UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart FLW Tour - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Reel Chat transcript with CASEY MARTIN

Casey Martin nets number three

Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we're joined by pro Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., who recently captured the FLW Tour title on Lake Chickamauga.

Despite entering his rookie year as a pro on the FLW Tour in 2013, Casey Martin has performed admirably to say the least. The Alabama pro started the season off strongly with a sixth-place overall finish at the Tour event at Lake Okeechobee. Then, after surviving a series of tumultuous finishes over the next four events, Martin netted the top prize on Lake Chickamauga in June, the final regular-season contest of the season, and cemented his very first FLW Tour win as a pro in the process.

Martin currently boasts nearly $300,000 in winnings at FLW events over the course of his career, which began back in 2003. The Alabama pro has also logged five wins total, including three wins as a co-angler on the FLW Tour - Lake Champlain and Lake Guntersville in 2011 and Kentucky Lake in 2012. In addition, Martin's first-place finish at Lake Chickamauga guaranteed him an automatic invite into the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, marking the first time he will be competing in the sport's main event as a pro.

Throughout the season, Martin's rookie exploits on the Tour have also been chronicled at each event in the FLW reality series, "Circuit Breaker."

Today, Casey is here to take questions from you, the fans. So, without further delay, let's get started.

Q: Now that you've had time to reflect on your big win on Lake Chickamauga, what was your absolute favorite moment of that day?
-- Lyle (Merritt Island, Fla.)
A: First of all, I haven't had a whole lot of time to reflect. But looking back on it I think it was when I caught that 8-pounder around 9 a.m. I knew I was on my way, especially since I already had two good fish in my livewell at that point.

Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge or difference being a pro compared to co-angler?
-- James (Greensboro, N.C.)
A: I would just say preparation for an event. There is a lot more stuff you have to prepare. You have to research patterns more, you have to be a boat mechanic, you have have to have your fishing equipment up to par, so there are just a lot more things you have to concern yourself with before the tournament even starts.

Q: What has it been like fishing on the FLW Tour as a rookie? What has been the most difficult thing for you this season?
-- Titus Song (New York, N.Y.)
A: I would say the most difficult thing is learning new lakes. You really have to be versatile on new lakes. I would describe the season as a lot of ups and downs and that's just a normal part about being a rookie because there are many moments when you're out of your comfort zone.

Q: First of all congrats on the great win! Will you be back next year and were you coming back regardless of the last tournament result?
-- Eric (Cooper, Okla.)
A: I'm definitely coming back next year for sure. Prior to the last result I thought I'd probably need some extra financial help but now I plan on being on the Tour hopefully for a very long time.

Q: Congrats on your Chickamauga win. I would like to know more about the A-rig set up you were using. Thanks.
-- Lyn Melton (Florence, Ala.)
A: The A-rig setup I was using was a Picasso Bait Ball Extreme and I had 3/8-ounce jig heads with 5-inch paddletail swimbaits. I also had teasers on it that were Swimming Fluke Juniors.

Q: Not sure if you can say, but I was wondering where downriver you were fishing?
-- Ethan (Birchwood, Tenn.)
A: I was fishing in the Harrison Bay/Chester Frost area.

Q: Hey Casey, I'm a co-angler in a bass club and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I have no boat, so I can't really practice, and researching the body of water online can be misleading because you never know how far to read into the info you find. So my question is this: How do you determine the type, number, and variety of baits to take to a tournament? For me, the Potomac River is one of the toughest places to do well on as a co-angler. I never seem to be able to catch a limit there.
-- P.J. Pahygiannis (Olney, Md.)
A: Usually I like to keep it simple - I generally like to keep my inventory to five rods. The type of bait I usually throw depends on the season. If it's prespawn I like to throw moving baits and soft plastics during the spawn. I basically look at the seasonal pattern of the year and go from there. As a co-angler you have to throw what you have confidence in.

Q: If you were limited to five rod-and-reel combos and five baits to fish entire season, what would they be?
-- Jim H (Laconia, N.H.)
A: I would say a swim jig, A-rig, a football jig, some type of crankbait and a Boing topwater lure.

Q: What kind of bait and rig were you using to catch all of those big bass on during the Chickamauga tournament?
-- John Grant (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.)
A: I was using the Picasso Bait Ball Extreme.

