UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Co-angler New Eyeing Another Major Title

Co-angler New Eyeing Another Major Title
Co-angler Bryan New weighs 4-15 on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour on Beaver Lake and finishes in sixth place.

While there are co-anglers in the Walmart FLW Tour with more years of experience and higher career earnings than Bryan New, there aren’t many who have put together a resume as impressive as his in such a short time.

New is fishing his fifth season on Tour, and in that span he’s never finished lower than 19th in the Co-angler of the Year standings. He’s qualified for four Forrest Wood Cups and finished in the top five each time, including his 2014 win. And he has 10 top-10 finishes.

Stats aside, New is widely considered to be one of the best co-angler talents in the sport and a shoo-in to transition some day to a successful career in the front of the boat.

The pro transition could be very near for the North Carolina co-angler. New currently leads the Co-angler of the Year race, and he’s hoping that if he can put the finishing touches on a stellar season this week at Lake Champlain and take home the COY trophy, he’ll be able to draw the sponsor support and media attention he needs to make the move.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed in this sport, and New has a major hurdle to overcome when the Tour finale kicks off Thursday in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

 

Co-angler Bryan New leads a leaping smallmouth to the net held by Garry Woodruff.

Risk and reward

This isn’t New’s first trip to Champlain. He finished 26th as a co-angler there in the 2012 Tour event, and the only two Costa FLW Series Northern Division events he’s fished were special trips that he made to Champlain. He finished second in 2013 and fourth in 2015. In fact, New says Champlain is among his favorite places to fish, though it poses enough risk to have him slightly concerned.

“It’s definitely going to be super-good for a co-angler,” he says. “I’ve always done really good there, but I’m kind of worried about it because there are so many things that can go wrong at Champlain: making long runs, mechanical problems and also dead fish. Smallmouths die so easy in that rough water.”

As odd as it might seem, he’s also a bit concerned that the fishing on Champlain could be too good.

“I’d rather have a really tough tournament because if you know it’s a tournament where everybody is catching them, you can’t just go out there and fish for five. You have to try to catch as many as possible,” New explains.

Target species is also a factor this week in what will be a multi-species event. The southern end of the lake near Ticonderoga is famous for its largemouth population. Smallmouth anglers will have a better time of it up north closer to takeoff.

“With smallmouths you have more time [to fish],” says New. “The stuff is not as pressured, and smallmouths are so much easier to catch.

“I think the ideal draws for me would be a guy like Larry Nixon or somebody like that who’s probably going to be fishing for smallmouths, and then JT [Kenney] or Glenn Browne, who’re going to be going to Ti. Then you can fish for smallmouths one day to keep you where you need to be and largemouths one day to have a chance to catch up if you need to.”

 

Bryan New is your Forrest Wood Cup co-angler champion! He brought in 15-14 over two days and earned $50,000!

A successful background

As if there weren’t enough variables in tournament fishing, co-anglers have no say over where they fish or how the boat is positioned. They’re at the mercy of the boaters they draw.

That’s part of what makes a co-angler such as New so impressive. Like the all-time great co-anglers who’ve fished the Tour, he gets it done no matter who he fishes with or where they fish.

At least part of that success can be attributed to attitude.

“I guess anything I’ve ever done in life, whether it be working or whatever, I want to be the best that I can be,” New says. “It’s not that I want to be better than somebody else. I want to be the best that I can be. I put everything I have into it. Literally, fishing is everything to me. If I’m at home and I’m not working or spending time with family, I’m doing something related to fishing. That’s all I think about. I live it. That’s all I want to do.

“There are a lot of people who fish as a co-angler to learn and enjoy themselves. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve learned a lot and have enjoyed it, but when it comes down to it I’m doing it to try to make a living.”

The other half of the equation is on-the-water performance. New has mastered how to catch fish behind the best pros in the business, without affecting those pros along the way.

