UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Profile: Jeremy Lawyer

A year ago, Jeremy Lawyer endured a harsh reality as the door to a Forrest Wood Cup berth slammed shut on his runner-up finish at the BFL All-American on Kentucky/Barkley lakes. Flash-forward to June 11 and the boater from Sarcoxie, Mo., saw life come full circle with his All-American win on Barkley.

“Last year, I thought I watched it go away and I would never get the chance again,” Lawyer says. “To know that I’m going to go do something that I’ve dreamed about doing as long as I’ve been fishing is unbelievable.”

With his wife, Stacey, and 10-year-old daughter, Abbey, in the audience, Lawyer’s first FLW win was a tale of nailing the kickers.

“The absolute biggest thing was catching a big smallmouth late in the day on day one,” Lawyer explains. “That took me from like seventh place to having the lead by a pound and a half.

“Once I had that lead, I had this urgency inside of me that I did not want to give up that lead. If I had placed seventh, I probably would have just gone out there and fished, but that one fish gave me the motivation to pursue the win every day.”

Notably, the next two days saw Lawyer begin his effort with a 5-plus-pounder.

“Having that kicker as the first fish you put in your livewell, I knew I had the best bite I needed all day, so I just needed to catch something to go with it,” he says. “That was just something that drove me.”

Equally motivational was Abbey’s mandate.

“On day two, I was really more worried about disappointing my daughter than I was about not catching a fish,” Lawyer says. “She was really involved this year. She kind of learned the ropes last year, and this year she just flat out told me on day one: ‘Dad, you’re going to have to catch them tomorrow — I want to win!’

“I said, ‘Wait a minute; you’re going to be in the pool all day tomorrow.’ She said: ‘That’s all right. If you win, we win.’ So, between her encouragement and getting that big bite, that kept me pointed in the right direction.”

 

The meaning

Competitive anglers inherently experience ups and downs, but Lawyer admits the bridesmaid routine has worn on him. Winning the All-American, though, made the climb worth the effort.

“It was just an unbelievable experience,” Lawyer says. “Looking at all those times where I’d come so close to winning an event, everything just went right this time, and it just erased all those bad thoughts that haunted me for the last seven or eight years.

“When all of this came together and it all played out, it was just one of those deals where you just felt like nobody had anything on you. Everything was just erased.”

Vindication? Yeah, there’s probably a good dose of that in the mix. But knowing that he’ll soon stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the sport’s best brings a mix of pride and butterflies.

“I’m going to compete in the biggest tournament in the world, and the competition is going to be unbelievable,” says Lawyer. “To look over and see Denny Brauer and all these guys I’ve looked up to my whole life, that’s probably going to make my stomach turn a little bit.

“On the other hand, I’m absolutely going to have both eyes open as wide as I can and try to live the moment. Whether this happens 10 more times, or if this is the only time it happens, I can look back when I’m old and gray and say, ‘I did that, and it was awesome.’”

 

Meet the man

So, who is Jeremy Lawyer? In tournament circles, friends know him as a seasoned competitor in BFL Okie and Ozark divisions with 32 top-10 finishes, four All-American appearances and more than $250,000 in winnings since 2004.

As Sarcoxie’s City Administrator for the past 17 years, Lawyer oversees everything from park facilities to municipal water/sewage maintenance. When his former boss left, he took over a position he essentially learned by doing.

That’s kind of how his fishing career developed.

From trolling for white bass and crappie, to trotlining for catfish, Lawyer traces his angling roots to local pond hopping with his parents and grandparents. As an adult, he’s fished Grand Lake the most, but he calls Stockton Lake his home waters.

“When I show up on Stockton, I feel like I am completely in control of what I’m going to do that day,” Lawyer says. “I have so much past history there, I feel very in touch with that lake, and I have a lot of good memories on it.”

For example, that’s where a 12-year-old Lawyer fished his first tournament with his father.

“We really didn’t do any good, but I was fascinated by it,” he recalls.

Lawyer officially launched his competitive career at age 19, after his detailed advice helped a friend — BFL competitor Joe Wagner — win a local tournament. The thankful friend recruited Lawyer for Friday night jackpot tournaments and showed him the ropes of tournament fishing.

Early successes led to club-level fishing and, eventually, his BFL debut.

“Over the years, it has just evolved and evolved and evolved,” Lawyer says. “How it’s gotten to this point just doesn’t seem possible. But, really, it was Joe Wagner showing me what was out there and shoving me out there to bigger stuff.”

Lawyer first fished as a non-boater, but after a few sour experiences, he decided he couldn’t do any worse as a boater. Stepping to the front of the boat proved a good fit that paved the path to the biggest opportunity of his career.

 

Growing as an angler

Although his personal best, a 10-pound, 7-ounce toad, crushed an umbrella rig during a 2013 practice day on Table Rock, Lawyer is a die-hard shallow flipper with a fondness for big jigs and hefty trailers like a Zoom Brush Hog or a NetBait Paca Craw.

Although he prefers the run-and-gun style of flipping shallow, visible cover that serves him well on his Ozark lakes, Lawyer says he’s learning to love the deep stuff, too.

“Over the last four or five years, I’ve gotten more comfortable fishing offshore, targeting stuff I can’t see and relying on my electronics to be my eyes,” he says. “I’ve learned to have the confidence to know that those fish are there and I just need to figure out what makes them bite.”

 

Goin’ to the Big Show

The Forrest Wood Cup will mark Lawyer’s first Wheeler visit, but he already has a good idea of how he’ll approach this Tennessee River powerhouse. He’ll likely start his practice beating the bank and then exploring some less-trafficked areas for quality.

“I’ll try to find something to catch numbers of fish, and if I get a limit, I’ll try to go find something to catch a quality fish,” he says. “I don’t want to get wrapped up in trying to catch all quality fish and then have two fish at the end of the day that weigh 8 pounds.”

With the All-American win prompting his commitment to fishing the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour, Lawyer says a Cup victory would cement his financial picture.

“They’d have to carry me off on a stretcher,” Lawyer chuckles. “Mostly, it would mean that I’d be guaranteed several years in the sport.

“Right now, I have enough money to go do it one year, but I have debt and obligations to my family, so I can’t just go spend the money required to fish the Tour for the next two or three years. But if I won the Cup, that would guarantee me some more years in the sport to try and pursue it sponsor-wise.”

Winning the sport’s top prize would be one heck of a springboard for his rookie Tour season.

“I’m going to treat it like a lifelong bucket-list item and hope that it turns into more of a long-term career opportunity.”

 

Tags: bfl  all-american  forrest-wood-cup  wheeler-lake  david-a-brown  pre-tournament  2016-08-04-forrest-wood-cup 

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