Q: Congrats Casey on such a great year. My question is in regards to your prefishing strategies. Could you walk us through your process from the first day to the final day of practice? How do you utilize your electronics and what kind of things are you looking for?
-- Jonathan Ruffier (West Harrison, Ind.)
A: Pretty much I like to focus on a certain area of the lake - a 25-mile stretch or so. I really like to break down that one area. Some guys will try to access a 70-mile stretch but that doesn't work as well for me. It's a lot of hard work and you have to put in a lot of long hours. It also depends on seasonal patterns as to what I'm looking for - trying to figure out where the fish should be.

Q: How did it feel to qualify for your first Forrest Wood Cup in your very first year on the FLW Tour?
-- Jon Stebbins (San Diego, Calif.)
A: It feels awesome. That was my main goal all year. So it's absolutely great to do it in your first year. There are a lot of great anglers who didn't qualify this year. It's something you can never take for granted because it really is that tough to get in.

Q: Casey, I have been watching your season unfold on "Circuit Breaker" over the course of the past several months. So what has it been like to participate in your own reality series?
-- Jon Pageler (New York, N.Y.)
A: It's been a lot of fun. We've had fun filming it. I've become friends with the producers. It's been an awesome time. It's been a lot of work though. You'd be surprised how much work and preparation goes into this. There are times you weigh-in at 5 p.m. and you're still shooting video at 6:30. It's been a lot more work than I thought it would be but it's definitely been worth it.

Q: At what point during the Lake Chickamauga event did you think you had a realistic chance of winning the tournament?
-- Jim Interlandi (Chicago, Ill.)
A: I would say it was when I caught that 9-pounder on the last day. I knew I didn't have a lot of backup fish to go to and every day I thought my fish could dry up. But on that last day when I caught that fish I knew there was a very good chance that I could win the tournament.

Q: What was your main goal for this season and did you accomplish it?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: My main goal was to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup and I accomplished that goal. I would have like to have finished higher up in the points but qualifying for the Cup during my first year was very satisfying. My secondary goal was to make enough money to be comfortable coming back fishing on the Tour again and I was able to accomplish that at Lake Chickamauga.

Q: After growing up in Canada fishing natural lakes, what was it like adapting to southern reservoirs? What were the major differences?
-- Joe (Granger, Ind.)
A: It was a huge difference. On a natural lake, they don't change as much. But the southern reservoirs, the water fluctuations and the current were big differences and that required some big adjustments for me.

Q: What is the one thing that has surprised you the most about fishing on the professional side?
-- Lyle (Merritt Island, Fla.)
A: I would say just how good these guys are. The top 50 pros can catch them anywhere they go. Until you actually compete against them, you don't know how good they are. I knew they were good, but they're really good.

Q: Do you have to pay all of your entry fees yourself or do your sponsors chip in? Do the majority of FLW anglers pay their own way?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: I would say the majority of FLW rookies pay the majority of their own way. For me, 80 to 85 percent of my entry fees were fully funded by me. I did have some sponsor help but the majority was self funded.

Q: Did your electronics play a big role in this win?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: Yeah, absolutely. My Lowrance electronics were unbelievable. Having confidence in what you're seeing on your graph is really important. Using my electronics to find structure, fish and baitfish was crucial.

Q: In some photos it was clear that you were sharing a fishing spot with Mark Rose and J.T. Kenney. So how were you able to catch them better than those anglers fishing close to you in the same area?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: I think it was a combination of fishing the Picasso Bait Ball Extreme and knowing a little bit better what the fish were looking for.

Q: Do you have any words of advice to aspiring anglers thinking of fishing as a pro on the FLW Tour?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: I would say to get involved in the co-angler program first. You get to learn from the best in the world and get to know the lakes a little bit better. You also get a chance to make a little bit of money that can really help you down the road before you decide to make the leap as a pro.

Q: Did you find your winning fish on Chickamauga in practice or during first day of the tournament?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: I found them during the last day of practice.

Q: Have you fished the Red River before? How do you feel about your chances there during the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: I'd never been there prior to last weekend. It's definitely a shallow, dirty water river system. It's not the way I like to fish but I'm going to have to give it my best shot.

Q: What makes an angler dominate from the back of the boat?
-- Andrew Von Holten (Mahomet, Ill.)
A: I say it's a combination of being versatile and getting the right (pro) draws.

