UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

Eric Jackson Q&A

Eric Jackson Q&A

Tennessee pro Eric Jackson is a rookie on the Walmart FLW Tour but is no stranger to elite-level competition. He’s a former International Canoe Federation (ICF) Freestyle World Champion in freestyle kayaking. Jackson has paddled all over the world and is the patriarch of a family of extreme outdoor enthusiasts. He’s also the owner of Jackson Kayak, which manufactures crafts for a variety of on-the-water activities.

We caught up with Jackson just prior to his Tour debut on Lake Okeechobee to learn more about his background in the outdoors and how he got started in tournament fishing.

 

How’d you get started kayaking?

My dad, James Jackson, got me started when I was six years old. He and I were invited by the test pilots at Piper Aircraft in 1970 to head out on some whitewater rapids with them. We were in a Grumman canoe but eventually purchased two kayaks in 1979. The next year we made a mold and made more than 100 kayaks in our basement for our club. We were hooked on the sport. 

 

What is freestyle kayaking, and how did you become the world champion?  

Four-time world champion whitewater kayaker Eric Jackson enjoy's training in Rock Island, Tenn.

Think freestyle skiing, snowboarding or MX (motor cross). It is doing tricks on waves or in holes. I have always been naturally inclined and extremely addicted to freestyle and extreme racing in kayaks. It suited my personality, and I won my first World Championship with bloody hands from the skin being rubbed off of them from over-training in 1993 (he won the Senior Division freestyle kayaking competitions in 1993, 2001, 2005 and 2007). I really just loved the challenge of trying to do new things in a kayak that nobody has ever done.

That challenge got me thinking about new techniques, training methods, traveling more to remote destinations and creating my own kayaks with new features. I was able to dominate and win every major international event for a decade … before my kids grew up and started winning. I am most proud of teaching my kids (Emily, 25, and Dane, 22, both with multiple world titles) the skills and the freethinking methods that allowed them to become the reigning World Champions.

 

What got you interested in bass fishing? Have you always fished?   

My dad moved us to Lakeland, Fla., in 1974. I was 10. With no whitewater rapids around, we both began bass fishing in the phosphate pits around town. Bill Johnson’s Pro Bass Shops was my local dealer, and they had weekly and monthly tournaments. I always competed in those simple “big bass of the month” or “big crappie of the month” competitions. I won a lot of gear and became hooked.

I decided by the age of 12 that I wanted to be a professional bass fisherman. When I was 15, my family and I moved to New Hampshire where I started whitewater kayaking again. With no more bass fishing mentors around, only whitewater kayakers, I decided I wanted to go to the Olympics for Kayaking instead.    

 

Last year you fished as a co-angler on Tour. What made you decide to transition to boater this season?

My reasoning to be a co-angler last year was to “scope out the scene.” I wanted to meet the fishermen, FLW staff and sponsors to see if this was a circus I wanted to travel with. I was very impressed with the FLW staff. Bill Taylor (senior director of tournament operations) and Al Chapman (director of advertising) were my main contacts, and they always took good care of me. The fishermen were an above-board, hard-working and fun group. I made new friends among the pros and was fired up on the idea of spending more time with them. Of course, the real reason for wanting to be a pro fisherman is that I really want to be a pro fisherman. My childhood dream coming true in 2016 at age 51. I am still competing in whitewater kayaking, but my first priority will be fishing. 

 

Aside from the fishing platform being used, what are some of the major differences between bass fishing from a kayak and from a bass boat, and how have you adjusted?

Kayak fishing is a little closer to the water, quieter, slower but can be extremely effective. I personally feel that kayaks should be used to get you to where power boats can’t go. I am a big fan of fishing rivers that are too shallow, too rocky and have rapids, all of which mean less pressure, fewer people and more fish.

Jackson Kayak made fishing from a kayak much closer to fishing from a Ranger boat, for example, by making our kayaks stand-able. Standing and fishing is easier to see and cast and really was a game-changer for fishing kayaks. It is something we are very proud of at Jackson Kayak. 

 

Last year you wrote a blog for FLWFishing.com about introducing new people to kayak fishing. You mentioned that you introduced some fellow FLW Tour anglers to it. What was their reaction?

Eric Jackson with a nice bass on the line in his Big Rig Jackson Kayak.

