UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Ohio River

Young, Inexperienced and Really Good

Marcus Sykora, the 2014 All-American champion, earned a ticket to the Forrest Wood Cup with his win on Wilson Lake

Demographically speaking, professional bass fishermen are getting younger and better all the time. That’s one conclusion to draw from the roster of anglers who qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup this year.

When the competition opens the morning of Aug. 14 on Lake Murray near Columbia, S.C., there will be 25 pro contestants who have fished the Walmart FLW Tour six seasons or less. Of those, nine have fished the circuit only this season, and three – including the FLW College Fishing champion (Austin Felix of the University of Minnesota), BFL All-American winner (Marcus Sykora of Missouri) and one Rayovac FLW Series qualifier (Joseph Wood of Massachusetts) – have never fished the Tour at all. The remaining 20 qualifiers have spent between seven and 19 years competing at the top level.

That’s not to say the old guard of FLW is in retreat. Most of the top 10 pros in the Angler of the Year standings are veterans. For instance, there’s Angler of the Year Andy Morgan (19 years on Tour), Brent Ehrler (third in the standings, 10 years), Mark Rose (fifth, 16 years), Scott Martin (ninth, 15 years) and Wesley Strader (10th, 18 years).

What it does suggest, however, is that more 20-something anglers have what it takes to compete successfully. Their learning curves are much less steep, and it shows in their ability to hold their own against anyone in a tournament. Perhaps more accurately, they are better able to figure out the nuances of bass fishing and solve problems than most of their predecessors were able to at the same age. Experience doesn’t guarantee dominance, but expertise most assuredly does, and age doesn’t really factor into it.

Cody Meyer, Andy Morgan’s nemesis in the AOY race this year, isn’t exactly a seasoned pro, but he fishes like one. He thinks that the youth movement marches in lockstep to technological advances.

“I talked with Larry Nixon about this at Kentucky Lake,” says Meyer, who’s fished the Tour for six years and will be competing in his sixth Cup. “Larry said that when he started fishing, guys used paper maps, and when you found fish you had to line up ‘this with that’ so you could find the spot again. And when you returned, chances are you were the only one there.

“Today, you can look on your fish-finder and go right to a spot,” he adds. “There are no secrets, and it’s made everybody more competitive. Electronics are incredible, and the younger guys are up-to-speed on how to use them. I pride myself in staying ahead of the learning curve, and it’s helped me tremendously. Pros of an earlier generation had to figure things out for themselves and waste a lot of time locating fish. In three days of practice you learned what you could learn. On some lakes now you don’t even have to fish in practice – just run over a spot with your fish-finder and see if the school is there and how big. Pickwick and Kentucky lakes were two prime examples.”

Richard Peek, whose career path thus far could serve as a role model for aspiring pros, credits the proliferation of organized tournaments – especially those for youth – as being a major catalyst in the skill level of younger fishermen.

“Used to, there weren’t as many opportunities for young anglers to participate in tournaments and develop their skills along the way as they got older,” says Peek, who was 25th in the overall standings this, his first season as a Walmart FLW Tour pro. The Centre, Ala., angler was also runner-up to Jason Lambert (21st) in the Rookie of the Year race.

“Now there’s high school fishing (through the Student Angler Federation partnership that involves FLW and The Bass Federation) and FLW College Fishing, which is where I came up,” Peek adds. “What these events do for young people is give them a taste of tournament fishing and whether they might be good at it. It teaches them how to make good decisions, how to develop their own systems and styles, how to interact with other people, and just generally develop the manners it takes to be a successful tournament fisherman. I wouldn’t have traded my experience in College Fishing for anything, and I imagine there are some high school fishermen coming along now that will say the same thing one of these days.”

Peek, whose first major tournament victory was in the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Division Regional on Lake Okeechobee in 2009 with fishing partner Caleb Rodgers, also credits the co-angler format for honing his skills and helping to provide him with the confidence to become a pro. Peek was a co-angler at the Tour level for three years before he chose to become a full-fledged professional.

“I’ve said it a hundred times – whether it’s BFL, Rayovac or Tour, the best way to break in is by being a co-angler. It doesn’t cost much to see whether you’re cut out for tournament fishing,” advises Peek. “The guys you’re likely to draw at the BFL or Rayovac levels are local guys who are really good on a particular body of water. So that’s another part of your education. You can build on those experiences, take what you’ve learned by fishing with the best and decide if you’re cut out for it. I did, and it worked out for me. Look at the track records of some of the other pros on the website [flwoudoors.com]. It worked out for a lot of them, too.”

Tom Monsoor, the veteran Wisconsin pro who is also fishing in the Forrest Wood Cup, thinks that the reason more good young fishermen are coming along boils down to a familiar motivation: money.

“Tournament fishing has really gotten to be serious business,” says Monsoor. “The word’s gotten out: There’s big prize money at stake, maybe millions of dollars, and also the money you’re able to make from sponsors if you consistently finish near the top of the standings every year and help them get the word out about their products. Anything that has that kind of money involved in it, like tournament fishing does now, attracts more and better participants. So you’re seeing younger guys coming in, and the good ones are really good. They’re computer-savvy and know where and how to get the best information. They’re a whole lot further along these days when they start.”

In other words, though the sport of professional bass fishing has been around for a long time, veterans don’t have a monopoly on excellence.

