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Reel Chat with CLARK WENDLANDT

Reel Chat with CLARK WENDLANDT
Clark Wendlandt finished 7th at Lake Champlain, which was enough to win the 2009 Land O Lakes Angler of the Year title.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we're joined by veteran Walmart FLW Tour pro Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas. With over $1.6 million in career earnings in FLW Outdoors events, Wendlandt, a Kellogg's pro, boasts an astonishing 33 top-10 finishes as well as three major FLW Tour victories, including two titles on Beaver Lake (1999 and 2001) and one on Lake Murray (2000). However, it is arguably Wendlandt's record-setting three FLW Tour Angler of the Year titles -- captured in 1997, 2000 and 2009 -- that truly set him apart.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Now, with his place in FLW Outdoors history firmly established, Wendlandt is ready to set his sights on doing battle at the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup, slated for July 30-Aug. 2 in Pittsburgh.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Today, Clark Wendlandt is here to take questions from you, the fans. So, without further delay, let's get started.

Q: What does it feel like to be FLW Tour Angler of the Year for a record third time?
-- Jon Stebbins (San Diego, Calif.)
A: It's both exciting and humbling. To win it the third time -- this was the hardest just because the competition was a lot stiffer than it used to be -- feels pretty good.

Q: Is AOY harder to win now than it was back in 2000?
-- Tony M. (Temple, Texas)
A: Yes, absolutely. Competition is stiffer, and there is a lot more information available to all anglers. It's a lot tougher to differentiate yourself. You have to be very versatile now, so that makes winning an AOY crown more difficult.

Q: Clark, congratulations on your recent Angler of the Year title. Now that you have three of them, which title means the most to you?
-- Tim Halverson (Boulder, Colo.)
A: I think the one in 2009 meant the most. The other two were in '97 and 2000. The competition is much stiffer these days, so this one is the sweetest one for me.

Q: What ever happened to your friend Ty Hester? That guy was a stick.
-- Mitch (Birmingham, Ala.)
A: Ty is a guy who practiced with me last year. He's a supergood fisherman, but he had to work a lot this year and wasn't Clark Wendlandt holds up his trophy after winning the 2009 Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year award.able to make as many tournaments as he would have liked. Basically, he's a good fisherman, and I think he'll be back next year.

Q: Who is the best young gun on the FLW Tour? Is it Bryan Thrift, Stetson Blaylock, Jason Christie or Michael Bennett?
-- David M. (Little Rock, Ark.)
A: To me, the youth of the sport is the most phenomenal thing in tournament fishing today. Stetson Blaylock really impresses me. He's really groomed himself for tournament fishing. He fished a lot of tournaments at a young age, entered tournaments as a co-angler, and he's just done really well. He's really impressed me. Another one is Michael Bennett. I think he's only 22 years old and has already won the Forrest Wood Cup. And that's very impressive as well. He just lives, eats and breathes tournament fishing. He's especially good at fishing and finding new water during a tournament. And to me, that's the sign of a really good angler. Bryan Thrift's overall finishes in tournaments are pretty impressive as well. I believe that tournament bass fishing is headed for a youth movement. You can really see the high school kids and college kids taking over this sport someday. And because of that, the older guys like myself, Larry Nixon and Jay Yelas are really going to have to stay on top of it to compete with them in the future.

Q: I know you prefer power-fishing, but are you going to downsize the line and lures and pick up a spinning rod in Pittsburgh?
-- Tom S. (Harrisburg, Pa.)
A: I think, absolutely I'm going to pick up a spinning rod there. Part of the reason I won Angler of the Year this year was because I picked up a spinning rod a few times. It's not something I really favor, but I think you can incorporate finesse techniques with power-fishing and have a chance to do well at the Cup.

Q: Clark, what do you think your chances are of winning the upcoming Forrest Wood Cup title?
-- Jon Pageler (New York, N.Y.)
A: I think my chances are pretty good. I like the way that I think it's going to fish. I haven't been there, but from everything I can tell, the conditions will be to my liking. For one thing, I think smallmouth bass will be the dominant species we're fishing for, and I like that. Even though I'm going to have to scale down my tackle to some extent, I think power-fishing will still be in play to some extent. The third thing is that, mentally, this is the toughest tournament to win. It's going to be tough fishing, and many guys could be mentally defeated before they even get there.

Q: I have had four top-10s out of 13 events at the BFL and Stren level, but a win keeps eluding me. What advice would you give to help me find that win and further my FLW career?
-- Billy Rusher (Stilwell, Okla.)
A: Wins are eluding me right now also. But in my opinion, if you're staying in the top 10 and continuing to fish hard, the wins will come. And if they don't, the Angler of the Year (awards) will come. Personally, I really think that consistency is very important.

Q: What is the best lure for fishing for bass in rivers?
-- Joe (Munhall, Pa.)
A: Most of the time in river systems, the two main baits that I'll favor are a small crankbait and a pitching/flipping presentation toward shallow wood or shallow grass. Generally speaking, I would downsize, just a little bit, my bait size in river systems and pay a lot of attention to current.

Q: What are a few factors that contributed to your consistency in tournaments?
-- Jeff (Barrington, Ill.)
A: I believe that I'm a consistent tournament angler because I'm able to take my practice and use that information to help me fish the tournament -- whether it be a pattern, bait or an area. I don't necessarily have to fish all the areas I've fished in practice. That's what I'm good at -- processing the information that I've learned in practice, knowing what's going to work and what's not going to work.

