UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Tuesday Tour Update: Houston, we have a Cup berth

Jimmy Houston and Jimmy Houston Jr. show off four nice Beaver Lake largemouths.

Jimmy Houston is one of the few anglers who needs virtually no introduction. A stalwart on the Bassmaster trail for decades, a tournament angler on the FLW Tour since 1997 and a television fishing show icon for the better part of 35 years, Houston is arguably one of the most recognizable personalities in the history of the sport. For bass-fishing fans, Houston's presence is unmistakable. You can hear his boisterous laugh coming from seemingly hundreds of yards away. His non-stop comedy routine - both on and offstage - is unparalleled, as is his inimitable platinum blond hairdo. Houston is quick to share a story and even quicker to tell a joke. He also so happens to be one of the best shallower water spinnerbait anglers in the game. In fact, his ever-expanding list of accomplishments within the industry and what he's meant to bass fishing as a whole is almost too multitudinous to articulate. In short, Houston is now and always will be a perfect ambassador for the sport. But amazingly enough, with all of the accolades and storied history that Houston brings to the table, the legendary veteran from Cookson, Okla., had never once qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup - until this year. Chevy pro Jimmy Houston holds up part of his limit. Finishing the 2013 FLW Tour season ranked 35th overall, Houston grabbed his first career automatic invite to the Forrest Wood Cup, becoming the oldest angler to have ever qualified for the Cup via the FLW Tour in the sport's history. (Mike Folkestad of Orange, Calif., is technically the oldest angler to have ever qualified for the Cup outright. However, he did so via the FLW Series, beating out Houston by two months and 22 days). So what was does it mean to Houston to have finally qualified for Cup after chasing that goal for nearly 16 years? "Well, it really is a neat deal. Recently, I haven't been fishing but four FLW tournaments per year until this year. But earlier this season I had some business down in Florida so everything kind of worked out and I had a chance to fish the first event of the year at Lake Okeechobee - and normally I don't get an opportunity to do that," said Houston. "I did well there (a 29th-place finish) and then went to Lewis Smith Lake, which I intended to fish anyway, and then finished in 14th place at Beaver Lake right after that. At that point I was pretty high in the standings and my wife said I should try to fish them all this year and try to qualify for the Cup. It was an important thing for me to do and in the end, everything worked out." With regard to year-end championships, Houston acknowledged that times have definitely changed in the industry since his days as a Bassmaster Classic competitor - an event he qualified for 15 times from 1975 to 1998. "I've fished 15 Bassmaster Classics over my lifetime but I've never had the opportunity to fish for $500,000 like I do at this year's Cup," he said. "Obviously fishing the Classics was an honor, but the money back then wasn't what it is today. So to have a chance to win that much money now is really an amazing thing." Despite his age, Houston said he can still fish with the best of them. As such, he said his accomplishment in gaining Cup qualification this year has given him some bragging rights among his contemporaries - as he can now credibly argue that you're never too old to make an impact on the sport's biggest stage. "I turn 69 at the end of this month and I'm not sure if anybody has ever qualified for the Cup at that age so I'm pretty proud of that. I actually mentioned that to (fishing legend) Roland Martin and he said, `That may be true, but that record is only going last until next year when I qualify,'" said Houston (laughing). "Roland is 73 years old and he plans on fishing the FLW Tour next year so we'll have to see. But he's a great angler and a great friend and I can't wait to have him on the Tour. I've been trying to get Bill Dance (involved) as well but those guys are worried about getting beat by all of these younger guys. I just tell them, `Of course you're going to get beat. We all do.' But that doesn't mean that we can't win as well." Unlike most professional sports, Houston argues that bass fishing is unique in that it permits people of virtually any age level to participate at the highest levels - assuming they have the talent. "This is the only professional sport where somebody could compete at this level at my age and that's why I believe it's the greatest sport," he said. "To be able to play at this level at 50, 60 or even 70 years of age is remarkable. We're playing against 30 and 35 year olds in this game; and you simply can't do that in any other sport." But that doesn't mean it's easy. Chevy pro Jimmy Houston didn"It's much more difficult to play at this age than it used to be," he said. "Getting old is a full-time job (laughing). But at my age, when you fish 14 or 15 hours a day you're a lot more tired than you used to be. You don't see as well and physically, it takes a toll on you. But then again, I never intended to live this long (laughs). So it's nice to still be able to compete." In addition to his age, Houston has some other hurdles to deal with as well when it comes to