Q: Casey, I started fishing the Walmart BFL circuit this year and currently sit in 22nd place overall. My question is this: If you could give a co-angler one piece of advice on how to be successful from the back of the boat what would it be?
-- Jimmy Rhodus (Versailles, Ky.)
A: I would say throwing baits you have confidence in and being mentally tough - grinding out as many bites as you can - are all important. I'd also add that it helps to throw something different than what your pro is using.

Q: What's it like financially trying to make it on the tour paying entry fees and travel expenses out of your pocket? It is possible?
-- James Ellis (Boalsburg, Pa.)
A: It's definitely possible but you really have to be successful on the water.

Q: What is your favorite style of fishing ... power or finesse?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: Definitely power fishing. I like fishing for big fish. I'm not a big fan of using a spinning rod chasing finesse fish.

Q: Does the stress of trying to succeed on such a heavy schedule at the tour level take the fun out of fishing? Do you ever lose interest?
-- James Ellis (Boalsburg, Pa.)
A: It's still a lot of fun, but at times, it's definitely stressful. You have to deal with the financial stress and other stresses as well but I still really enjoy fishing. It's what I love to do.

Q: Can you give me three words to describe your first year as a pro?
-- Lyle (Merritt Island, Fla.)
A: Stressful. Fun. Unbelievable.

Q: Just wanted to congratulate you from a fellow Alabamian. I will be fishing there the end of this month with the Lady Bass Anglers Association Tournament Trail. Looking forward to it. Who got you started fishing?
-- Cassie Hall (Alabaster, Ala.)
A: I started out fishing with my mother, father and grandfather. I really got into tournament bass fishing when I joined a club while I was in college in St. Louis, Mo.

Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of the season? Something you would have done differently.
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: I would say I should have been more physically prepared. I didn't realize how physically exhausted I'd be and how draining the season can really be. So I wish I had been in better shape.

Q: How did you know when it was time to move from the back of the boat to the front?
-- Richard Dunham (Chicago, Ill.)
A: I would say that when I got my third co-angler win on Kentucky Lake. I started getting my finances together and that's what really made my decision easier.

Q: Hey Casey...Marty McGalliard from Montgomery, Ala. I was wondering, when a substantial amount of money is won in a tournament, what is the percentage of federal income taxes that have to be paid? How does that work?
-- Marty McGalliard (Montgomery, Ala.)
A: I'll know in April but it's usually about 25 to 30 percent for federal income taxes.

Q: What would be your best tip for catching limits consistently. I live in Jersey and its quite a task to get a limit around South Jersey because of the pressure these fish receive. Any tips for more consistency?
-- Jack McKelvey (Sicklerville, N.J.)
A: I would say a shaky head - I think it's the No. 1 bait for catching a limit.

Q: What are some of the aspects of fishing Guntersville that prepared you for fishing Chickamauga?
-- Chase Key (Cullman, Ala.)
A: It's the same TVA river chain so they fish relatively the same. I spent a lot of time out there prior to the Chickamauga event and it really prepared me. Both lakes kind of set up the same way.

Q: What do plan on doing during the offseason?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: During the offseason, which won't be until October for me, I like to spend time with friends and family. But I'll be right back to practicing for Okeechobee shortly after Christmas.

Q: What is more physically taxing, playing 3 periods of hockey, or fishing a full tournament day?
-- Thomas Waltz (Fairfax, Vt.)
A: I would say probably fishing a full tournament day. It's a different type of taxing, it's not as rough and painful, but it's a whole day of wear and tear on your body. It's like saying what's more taxing, running a marathon or being in a boxing match.

Q: What is best way to quickly break down a lake in practice?
-- Eric (Tulsa, Okla)
A: I do a lot of research with maps - that's a huge advantage. Just knowing where the ramps are and how to get in and out is a big help. The satellite maps really help break down the lake as well. Being prepared before you even get to the lake is so important. Once you're on the lake, I like to try two or three patterns and try fishing my strengths - which is fishing deep, clear water. Then I'll try more off-the-wall stuff that I'm not as comfortable with. And hopefully after all of that work I'll get on a successful pattern.

Unfortunately, that's all the time we have to chat with Casey Martin today. Thanks, once again, to all the fans who tuned in and participated in today's Reel Chat. And a special thanks to Casey, the 2013 FLW Tour Lake Chickamauga winner, for giving us his time and insights.


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