UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Reel Chat with GEORGE COCHRAN

Reel Chat with GEORGE COCHRAN
George Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark., hoists the $500,000 winner's check at the 2005 Forrest L. Wood Championship at Lake Hamilton.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Hello, FLW fishing fans. Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat, the latest interactive feature on FLWOutdoors.com. Joining us today is George Cochran, winner of the 2005 FLW Championship and $500,000 in prize money - one of the largest awards in bass-fishing history. With over $1.7 million in career earnings on the FLW and Bassmaster tours, Cochran also boasts six top-10 finishes in FLW Tour events, a 1996 FLW Tour win on Kentucky Lake, two Classic wins (1987 and 1996) as well as a fourth-place finish in this year's Classic.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Throughout the next 40 minutes or so, George Cochran is here to chat about life on tour, his vast fishing experience or just about anything else you might want to ask him. So fire away, fishing fans. George looks forward to hearing from you.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Editor's Note: FLWOutdoors.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Reel Chat discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts.

Q (MODERATOR): George, just to get things rolling, I'd like to ask you to describe the experience of winning this year's FLW Championship. What did it mean to you both personally and professionally?
A: Number one, it was probably the most exciting, happiest victory I've ever had in my fishing career. For starters, it was at home. I won the tournament within sight of my house. My family was there and all of my friends were able to watch it. If I had an advantage, it was because everyone was there cheering me on. And that's what made it so special. The money wasn't too bad either. I never dreamed about how much money that was until I went to the bank. Everyone in the bank wanted to have that picture with me depositing that check. And that's when it hit me. That was my retirement check. But winning at home definitely made it special.

Q (MODERATOR): Did you feel a lot of pressure trying to win that tournament on your home waters? Because in the past, it's clear that the pressure was perhaps too intense for some other competitors fishing on their home waters in championships past, both on the BASS and FLW tournament trails.
A: I'm glad you asked that. When they announced that the FLW Championship was going to be on Lake Hamilton, I said, "Oh no." I've lived here 15 years but hadn't fished that lake in about eight years. Really, heading into Lake Hamilton, I just hoped I didn't get embarrassed. There were a lot of Arkansas locals who spent weeks putting out brush piles. I knew the lake real well but didn't put any cover out. I really came into this tournament with an open mind. If you remember, I beat my first-day competitor by only 1 ounce, so I was still figuring things out early on. The next competitor I beat by less than a pound. By the third day, I started figuring things out. I was catching all of my fish on the banks. On the last day, I figured out exactly what type of banks were really going to work. On that day, I went to a spot that I remembered from a while back. I used to fish there with my son, but I had forgotten about it until that Friday. Then it came to me ... eight years later.

Q: Congrats on your FLW Championship win, Mr. G. Cochran. Are you fishing FLW next year exclusively because you have nothing else to prove on BASS? I have met you several times over the years, and I fished with you on Chickamauga. Hope to see ya soon! God bless and great health.
-- Lee W. Ashe Jr. (Edgewater , FL)
A: I looked at both circuits. BASS is going to more tournaments, and I decided I wanted to fish the FLW Tour because I like the way they run their tournaments, and they offer more money. I'm 55 years old, and I'm getting close to the end of my career, and I want to be very choosy about the tournament trails I fish. I've won more money fishing the FLW Tour this year than any 10 years of my career put together.

Q: Before a launch, what ground rules do you set with your co-angler?
-- Carter (San Diego, CA)
A: What I like to do with my co-anglers is explain to them exactly the type of area I'm fishing and the type of lures I'm using. I'll always offer to my co-anglers to share any lures they'd like. The only thing you really have to worry about is your co-angler throwing over the pro water, and mostly that happens because they're too excited. But 99 percent of my co-anglers have been excellent. I'll also try to help them as much as I can. If I'm throwing one lure, I'll try to help them out with another lure. I also don't take up every area I can. I really try to leave something for my co-anglers, because if they do well, everybody's happy. And if they do well, that means a lot to me.

Q: Are you superstitious when you are in a tournament? If your answer is yes, what are some of your superstitions?
-- Mel (Maple Grove, MN)
A: I am not superstitious on the water, but very superstitious off the water. I will not go down a road that a black cat ran across. My mother was real superstitious, and she made me that way. I'm superstitious about breaking glass. What else? I can remember several times in the car with my mother and a black cat would run across the road, and we'd turn around and go the other way. It used to freak me out, and eventually I started doing it too. My wife's favorite number is 13, but for me, I stay away from anything with the number 13. I always tell them in a tournament, I'll take any boat number but not 13.

Q: Please tell us what it felt like to have so many people watching you just a few feet away from your boat on the last day of the recent tournament.
-- Roger (Wrightstown, PA)
A: The best way I can put it, earlier in my career, eight to 10 years ago, I wasn't comfortable with it. But the last few years, with camera crews everywhere, I've gotten so much more focused and have been able to block everything out. But the FLW Championship, once I thought I had the championship won, I really enjoyed it immensely. I was really able to enjoy the moment. I was waving to the people, joking with them and really at ease. That one time I let loose without being completely focused.

