May 22, 2014 by Mike Reeves
It's not unusual to see the last name "Nixon" near the top of the standings in a bass tournament. But at the Walmart Bass Fishing League Arkie Division tournament at Lake Dardanelle on Feb. 22, the Nixon in the top five wasn't the one most fishing fans are accustomed to seeing show out at tournaments.
In his first career BFL event, Leland Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., youngest brother of Chevy pro Larry Nixon, sacked an impressive 21-pound, 3-ounce limit to finish third, supporting the argument that bass fishing talent often runs in the family.
"There are three of us Nixon brothers," Leland says. "Larry is the oldest, then there's Donnie, who works as a fishing guide on Toledo Bend, and I'm the youngest - 13 years younger than Larry."
In the Nixon family, it seems that the love of bass fishing was developed early and nurtured often.
"My brothers are a lot older than me, but we all ended up with the bass bug," adds Leland. "Dad bought one of the first Rangers ever to come off the production floor in 1969, and Larry started guiding out of it right after Greers Ferry was flooded. When Larry got married and moved to Texas, dad let him take the Ranger with him. He guided for 365 straight days, sent Daddy all the money he made guiding to pay for the boat and Dad bought a new one."
"We [all three brothers] still get to fish with each other now and then, and we're really competitive about it - especially Larry," he adds. "If you get one up on him out of the back of the boat, you don't want to brag about it, or he'll back-boat you the rest of the day. You won't see any more fresh water."
The Nixon Guide Service
Leland, 50, has two children and is happily married to his wife of 30 years, Paula. He owns a heating and air-conditioning business and has fished his whole life, but didn't own a bass boat until five years ago.
"We had a small herd of cattle, and one day they knocked me to the ground," he says. "I decided right then that I was going to sell every one of them and buy myself a brand new bass boat."
Shortly after purchasing his boat, Leland began guiding on Greers Ferry, where he still guides today for walleyes and hybrids in early spring - and black bass at his clients' request. A couple of his career highlights include winning the 2010 Arkie Cup on Greers Ferry and pulling a 10.55-pound largemouth from the lake.
For more information on his guide service, visit his website.
Strong Start in the BFL
During the Dardenelle BFL tournament, Leland picked up on a subtlety that the other anglers in his area missed.
"I was fishing an enormous spawning flat, and cold water had pushed most of the fish out into deeper water," he says. "There were a bunch of competitors fishing out off of the bank, and as the day went on, I think the fishing pressure actually pushed those fish back to the bank. I was the only boat in my area to make the adjustment to move shallow."
He caught most of his fish by working a Strike King Sexy Shad spinnerbait through emergent lily pad stems in 1 1/2 feet of water. He credits his Power-Poles for allowing him to position the boat in the wind, and his Dobyns rod for handling the hard-fighting prespawners.
Leland followed up his high finish at Dardanelle with a 39th-place finish at Lake Ouachita and a 21st-place finish at Greers Ferry. He's currently fourth in the standings in the Arkie Division.
As for his mentors in the fishing industry, it's obvious who Leland would pick.
"Larry's always been my hero, and still is," Leland says. "He hasn't changed a bit from the time we were kids. He's just a great brother."