September 17, 2013 by Brett Carlson
Like it is for most anglers, Ken Golub's rookie season on the Walmart FLW Tour was a trying one. Between learning new lakes and battling against the best sticks in the world, Golub admittedly was overwhelmed and at times felt lost. Year two showed marked improvement as the New York pro cashed checks in four of the six regular-season events and narrowly missed qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup.
While bass fishing is his passion, several business ventures and family obligations take up the majority of his time. Golub is the owner and president of Territory Mortgage Inc., a residential mortgage company based out of Baldwinsville, N.Y. He's been operating Territory Mortgage since 1996 and similar to his fishing career, it has seen both good times and bad.
"We've made a lot of money, but we've also given a lot of money back," Golub said of his primary business. "There were good runs and bad runs. The mortgage world really fell apart five years ago, but we've chipped out of that hole."
In addition to his mortgage business, Golub is an agent for insurance giant Allstate, who is also his primary sponsor on the FLW Tour. Last but not least, Golub guides across upstate New York, squeezing as many trips in as his schedule allows. He's chartered 42 thus far in 2013 and plans to take another 20 or 30 as the fall smallmouth bite turns on in October and November.
"The Finger Lakes get incredibly good in the fall before the freeze," explained Golub. "Yeah you've got to wear gloves and a hat, but it's sensational. I'm at the point now where I'm turning people away. There's very little guide competition up here and just about all my clients are either repeat customers or referrals."
While simultaneously running his businesses, Golub spends as much time as possible with his wife of 16 years and two children, age 13 and 9.
"My family doesn't travel with me on Tour, but they fully support it. When I'm having doubts, they push me to continue with it. I love the sport, but you've got to justify being out there. I'm thankful that I've got a tremendous support team. In addition to my family, I've got a great sponsor in Allstate and I've got a really good management team here at Territory that I've built over the years. I've also built up a bit of a social media following that I feel an obligation to give back to; I take a lot of pride in that."
With time constraints limiting him to just the three official days of practice at each event, Golub fishes as hard as possible while keeping in mind that things change and oftentimes change fast on the water.
"This year I really learned to live in the moment instead of living in the past. I typically had better success fishing a new spot with the same pattern instead of going back and running the same water. That sounds easy, but I had to make a conscious change in my attitude and adopt a willingness to learn a new spot.
"The Clausens and Tharps of the world don't find more fish than I do or have better practices; they just act better on the water. Using that knowledge to catch fish in a place you've never been before is exhilarating; it's a light-switch moment."
Golub finished the season 45th in the points race, ahead of former Angler of the Year winners Clark Wendlandt and Anthony Gagliardi and Forrest Wood Cup champion Scott Suggs.
"I'm definitely happy with that. Competing at that level, 45th is tangible progress. I only made one top-20 cut (at Chickamauga), but I was pretty consistent over the course of the year. My first year on Tour I was actually more familiar with the lakes - mainly Champlain and the Potomac. To do what I did this year without any northern lakes, that's a little more impressive, at least to myself."
While all fishermen have stories, Golub can pinpoint one missed fish that would have brought him to Louisiana for the Forrest Wood Cup.
"I was fishing a rock pile at Lake Eufaula and when I reeled my jig back in an absolute giant was following it up. So I free spooled it, and the fish ate it directly under the boat. I set the hook, probably too hard in hindsight, and then it came up hard, jumped and spit the jig. That was one of those moments where you start questioning everything. It hurt, especially because I didn't have a limit that day and I pride myself on always getting five."
Golub is on the fence about his plans for the future, mainly because to take his fishing to the next level, he'll have to give something else up.
"I'm sitting back and evaluating everything right now. I'm very fortunate to be in a position to do this; I don't take that for granted. Right now I don't have the time to put in the prepractice and that's what it takes to really learn these lakes and succeed. Most guys don't have the outside distraction of business like I do, but I also probably have more financial security than most in that I don't have to catch them to support my family. Right now, I'm battling internally as to whether I put all the chips in or not."
Golub travels on Tour with a 21-foot Coachmen RV. He says the RV allows him to control an otherwise hectic environment.
"The RV allows me to eat healthier and live cleaner. It played a part in how I felt this year, which played a part in how I fished."
While Golub became an internet sensation in 2011 for catching five smallmouths that weighed 19 pounds on one single cast with an umbrella rig, he's not sad to see it go for 2014. He personally abstained from the league-wide vote, but was leaning against it - mainly because of conservation concerns.