Tuesday Tour update: Watson wants Cup berth

James Watson shows off his catch.

James Watson isn't a household name in professional bass fishing. At this point in his career, he's OK with that. But if the fourth-year pro from Waynesville, Mo., continues his current track, that will soon change. Watson, a 10-year Army veteran, is a relative newcomer to the sport. Upon completion of his military service, Watson began employment as a real estate sales agent. After thriving in that role, the 40-year-old opened his own Realty Executives franchise in central Missouri right outside Fort Leonard Wood. Once his business took off, Watson took to the water. "I now spend over 200 days a year fishing," he said. "Thankfully I have a manager that runs everything, even when I'm there in the office. I don't have to worry about stuff when I'm gone, and that is so helpful. Could I make more money if I wasn't always on the road? Sure, but it's not all about the money, it's really not. All I want to do now is fish." Not one to shy away from a challenge, Watson took his lumps his first few years on Tour. He'd catch a big bag one day only to return to the same area the next and strike out using similar tactics. "I made a conscious effort this year not to get spun out and get upset at myself," he explained. "That has allowed me to follow my gut. When you're following your gut, you're fishing by the seat of your pants. I'm going to every event now with an open mind and a good attitude. Over the last few years, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I'd have one bad tournament and I'd be so mad I'd put even more pressure on myself to catch them at the next tournament. And the negativity would just snowball." James Watson made the top-20 cut with an opening-round total of 25 pounds, 1 ounce.Watson used the second day at Lewis Smith Lake as a great example. "I caught them pretty good on a crankbait the first day. But on the second day they wouldn't bite it in the flat-calm conditions. I finally decided to open up and just go fishing. I switched to flipping bushes and boat docks and ended up bringing a good limit to the scale. Before I would've gotten wrapped around the axle about where I caught them the day before and on what. Now I'm not afraid to fish new water. I tell myself, `Hey, you're a good enough fisherman, go out and fish.' I just have confidence now that I'm doing the right thing. "Now I'm just looking at stuff in practice, not even fishing it, and then I'll go there during the tournament and catch a key fish. That's what Jason is so good at. He just goes and fishes his strengths." When Watson references Jason, he's talking about the hottest angler in the sport - Rayovac pro Jason Christie. Watson travels with Christie and Arkansas pro Robbie Dodson. "Jason's schedule has gotten kind of crazy this year between family and fishing both circuits, but Robbie and I have really become close friends, we share everything." Watson lightheartedly refers to Christie as the "Indian" because of his Cherokee descent and Dodson as the "Ridge Runner" because of his backwoods Arkansas upbringing. "You can't run with the Indian and the Ridge Runner and not learn something about bass fishing. Everybody knows about Jason now. But Robbie is a great fisherman too. He's a quiet guy, but I honestly think he's the most underrated fisherman on tour. He can flip and pitch jigs with the best - great squarebill guy too. He can throw a spinnerbait all day; the guy is just a bass-whacking fool." James Watson shows off his catch.Like Christie and Dodson, Watson is at home power fishing in shallow water, but he's learned to diversify to survive the different types of fisheries the FLW Tour encounters. "I like to flip Luck-E-Strike jigs and tubes; that's my comfort zone. But some of my success this year has been about picking up an ultralight. That's something I've never really done, but this year I have and it has saved my butt." At the halfway point in the FLW Tour season, Watson sits sixth in the Angler of the Year race with 522 points. While he's thrown it in regional tournaments, none of his newfound success has come via umbrella rigs. "The Alabama rig hasn't done a thing for me," Watson remarked. "Overall, I'm pretty neutral about it. I just look at it as a good prespawn bait. It just hasn't played a role in any major event for me. I will say it's not the cure for the haphazard fisherman. Confidence is the cure, not the Alabama rig." Watson likes the remaining three FLW Tour venues, but vows to continue to fish with an open mind. "My goal is to get that first Forrest Wood Cup berth as a pro. I hope to do well more for my sponsors than I do for myself if that makes sense. There are some people out there, like Veteran United Home Loans, that I want to make proud. And really, I'm fishing looser because of great sponsors."