staying on top of his game as a tournament competitor. With his busy schedule - including tight television production deadlines, numerous personal appearances and myriad industry conferences to attend - Houston isn't afforded the tournament preparation time that most pros rely on so heavily for success. "It's a challenge," said Houston, regarding his ability to switch gears from being a de facto bass-fishing industry ambassador to tournament angler with the flip of one calendar day. "With my schedule, I hardly ever get to practice a full three days and almost never get to pre-fish. I simply don't have the time. But one of the things that really helped me this year was that I got a chance to practice for three days at pretty much every event. And when I get to practice, I practice hard. I'm usually the last one to head back to the marina and it's usually dark by then. I know a lot of guys say they do that but I'm not so sure because when I come back in I don't see too many other boats - if any." And it's precisely this seemingly unlimited amount of energy that makes Houston an endearing personality as well as a perpetual force in the industry. Jimmy Houston entertains the crowd onstage ... as usual. "I've been doing TV shows for 35 years and I make about 100 personal appearances a year. At times we have the grand kids staying with us as well. So we're going in a lot of different directions all the time. We just go, go, go - our family calls it `burning daylight.' We go to bed late and get up at 5 a.m. and start all over again. We really just don't know any other way to live. Nowadays they have a word for it; I think they call it multitasking (laughing). But honestly it is hard concentrating on tournament fishing (exclusively). But I do love it. And that's the main reason why I keep on doing it." Although Houston's calendar is filled to the brim with obligations, tournaments and guest appearances, the Oklahoma pro said he still relies heavily on the support of his family. "Another big advantage I have is that I get to practice with my wife, Chris. And she's one of the best female anglers of all time. She's won seven Bass-N-Gal Anger of the Year titles, three Bass-N-Gal Classics and fished all 21 Bass-N-Gal Classics - so she's an extremely qualified bass fisherman. And having her to help me in practice is an important deal." Whether it's because he's now had some time to reflect on his long and unparalleled career or whether it's because he's once again making history at the ripe old age of 69, Houston said that earning a berth in this year's Cup is one of the prouder moments of his tournament-fishing life. Jimmy Houston of Cookson, Okla., in a rare moment of serenity."One of the things I really realized this year after qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup was just how difficult that task really is. You have 175 anglers and only 35 make it so that's about 20 percent of the field," he said. "I finished 35th overall in the standings and I only had two tournament days all year where I didn't catch a limit. One was at Beaver Lake but I still had a nice 13-pound stringer with only four fish. The other was at Lake Chickamauga, really my only bad day all year, and that dropped me down in the standings. So you really can't have any bad finishes and still qualify for the Cup. And I think that's why I really appreciate this qualification process. There were a lot of great anglers who didn't qualify this year and that just (reinforces) just how hard it is to make it to the Cup. Not to take anything away from my Bassmaster Classic qualifications over the years, but I'm probably more proud and pleased with qualifying for this year's Cup than any other year-end championship - especially at my age." So now that Houston has finally gained his first-ever Cup berth, what are the chances we'll see the Oklahoma pro on the winner's podium on Aug. 18? "I feel good about fishing the Red River. I actually felt like I had a really good chance to win there in 2010 before the FLW Tour event was cancelled (due to unsafe river conditions). But I think I should do really well there this year. I'm looking forward to it," he said. "Shallow water fishing is what I'm pretty good at. I've fished rivers my whole life so it's going to be a great opportunity. The one (drawback) is that it's going to be physically challenging. It's going to be really hot and humid and that takes a toll on your body - but it'll be the same conditions for everyone else. "One big advantage I'm going to have for the Cup is that I'm going to get to practice all four days," Houston continued. "I was originally scheduled to be at a conference during that time, but when I qualified, I was able to change my plans so I could be there the entire time. Those practice days are going to allow me to fish at my leisure and explore more areas than I normally would get to do - and I think that's really going to help me." And if Houston were able to pull off arguably the biggest win of his career this August, just how big would that smile be? "Winning the Cup would be pretty special. If I did that, I just might quit while I was ahead," he said. "But then again, knowing me, I'd be right back at Okeechobee for the start of next season. I mean, I've never seen somebody quit fishing after winning a championship. Have you?" Related links: Forrest Wood Cup preview: The contenders II

