July 30, 2013 by Kyle Wood
Many of the pros on the Walmart FLW Tour love to fish shallow and for most it could be considered their strength. For guys like Justin Lucas, there are generally just a few tournaments a year where they can dissect shallow cover with a chance to do well in the event. The 2013 FLW Tour season (thanks in large part to a cooler spring) was the perfect year for the shallow guys to play to their strength in nearly every event - namely Lucas who notched his best season on tour by finishing sixth in the Angler of the Year points.
"Because the fish weren't out deep this year I was basically able to run down the lake and fish what I thought looked good everywhere we went," said Lucas.
The Guntersville, Ala., resident got his season off to a solid start with a 36th-place finish at Lake Okeechobee. The second stop of the season would bring Lucas closer to home on Lewis Smith Lake.
"I am from California and have only lived in Alabama for three years now and I have never made a cast on Smith Lake before," the 27-year-old pro said. "Though, Smith Lake reminded me a lot of the lakes I grew up with in California so it felt comfortable. I never fished deep there during the tournament. I spent my time on the bank and focusing on docks."
By attacking Smith Lake with an approach not many keyed on Lucas would earn his first top-20 cut of the year. After cashing two checks from the first two events Lucas encountered his only slip of the season at Beaver Lake finishing in the low 80s.
"Beaver was as simple as I got caught up with the A-rig. I was trying to make it happen because I knew it would do well in the tournament, but it just never went for me. It's as simple as that."
Not one to dwell on a tournament, Lucas was focused and prepared for the next tour stop on Lake Eufaula. He would end up taking third at Eufaula by adjusting on the water as needed - ultimately catching the majority of his fish on the bank; including several that were on beds.
"I never really had that great of a practice this year," Lucas went on to say. "It's easier to practice during a tournament when you are fishing shallow. That is what I did basically all year long but especially at Eufaula. I just tried to keep a fresh mind everyday on the water."
Lucas kept rolling through the rest of the year with a 28th- and 15th-place finish from both Grand Lake and Chickamauga, respectively. His sixth-place finish in the AOY points trumped his previous highest finish of 21st back in 2011.
So how did Lucas consistently put fish in the boat throughout the season?
"I had a 6-inch Tightlines UV finesse worm wacky rigged on a spinning rod at every event. It really was a key player for me this year."
Lucas, who is now in his fourth year on tour, also began to trust his decisions on the water more so than in years past.
"Grand Lake, Smith Lake and Eufaula were all lakes that I had never fished tournaments on before. I didn't really know what to expect with them and I think that helped out a lot. The other thing that helped me this year was feeling more comfortable with making decisions on the water. When I needed to go left, I would. And when I needed to go right, I did. It all worked out great and that was the biggest difference this year."