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/tips/2015-04-01-kids-get-to-wet-a-line-during-lewis-smith-event

Kids Get to Wet a Line During Lewis Smith Event

The children and their families had plenty of room to spread out around the Smith Lake Dam cove, which proved to be a good place to fish as it was also the site where the FLW release boat unloaded fish caught by the pros during Friday’s round. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-30-high-school-anglers-fish-for-their-future

High School Anglers Fish for Their Future

High school anglers from across the Midwest braved chilly weather at Kentucky Lake Saturday in hopes of finding hot spots that would help advance them to the High School Fishing Southeastern Conference Championship on Lake Lanier this fall as well as help fund their college education. The 150 high school anglers and their coaches awoke to an unusually cold spring morning to compete in the 2015 Murray State High School Fishing Open. Frost-covered decks, gear and tackle, frozen livewells and outboards reluctant to start were among the first challenges those aboard the 75 boats had to deal with at Kentucky Dam Marina. The event honored the memory of Murray State University’s Dr. Jim Carter, one of the earliest proponents of fishing as a state-sanctioned high school sport. Teams competed for a grand prize of $4,000 in scholarships to Murray State. The scholarships were provided by Independence Bank of Murray and FLW in partnership with the Murray State Bass Anglers. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-21-guntersville-midday-update

Guntersville Midday Update

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/tips/2015-03-21-college-open-day-2-midday-update

College Open Day 2 Midday Update

The sun is shining, the weather is warmer and the bass aren’t biting, at least not for most of the first-round leaders here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open. As the second and final day of competition unfolds, the leaders are struggling to maintain their positions. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-19-day-one-midday-update-from-guntersville

Day One Midday Update From Guntersville

With cooler weather blowing in, patches of mist and rain whisking over the lake, and whitecaps in the main channel, day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Mercury on Lake Guntersville is proving to be a challenge for the field. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-18-murray-state-high-school-fishing-open

Murray State High School Fishing Open

The Bass Federation (TBF) and FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, will host a Student Angler Federation Murray State High School Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, March 28 with the winning team receiving $4,000 in scholarships to Murray State from Independence Bank and FLW. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-18-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The weekend of March 21 will feature four Walmart BFL tournaments. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-17-college-open-heads-to-kentucky-lake

College Open Heads to Kentucky Lake

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/tips/2015-03-17-weekend-wrap-up

Weekend Wrap-Up

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/tips/2015-03-16-episode-68

Episode 68

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/tips/2015-03-12-10-best-shots-from-toho

10 Best Shots from Toho

Photos, photos and more photos. All totaled, FLW's media crew, which is composed of staff and freelance contributors, snapped more than 16,000 photos at the Lake Toho opener of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour. FLW Graphic Designer and Photo Editor D.W. Reed II managed the flow of every photo from the camera, through a review and editing process, and eventually uploaded only the best shots to the website - and he did a fine job of it too. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-12-australian-wins-lake-toho-flw-fantasy-fishing

Australian Wins Lake Toho FLW Fantasy Fishing

FLW Fantasy Fishing player Tom Slater of Indooroopilly, Queensland, Australia, correctly picked four of the top 10 anglers the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho presented by Mercury. For his picks, Slater won the season’s first FLW Fantasy Fishing event and its $5,000 top prize. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-11-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

March 14 will host six different Walmart BFL events around the country. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-10-weekend-wrap-up

Weekend Wrap-up

With the Walmart FLW Tour kicking off on Lake Toho over the weekend, all eyes were on central Florida. Toho didn’t disappoint. The system kicked out numbers of giant bass, which led to a final weigh-in that turned out to be a nail-biter. What you might not have realized is that Lake Guntersville also churned out a plethora of giants in a Walmart Bass Fishing League event held there on Saturday. Here’s a recap of last weekend’s tournament action. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-04-episode-67-shane-lehew-and-jt-kenney

Episode 67 - Shane Lehew and JT Kenney

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/tips/2015-03-04-boat-bling-renews-with-flw

Boat Bling Renews with FLW

In conjunction with their FLW sponsorship, Boat Bling recently announced the “2015 Boat Bling Challenge – Beat a Pro, Win a Boat” contest. One lucky winner will win a VIP trip to the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Airfare, hotel and VIP access will be given to the winner, as well as the opportunity to fish against a Boat Bling pro on Monday, August 24th. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-03-weekend-wrap-up-march-2-2015

Weekend Wrap-up – March 2, 2015

This weekend was all about anticipating the Walmart FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho. Though the pros haven’t started competing yet (competition begins Thursday), we’re beginning to see reports of great catches from practice and photos of some beautiful scenery, which has revved up preseason excitement to an all-time high. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-03-easy2hook-s-new-flipping-hook-

Easy2Hook’s New Flipping Hook

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/tips/2015-03-02-pre-tournament-interviews-lake-toho

Pre-Tournament Interviews - Lake Toho

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/tips/2015-02-27-flw-launches-new-website

FLW Launches New Website

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