Tags: article 


Fishing 101: Soft-Plastic Swimbaits

While all swimbaits accomplish the same thing – imitating a prey fish swimming through the water – there are now hundreds of baits from which to choose, and there are models for tackling just about any scenario. READ MORE »


Critter Shots of the Year

You see some things when you’re on the water for 10 months covering tournaments from Florida to California. Most of the time our on-the-water team has its cameras trained on the anglers, but every once in a while something from nature intervenes that is just too cool to pass up. READ MORE »


How to Succeed as a Co-angler

Fishing tournaments as a co-angler is a great first step to take toward a more advanced level of competitive bass fishing. Not only do you get more time on the water, you often end up fishing behind some very experienced anglers that can teach you some valuable lessons. READ MORE »


Episode 9 of FLW TV Airs Tonight

Watch as Ontario native Curtis Richardson qualifies for the Forrest Wood Cup and earns the title of Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American Champion on Kentucky Lake. READ MORE »


Peek Will Sit Out 2016 Tour

Alabama pro Richard Peek will forego the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season to resolve back problems. Peek, of Centre, Ala., was told by his doctor that he should take off a year from tournament fishing so that surgery or other measures could be performed to correct a spinal deformity and relieve his pain. READ MORE »


2016 BFL All-American Qualifiers

With the completion of the Walmart Bass Fishing League Wild Card at Lake Hartwell – won by Mike Devere – all but The Bass Federation National Championship qualifiers are in place for the 2016 BFL All-American June 8-11 on Lake Barkley presented by the Cadiz-Trigg County Tourism Commission. READ MORE »


Jigging Up Late Fall Smallies

In the North Country, as fall fades and sportsmen settle in for the arrival of winter, many people put the boat away and forsake the water for the woods. For those willing to brave the elements on the lake, however, the reward is some of the best smallmouth bass fishing of the year for some of the biggest fish of the season. READ MORE »


Rayovac FLW Series Registration Opens

This is the week to register for everyone planning on fishing the FLW Series in 2016. Registration has been open for the top 40 pros and co-anglers from each division of the 2015 FLW Series and the top 50 boaters and co-anglers from each division of the 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) for some time. Tuesday is when everyone else can begin to get in on the action. READ MORE »


College Championship Airs Tonight

Tune in for the 2015 FLW College Fishing National Championship to see Patrick Walters and Gettys Brannon of the University of South Carolina capture the title in front of the hometown crowd at Lake Murray. READ MORE »


5 Pros Weigh in on Hanselman

When Ray Hanselman won the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Championship to cap his season-long dominance of the Texas Division just about everyone tuned in. It wasn’t just the stunning sweep that captivated pros and fans alike; it was how he did it – leading after the second day in every event he fished and winning with stunning margins of 5 pounds, 8 ounces at Amistad, 7-2 at Sam Rayburn, 12 pounds even on Texoma and 8-2 at the Championship. READ MORE »


Episode 7 of FLW TV Airs Tonight

Watch as Shawn Gordon pulls off the win on Grand Lake in Oklahoma and qualifies for the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in his home state of Arkansas. READ MORE »


How Hanselmania Happened

In case you’ve been stuck in a tree stand or out of social media range and didn’t already know it, Hanselman won all three regular-season Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments in 2015. And at the end of October he topped off his stellar run by winning the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ohio River out of Paducah, Ky. READ MORE »


2014 Cup Wins Sports Tourism Award

The 2014 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C., was recently named the 2015 Champion of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism for the mid- to large market category by Sports Destination Management magazine. READ MORE »


5 Best Smallmouth Destinations

Fall is the time of year to treat yourself to one last fishing excursion before the snowflakes start to fall. And if you’re going to take a fishing road trip amid a backdrop of autumn’s colorful foliage, it might as well be for fat, angry brown bass, right? READ MORE »


College Championship Field Set

Now that the 2015 FLW College Fishing Conference Championships are complete, 58 teams have earned the opportunity to fish in the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »


2016 FLW College Fishing Rules



2016 College Fishing Schedule and Rules

The 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship will be hosted by the Mountain Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau on Lake Keowee in Seneca, S.C, March 17-19. All of the Championship action will be internationally televised on NBC Sports Network, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network. READ MORE »


Pink Power Takes the Stage

The reds and golds of autumn have been superseded by pink these days as anglers participating in FLW events have been showing their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which runs through October. READ MORE »


2016 BFL Rules



2016 BFL Schedule, Rules and Details

FLW recently announced the 2016 Walmart Bass Fishing League schedule, rules and details. The BFL will include 128 tournaments in 24 divisions in 2016. Awards being offered total nearly $8 million, including as much as $120,000 to the winning boater and $60,000 to the winning co-angler in the nationally-televised All-American, plus advancement to the Forrest Wood Cup for the All-American boater winner. READ MORE »