My view from the back

Former FLW College Fishing champ Jake Gipson works his lure past a dock. He's fishing the 2014 Tour as a co-angler.

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of blogs written by Jake Gipson, the two-time FLW College Fishing National Champion who competes now as a co-angler on the Walmart FLW Tour. After graduating from the University of Florida summa cum laude, Gipson accepted a scholarship to the University of Alabama School of Law. He graduated from there this past May, and, because he ranked first in the class, Gipson delivered the valedictory speech at commencement. Following a fairly successful career as a college angler, I decided to keep progressing up the tournament ladder. The year after graduating from the University of Florida, I fished what was then the Rayovac FLW Series as a professional angler. While I enjoyed some success in my first two tournaments, I quickly realized I had a lot to learn as I got farther away from my home waters. I figured there would be no better way to learn than to get in the boat with some of the best pros in the world as a co-angler on the Walmart FLW Tour. My thought was that getting to see first-hand what makes these guys successful (and sometimes unsuccessful) would help take my fishing to the next level. It's not an original idea. In fact, a number of the most successful professionals on Tour started their careers as co-anglers. After trying out a few co-angler events last year, I plunged headfirst into the 2014 FLW Tour as a co-angler. The transition from the front of the boat to the back certainly has its ups and downs. For someone who is used to calling the shots and fishing his own style, competing as a co-angler can be downright frustrating at first. Once past that initial reaction, however, I found that fishing out of the back did help improve my skills and mental game as an angler. My experience at Beaver Lake in 2013 provides a good example. After a first-day zero, I had a blast catching a tournament-best 16-pound bag with Michael Neal. While that was certainly fun, my true lesson came the next day. As luck would have it, I made the co-angler cut and was paired with Stacey King. Shortly after we met, Stacey informed me that we would be fishing for smallmouths using light line at the dam. To a Florida boy, hearing that was about as foreign to me as hearing we were going to be fishing on Mars. However, after a few adjustments and a little help from Stacey (who is a phenomenal guy) the next day, I was catching fish in a totally new way. To say I learned a ton would be an understatement: 6-pound test and 1/16-ounce jigheads were nowhere to be found in my tackle box before then, but you can bet they are in there now. In addition to learning some new techniques, fishing as a co-angler has forced me to reevaluate how I approach an area. We all know how we would prefer to fish, but that often isn't an option as a co-angler. Sometimes, fishing your own way is a hopeless cause. For instance, if you consider yourself to be good at flipping and think you're going to catch fish flipping behind Randall Tharp when he is flipping, you might want to reconsider your options. Then again, sometimes the pro will simply have the boat positioned so your preferred technique is impossible to apply. As I've encountered situations like that throughout the season, I've had to reassess how I fish and discovered that there is usually more than one approach that will put bass in the livewell for you. At times, going to a finesse tactic, such as a shaky head or drop-shot, is the best bet. At other times I've found that I can catch fish in a part of the water column that I wouldn't normally fish. That might mean throwing out the opposite side of the boat to search for untapped structure or keying in on a depth the guy in front simply isn't fishing. In particular, at Sam Rayburn I narrowly missed the top 20 by keying in on super-shallow fish. While my pros were targeting grass lines, I made sure to hit any good cover in ultra-shallow water. Although I didn't catch as many, my 4-pound average attested to the quality of the fish I boated. This year I've learned a ton, which hopefully I will get to share with you in future posts. And perhaps the best lesson I have learned is this: Sometimes to get better in the front of the boat, you need to spend some time in the back of the boat. Although fishing the Tour as a co-angler might not be right for everyone, I would encourage anyone to fish from the back of the boat occasionally, even if it's just fishing with a buddy. Once you get past the initial unfamiliarity with it all, not to mention the limitations it presents, you just might be surprised what you can learn.

Tags: blog  jake-gipson 

/tips/2015-04-24-blog-east-vs-west

Blog: East vs. West

I’m not going to say the West is better than the East, or vice-versa. However, I am going to say that where fishing is concerned, there are some distinct differences between the two. The list is long and I’m sure that you can think of many additional differences, but here are a few things I have found that separates the two locales. For the purposes of this blog, let’s make the dividing line the Mississippi River although I think we should include Texas with the East. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-21-blog-the-bucket-list

Blog: The Bucket List

I lived my first 25 years in the Midwest, and I used to get horrible cabin fever this time of year. Sitting in front of a television and watching Jimmy, Hank, Roland and Bill catch monster bass on a spinnerbait on every single cast only made it worse. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-blog-back-in-the-groove