Q: How did you get started as a bass pro? And what advice would you give someone who is wanting to become one?
-- Jason Stacy (Ashland, Ky.)
A: I got started just by reading and watching fishing shows on TV. I loved to fish, first of all. I wound up hunting and fishing almost every weekend of my life. Also I'm an extremely competitive person. I like winning at everything. I don't necessarily hold a grudge when I lose, but I love to compete. The love of fishing and competition just really go together for me. As for advice, education Clark Wendlandt readies his boat Sunday morning for a 70-mile run down Lake Champlain.plays a pretty big role. I'd try to go through school as far as I could possibly go. Secondly, time on the water is a huge key. And when I say time on the water, I mean time on the water by yourself, because you need to be in a place where you're making your own decisions -- not somebody else making them for you. Thirdly, you need to fish tournaments at any level. Whether it's a competition in your own boat, team tournaments, a Stren level tournament, etc. But you have to start putting yourself in situations where you have to make important decisions on the water, because that's the only way you'll really get better as a tournament fisherman.

Q: Why do you always talk about ping-pong? Ping-pong is for non-athletes. What does that say about you?
-- Josh Z. (Fort Madison, Iowa)
A: First of all I'd say, "Whatever." I like playing ping-pong because it's a great game and I'm good at it. And I beat most people at it (laughs).

Q: When you fish with co-anglers, what is the biggest mistake they make? What pieces of advice would you give to co-anglers so they can be more successful?
-- Jeff (Barrington, Ill.)
A: The best co-anglers I fish with are the guys who don't try to compete with me in the tournament. They're fishing for fish that I'm not going to catch. The other key for co-anglers, one of the most important things, is to come with a good, positive attitude. You're out there to learn and not beat your partner. And if you look at it that way, you're pro partner will be more than willing to help you and make it easier to catch fish. When guys come with a good, positive attitude, there is nothing better -- for both the pros and the co-anglers.

Q: Does it bother the FLW Tour pros to have Ike in the Forrest Wood Cup?
-- Chris A. (Orlando, Fla.)
A: I believe Ike (Mike Iaconelli) is really good for the tournament because he's going to bring some extra exposure to the Cup that it might not have gotten otherwise. He's high-profile, he's a great fisherman, but I hope he loses (laughs).

Q: It sounds like the fishing is going to be quite difficult at the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup in Pittsburgh. So how do you go about trying to figure out the best fishing strategy for Three Rivers?
-- Titus Song (New York, N.Y.)
A: In my opinion, from what I know about it, limits are going to be a big key. I'm not looking to go out and catch the big bass of the tournament. I'm thinking about how I can put five 12-inch bass in the boat each day. And I believe that if you can catch five a day and figure out a pattern to do just that, the bigger-sized fish will come.

Q: Clark, in your opinion, is it tougher to compete on the FLW Tour now or when you first started fishing the tour back in the mid-'90s?
-- Jim Interlandi (Chicago, Ill.)
A: In my opinion, I think it's harder to compete now. I think there are a lot more talented fishermen able to seriously compete for a tournament title now than ever before. I believe you have to do a lot more as an angler to stay sharp and be on top of your game. To stay sharp these days, you have to keep up with the many new bait trends and techniques that are out there.

Q (MODERATOR): Clark, what's your impression on fishing the latest newfangled baits? Is it really important to make sure you constantly stay up to speed on the latest, greatest lure iterations? Or can you still compete at a high level, fishing a tried-and-true arsenal that worked, say, in the mid-'70s?
A: I believe it's a must to stay up with the latest tackle trends. But I also think you have to mold those baits into your fishing style. And what I mean by that is usually when a new bait comes out, I'll test it and see if it will fit my fishing style. And if it does, then it's something I'll put in my arsenal to use when the right situation comes along. If not, I'll just discard it. I think that it's this type of versatility that really defines good tournament fishermen today. One other thing that the new baits and tackle trends do is that it makes you keep searching and trying new things to keep you with a fresh outlook on things. I think the angler who goes out with the same equipment he had in the '70s will be at the bottom of the leaderboard in every tournament.

Q: What advice can you give me for fishing on the co-angler side of FLW and for attaining sponsorship? Congratulations on the third AOY!!
-- Todd Hayes (Scipio, Ind.)
A: As a co-angler, make sure you come with a positive attitude. You need to be willing to learn, and then your pro will be willing to help you in return. As far as sponsorships go, the economic climate today makes sponsorships very difficult to obtain. But that being said, presenting yourself well, speaking articulately and fishing well are three things that really help in obtaining a sponsorship.

- MODERATOR COMMENT -
Unfortunately, fishing fans, that's all the time we have to chat with Clark today. Thanks to all who tuned in and participated in today's Reel Chat. And a special thanks to Clark Wendlandt for giving us his time and insights into tournament fishing. Check back shortly for a complete transcript of today's FLW Live Reel Chat. Also, remember that FLWOutdoors.com is hosting another Reel Live Chat with recent Lake Champlain FLW Tour winner Scott Martin this Friday, July 24, at 2 p.m. Central time. You can start submitting questions for that shortly.

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