS, SideScan or DownScan. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-10-10-relaxed-but-reloading

Relaxed, But Reloading

READ MORE »

/tips/2014-09-26-the-realities-of-sponsorships

The Realities of Sponsorships

Right now a lot of tournament fishermen are trying to land sponsor deals for 2015. Consequently, I guess it’s pretty accurate to say that the No. 1 question any long-term pro angler gets asked this time of year is, “How do I get sponsors?” READ MORE »