UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

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."

Tags: brett-carlson  article 

/tips/2016-07-23-1000-islands-day-3-midday-update

1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-22-1000-islands-midday-update-day-2

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-19-flw-podcast-126-icast

FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-14-2017-walmart-flw-tour-schedule

2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-12-si-se-puede-yes-we-can

Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-5-rookie-lessons-learned

5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-flw-podcast-125-scott-martin

FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-review-lew-s-custom-speed-stick-lite

Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-reunited-and-it-feels-so-good

Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-2016-icast-preview

2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-07-flw-canada-kicks-off-at-tri-lakes

FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-tour-pro-cooksey-recovering-after-accident

FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-podcast-124-jeremy-lawyer

FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-29-stetson-blaylock-s-recipe-for-a-wacky-rig

Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-28-morgan-claims-third-flw-tour-angler-of-the-year-title

Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-24-three-things-by-dd-kentucky-lake

Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-23-how-to-catch-smallmouths-with-hair-jigs

How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-22-two-exciting-events-to-look-forward-to

Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-21-tagging-along-with-sprague-in-kentucky

Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-19-waunakee-hs-wins-wi-title

Waunakee HS Wins WI Title

The Waunakee High School duo of Colin Steck and Nathan Lorenz brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Wisconsin State Championship on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. The win earned the team trophies, the title of state champions and advanced the team to the High School Fishing Central Conference championship on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on September 23-24. READ MORE »