Blog: Back in the Groove

It feels good to be in full swing of the tournament season again. We just finished the second stop of the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake, and it was an excellent event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-5-pivotal-moments-in-my-career

5 Pivotal Moments in my Career

The FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake marked the beginning of my senior campaign. While it was great to get on some open water for the first time in months (though we didn’t finish very well), it also had me looking back at five events that, more than any others, led me to this point. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-14-a-year-of-new-firsts

A Year of New Firsts

There are a lot of firsts in my life now: my first full year on the Walmart FLW Tour, the first time not to fish any full B.A.S.S. circuit in many years, the first time to fish with co-anglers in a long while, the first time to compete at Beaver Lake, and so on. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-up-then-down-again

Up, Then Down Again

The highs and lows in this sport are amazing. They are amazing and sometimes hard to deal with. Sometimes you just have to test yourself on how thick your skin really is. For example, consider my highs and lows in the last few months. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-07-sweet-home-alabama

Sweet Home Alabama

Hey everyone, I'm just getting back and caught up from the second stop of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lewis Smith Lake. The lake was fishing like never before, and all the fish have grown up quickly on those blueback herring. Now that I've been back home a week and watched all the videos and read all the articles about the top 10 anglers I can say I have zero regrets! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-02-when-everything-comes-together

When Everything Comes Together

Dave Lefebre describes what baits and techniques he used to win the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake in this week's blog. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-18-expect-change-and-adapt-to-it

Expect Change and Adapt to It

Ish Monroe explains how to adapt to changing conditions and recommends to always fish your strengths in this weeks blog. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-17-so-you-want-to-be-a-co-angler-

So You Want to be a Co-Angler?

First and foremost, I know I’m fishing the tournament as a co-angler and I make sure that I not only stay out of my pro’s way, but I do what I can to assist him throughout the day. This starts at the ramp with assisting him with the launch where possible. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-16-a-30-piece-puzzle-with-four-pieces-missing

A 30-Piece Puzzle with Four Pieces Missing

The whole time I was down in Florida during the FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho I felt like I was trying to put together a 30-piece puzzle with four pieces missing. The weather was right, the water temperature was right, the thousands of acres of vegetation looked right, but one thing was wrong: the fish! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-12-a-clean-slate

A Clean Slate

The 2015 season opener of the Walmart FLW Tour wasn’t at Okeechobee, as in recent years, but at Lake Toho in central Florida. I was excited about the change, and even more pumped to start a fresh new season after blowing my motor on day one of the first event last year. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-27-toho-bound

Toho Bound

You have to understand that having home field advantage in fishing is the absolute worst. There are so many demons; you have too much information, you start fishing the lake’s history – it goes on and on and it’s very hard for a professional angler to mentally break that barrier. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-25-3-thoughts-on-toho

3 Thoughts on Toho

I was without power for three days after the first storm, but it snowed again this weekend and there is supposed to be more weather on the way. Suffice to say, I can’t get to Florida and Lake Toho fast enough. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-20-east-to-west

East to West

As a tournament angler, I realize that a primary aspect of my job is to be able to catch fish anywhere, in all types of fisheries, under a variety of conditions. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-12-from-swamp-pro-to-bass-pro

From Swamp Pro to Bass Pro

When most people hear the name “T-Roy Broussard,” they think of me as the Texan in the big green airboat on the reality television show Swamp People. Three years ago I was introduced to households across the world as a burly alligator hunter that made a living off of the land. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-01-29-here-we-go

Here We Go

The 2015 bass tournament season is officially underway and I am super-excited about the changing dynamics. There is no doubt that the economy is improving and the 250-boat field that fished the first Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee is testament to that. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-01-13-are-you-taking-care-of-business-

Are You Taking Care of Business?

My dad started taking me fishing when I was two. My very first job was at Hi’s Tackle Box and after that I spent a few years working for Fisherman’s Choice. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to spend my life doing what I love and enjoy doing. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-30-the-ebb-and-flow-of-sponsorships

The Ebb and Flow of Sponsorships

Many of the readers who follow FLW know me as one of the pros who fishes the Walmart FLW Tour. What many of you don’t know is that I also work in the industry. I get to see what happens behind the scenes more than the average fisherman or fellow fan does. I get to see the sponsor contracts, and the ins and outs of how business works. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-22-ish-monroe-travels-to-china

Ish Monroe Travels to China

Among the benefits of having sponsors are the unique opportunities that they provide to you. For instance, during this offseason I got to travel to China for the first time in my life to work with one of my main sponsors, River2Sea, designing and perfecting the Ish Monroe Series. I stopped in Hong Kong on my way there and back. It’s so high-tech and advanced; it’s amazing. READ MORE »