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-09-04-birge-s-post-tournament-freeze

Birge’s Post-Tournament Freeze

During cryotherapy, light cotton gloves, socks with slippers and an undergarment protect the patient’s extremities from possible frostbite. And even though the process rapidly lowers the patient’s surface skin temperature to about 30 degrees, it will not freeze skin tissues because exposure time in the chamber is limited. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-09-02-top-10-photos-around-the-cup

Top 10 Photos Around the Cup

The Forrest Wood Cup didn’t just take place on the water at Lake Ouachita. Takeoff, weigh-in and the FLW Expo all offered great chances to see the pros in action or just be around fishing. The following are a collection of the best shots from four great days in Arkansas. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-28-planned-power-outage-in-ky-office

Planned Power Outage in KY Office

A planned power outage is in effect around the Benton, Ky., area causing phone lines and internet to be temporarily unavailable. It should last until roughly 5 p.m. CT. Do not call the help line or try to register online during this time. Instead, if you'd like to sign up for an event call the tournament director for the particluar tournament you'd like to fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-27-state-fish-art-contest-best-in-show-winner

State-Fish Art Contest Best in Show Winner

McKenna Litynski, 12, likes to draw, but she admits her older sister, Brenna, is the better artist and the one who teaches her most of what she knows. Both are pretty talented, though, especially considering they’ve each been state winners in previous years of the Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest presented by FLW. They both did so again in 2015, but McKenna did something this year that her older sister hasn’t: She won best in show. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-26-top-10-baits-from-the-forrest-wood-cup-

Top 10 Baits from the Forrest Wood Cup

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-25-2015-bass-bbq-festival-results

2015 Bass & BBQ Festival Results

The Bass and BBQ Festival presented by KSSN-FM took place in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark. The two-day competition was sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), which boasts more than 19,000 members worldwide and is the largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-white-wins-tbf-junior-world-championship

White Wins TBF Junior World Championship

West Virginia’s Tyler White hit the mother lode of schooling bass to win the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship Aug. 21-22 on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. In doing so, he topped a hard-fishing field of 39 TBF junior state champions ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old, and claimed a $2,500 scholarship to the school of his choice, plus a $250 Cabela’s gift card. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-huntsville-wheeler-lake-to-host-2016-forrest-wood-cup

Huntsville, Wheeler Lake to Host 2016 Forrest Wood Cup

FLW and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced Saturday that Huntsville, Ala., will be hosting the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, Aug. 4-7, 2016, on Wheeler Lake. This event marks the first time that the Forrest Wood Cup has visited Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-young-leads-tbf-junior-world-championship

Young Leads TBF Junior World Championship

Kentucky’s Hunter Young worked the “ceiling” with a vengeance to sack a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 12 ounces and claim the overall lead on day one of the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. The event is being held in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. “My day went pretty well, even though I lost a few fish that cost me more weight than what I had,” he says. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-flw-sanctions-mexican-bass-tournaments

FLW Sanctions Mexican Bass Tournaments

This morning, FLW signed an agreement with LUTCOM SA DE CV, of Mexico City, Mexico, to bring its internationally sanctioned bass fishing tournaments to the United States’ southern neighbor as part of the International Division of the Rayovac FLW Series. The agreement was signed by Jaime Luengo, president and CEO of LUTCOM SA DE CV, and FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel during the FLW Morning Show before the day-two takeoff of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-13-british-bbq-star-heading-to-hot-springs

British BBQ Star Heading to Hot Springs

Now, a little barbecue and a little bass fishing are nothing out of the ordinary for Southern folks in the summertime. But Shea’s not Southern. He’s not even American. Shea is one of the premier British competitive cookers, and he’s traveling with his crew – the British Bulldogs BBQ team – across the Atlantic to test his slow-cooking mettle against some of the very best pitmasters in an event sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-11-weekend-wrap-up-aug-10-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – Aug. 10, 2015

The dog days of August are pretty well upon us now. Last weekend the BFL Illini and Northeast divisions were both in action, but that was it. Of course, there is still plenty to pay attention to as the Forrest Wood Cup gets closer by the minute. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-10-houston-rebuilding-lake-after-dam-failure

Houston Rebuilding Lake After Dam Failure

One of pro bass fishing’s true legends has vowed to rebuild it. In the process, he plans to resurrect what might have been one of the best private trophy bass fisheries the state of Oklahoma has ever seen. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-04-technical-issues-due-to-service-provider-outage

Technical Issues Due To Service Provider Outage

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-24-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with a tournament on Saturday, July 25, when the Shenandoah division takes on the James River. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-22-how-to-fish-the-prop-bee

How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-16-flw-tournaments-headed-to-china

FLW Tournaments Headed to China

FLW announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Sunny Lake (Beijing) Sport Development, LLC, from China to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern Asian nation at a contract signing today at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando. The agreement was signed by FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel and Gang Li, vice president of the Florida Culture Exchange Association (FCEA), representing Sunny Lake Sport Development. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with two tournaments on Saturday, July 11. The Great Lakes division takes on the Wolf River Chain and the Michigan division stops at the Detroit River for an event presented by Navionics. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-5-frog-tactics-that-work-now

5 Frog Tactics that Work Now

Beyond the simple joy of slamming hooks into the mouth of a shallow, surface-feeding bass, frogs also offer technical advantages that allow anglers to capitalize on some of the best big-bass action of the summer. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-martin-earns-first-aoy-title

Martin Earns First AOY Title

Prior to the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season, Scott Martin had banked a total of three top-10 Angler of the Year finishes in his 15-year career as a pro. It was impressive, but not indicative of his greatness. The truth of the matter is that Scott Martin was a winner, always taking risks in search of equal reward. That risky fishing has led Martin to more than $2 million in earnings, a Forrest Wood Cup win and four Tour-level wins. But the gambles burned him often enough that he never earned AOY. READ MORE »