Q: How do you prefish a lake before a tournament?
-- Sam (Madison, WI)
A: I try and break a lake down into three areas. The reason I do that is because different times of year, different sections of a lake are better than others. Usually when I break a lake down, I concentrate on the season. That way I can eliminate parts of the lake right there. Then I concentrate on the cover and look for cover that I like. I'll look for cover where I KNOW fish are going to live. After you find the cover you like to fish, you have to narrow your choices down to one or two lures that are working good. All of the tournaments I've done well in, I've only used two different poles. A lot of people will take eight rods on their deck, but they waste a lot of time changing poles, re-rigging, etc. Most of the times when I win a tournament, I'll have it narrowed down to one primary lure.

Q: George, during the hottest part of the summer, with water temperatures above 85 degrees, what would be the best cover to fish for shallow bass -- less than 5 feet -- in tidal rivers?
-- Don (Perryville, MD)
A: There are two kinds of cover bass like to be in at that time: shallow-water wood, stumps or lay-downs; and grass, like milfoil, weeds or coon tails. The reason why is because wood has algae growing on it, which attracts baitfish. Grass always has some baitfish as well. During this time, I really like to use shallow-running crankbaits.

Q: If you could fish any lake in the United States, what would it be?
-- Rick McHale (Bucksport, ME)
A: Gosh, there are so many places I love to fish. There are so many good lakes across the country. It would really be hard for me to choose one lake. But I'll give you a couple. Lake Champlain in New York, Guntersville in Alabama, Lake Okeechobee in Florida. There are so many good lakes, though; it's hard to choose, and I feel like I've just about fished them all. I mostly chose those three because I have fond memories there.

Q: Do you ever test lures for manufacturers before they are sold to the general public? If yes, what do you look for in a new lure?
-- Merri (New Town, PA)
A: Believe it or not, this is one of the things I count as a hobby. I've been working for Strike King lure company for 25 years, and I've probably introduced or invented 30 or 40 different lures that they sell. One of the most recent ones I worked on was the Quad spinnerbait. In the first year, we sold over 150,000 of them. Then there is the Series Four crankbait and Series One crankbait. And I'm real proud of those accomplishments. It's definitely one of my favorite hobbies. When I'm not fishing, I'm always tinkering with new lures.

Q: I am 16 years old and want to pursue a career in professional bass fishing. I have one tournament win under my belt. What advice could you give me on completing my dream?
-- Evan Gaskin (Eva, TN)
A: One of the most important things you first need to do is to get a good education. The reason why is that I never started a professional career until I was 30 years old. I'm 55 now. And not a day goes by that I've ever been unhappy with that decision. There's nothing wrong with waiting until your mid-20s to turn pro. You will need that education to deal with the business end of fishing on many occassions. I'm 55 years old and just won the biggest tournament in bass fishing, so there is no hurry. I'm proof of that.

Q: What lures do you prefer when you are fishing for bass?
-- Garrett (Penacook, NH)
A: I'm going to narrow it down to three: shallow-water crankbaits, plastic lures/worms and top-waters. Those are my three favorite lures to use.

Q: George, great job getting it done. My question is, was there a time or times where you knew you had the ability to be the best but, with all the knowledge you had, you couldn't put the fish in the boat to get it done? What are the ways you got over this?
-- Chad (Cornelius , NC)
A: The best way to answer that is age. When you've been fishing for 35 years, you get a lot of confidence. But I think in the last few years, I've developed more confidence than ever before. My kids are grown, I have nothing to worry about at home and I'm completely focused on the tournament scene. I might not be able to cast as good, see as good or run around as hard as I used to, but I'm a lot smarter now. I'm using my head more and my skills more. And that makes a big difference. But when I was younger, I was always in a hurry. I had the skills for casting, how to work my lures, how to find the fish, but I wasn't patient. I didn't take my time to work it out. If the fish didn't bite in an hour, I'd run off to somewhere else. But as I got older, I got more patient. You slow down, fish the right areas and use your head more. I started noticing that I was doing better and better and better the more patient I became.

Q: How does next year's FLW Tour schedule fit your style of fishing? Which tournaments are you particularly looking forward to?
-- Nick Hamra (Chesterfield, MO)
A: All of the lakes are very good fisheries, especially with the time of year we're going to those lakes. And when you get to be 55 years old, I'm looking forward to the challenge of every lake. I've been to every lake we're going to. And I'm looking forward to the schedule. But, to answer the question, I'm really looking forward to fishing Beaver Lake in early April. Last year I think I finally figured something out, and I'm really excited to give it a try when we head down there.

Q: George, after 25 years of fishing, what do you do with all the tackle you accumulate?
-- Bill (Charlottesville, VA)
A: I usually give them to charity or the Boys Club. You know, a lot of the pros have rooms where they store stuff, but I've never been that way. Well, I guess a couple of years I was a pack rat. But you'd be surprised how much joy it brings the kids when they get those lures and tackle. It makes me feel really good, so I just keep on doing it.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Unfortunately, that's all the time we have today. George Cochran wanted to thank the fans again for coming out and participating in his chat. He wishes everyone the best.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Tune in for the next FLW Live Reel Chat, scheduled to take place later this month. You can bet we'll have another compelling pro on deck to answer all of your questions.

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