“In every tournament I’ve ever fished as a co-angler, there’ve been opportunities I could’ve taken that would’ve helped me weight-wise, but I’m never going to get in anybody’s way. I just try to fish for different fish than they’re fishing for,” he explains. “Also, I know that most of the pros have a family. I live at home. I don’t have many bills. I don’t have nearly as much to pay for as they do. I don’t have nearly the entry fee that they do, and I respect that. And even if I did have it [the expenses], it wouldn’t be right for me to take something away from them that they worked so hard for.”

His approach to the back of the boat has opened New’s eyes to opportunities he might never have noticed. For instance, he’s learned to catch fish in the middle of pockets or off the bank while his pro is fishing the best-looking cover on the bank.

Often, the strategy pays off.

“No. 1, you’re going to fish for a virgin fish if you do like that, and you’re doing what’s right. And if you do like that, they [the pros] are going to take care of you if they ever get the opportunity. If you get to pushing or get in their way, why would they help you?”

 

Bryan New

Looking ahead

So far, New has positioned himself perfectly to pursue his dream of fishing professionally. As he mentioned, his living expenses are low. He has a flexible job working for his uncle’s landscaping business. He guides a little, and he makes some money fishing local tournaments.

More recently, New started fishing FLW Bass Fishing League and Costa FLW Series events as a boater, and he’s earned about $18,000 in the last season and a half.

With everything angling toward a pro career, folks naturally want to know when the change will come. They asked the question when he won the Cup in 2014, and again when he finished runner-up in 2015. If New can lock up the COY title this week, that’s probably the only question he’s going to hear from anybody.

“I’ve really thought about that hard here the last week,” he admits. “I’d like to just forget what this tournament is because it could turn out to be the biggest tournament of my career, and I don’t want that to get in my head. I don’t think it will, but I don’t want to be thinking about that instead of thinking about fishing.

“If everything lines up and I do end up wining Co-angler of the Year, I’m really going to push to get some [sponsor] help for next year. And I would consider at least fishing the Norman [FLW Tour] Invitational [the top five co-anglers on Tour qualify] and just try to go from there.”

New says he’s ready for the change, not only for the income potential of being a pro, but also because he’s ready to shift his focus to being the one in control of the boat and the one responsible for figuring out the fish.

He says he’s very, very picky about his tackle, from organization to rigging. He runs entirely different gear setups as a boater versus when he fishes as a co-angler. Yet, prior to the last three Tour events that he’s fished as a co-angler, New has fished big tournaments from the front of the boat, which required a lot of shuffling of gear and reorganization. That might sound like a minor hitch, but it’s not to someone whose livelihood is on the line with every cast.

 

Chris Baumgardner has caught more than 12 pounds both days of the qualifying round.

On the water

In case you’re wondering what kind of angler Bryan New is on the water, you can get a good idea by watching Bryan Thrift. The two fish together often and have very similar high-speed, ultra-intense fishing styles. How fast? Ray Hanselman, the FLW Series star from Texas, drew New as a co-angler at a tournament last season, and commented that he’d never seen a co-angler so quick and able with the net. And New once said that he believes he actually fishes faster than Thrift, who might be the fastest guy on Tour.

Also, that compulsive need to be uber-organized … yeah, Thrift has that too.

“We came out of the same mold, I believe,” New says.

If he’s learned any skills from rolling with Thrift over the years, probably the most valuable skill he needs right now is the ability to close. Thrift doesn’t let many opportunities slip by him. When he’s in position to win, he wins.

New is in that position right now, and he recognizes what’s at stake.

“I don’t feel like I’ve got it won by any means,” New says. “There are a couple really good fishermen behind me. There are so many factors up there; so many bad things that could happen. But it would cap it [his co-angler career] off. I’m not a little kid anymore, and I’m ready to make the next step. So hopefully it will work out.”

Tags: bryan-new  curtis-niedermier  pre-tournament  2016-06-23-lake-champlain 

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