I was very lucky on my draws in 2015, getting to fish with some of the biggest names in professional fishing: Jimmy Houston, Scott Canterbury, Wesley Strader and Bill McDonald. And I met champions like Brad Knight and more. Each of these guys was so fired up to get a kayak for his local “skinny water.” I have had the luxury of taking Scott, Wesley and Brad out on my home waters during the off-season, and they were like kids in a candy store.

 

What are your bass fishing strengths/weaknesses? 

My strengths are my athleticism, motivation and desire to be a student of the game. I am very good at casting accurately and can put the lure where I want it over and over again quickly.

My weakness would be my struggle to slow down. When the bass want it slow, I want to catch one going fast first to locate them and then, maybe, I’ll slow it down.

My other main weakness is big lakes. I have fished for bass for 40 years but always in small bodies of water where I can locate them easily. Of course, that doesn’t mean I will make any excuses. I am here to win like everyone else, and if I don’t, well, then somebody else was a better fisherman on that day.

 

What lakes do you think you’ll do well on this year on Tour?

All of them, of course, as my optimism is something I couldn’t curb if I tried. However, if you were to bet money on what lakes I will finish the best on, I would bet on the last two (Kentucky Lake and Lake Champlain). I need to get my feet wet and learn the ropes of fishing against the best fishermen in the world before I can expect good results.

 

What are your goals for the season

There you go again – trying to make me look presumptuous. Here they are, in priority order:

1. Have lots of fun.

2. Be thankful I get to have so much fun.

3. Learn as much as I can about competing well in this venue.

4. Make new friends.

5. Be Rookie of the Year.

 

Tags: eric-jackson  flw  angler-features 

Lake Hartwell Set to Host Toyota FLW Series Tournament

Lake Hartwell Set to Host Toyota FLW Series Tournament

SENECA, S.C. – The 2020 Toyota Series will continue its season next week at Lake Hartwell, March 3-5, with the Toyota Series at Lake Hartwell tournament. Hosted by Visit Oconee, the three-day tournament will feature the best regional bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to... READ MORE »

Elberton’s Partain Earns Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Hartwell

Elberton’s Partain Earns Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Hartwell

LAVONIA, Ga. (Feb. 24, 2020) – Boater Kerry Partain of Elberton, Georgia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 5 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Hartwell in Lavonia. For his victory, Partain earned $5,336... READ MORE »

Local Rookie Strickland Wins Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

Local Rookie Strickland Wins Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

LEESBURG, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2020) – Pro Laramy Strickland of Bushnell, Florida, brought five bass to the scale weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces, to win the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers Sunday. Strickland’s three-day total of 15 bass totaling 61 pounds, 4 ounces gave him the... READ MORE »

Local pro Strickland Catches Mega Limit, Takes Lead at Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

Local pro Strickland Catches Mega Limit, Takes Lead at Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

LEESBURG, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2020) – Local pro angler Laramy Strickland of Bushnell, Florida, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 31 pounds, 6 ounces, to vault to the top of the leaderboard at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers. His two-day total of 10... READ MORE »

Day Two of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers Postponed Due to High Winds

Day Two of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers Postponed Due to High Winds

LEESBURG, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2020) – Day Two of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers has been canceled due to inclement weather. With a lake wind advisory in effect from 10 a.m. ET until later this evening, conditions on the lake were deemed unsafe by Daniel Fennel... READ MORE »

California’s Salewske Leads Day One of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

California’s Salewske Leads Day One of Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers

LEESBURG, Fla. – Pro Rusty Salewske of Alpine, California, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Thursday weighing 26 pounds, 10 ounces, to jump out to the early lead after Day One of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Bad Boy Mowers. Pro Miles Burghoff of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee... READ MORE »

Registration Now Open for 2020 Wiley X High School Fishing Camp presented by Tackle Warehouse

Registration Now Open for 2020 Wiley X High School Fishing Camp presented by Tackle Warehouse

BENTON, Ky. (Feb. 20, 2020) – FLW announced today that registration is now open for the third annual Wiley X High School Fishing Camp presented by Tackle Warehouse, scheduled for July 22-24, on the Murray State University campus in Murray, Kentucky... READ MORE »

Wiley X Named Official Sunglass Provider of FLW

Wiley X Named Official Sunglass Provider of FLW

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BENTON, Ky. (Feb. 19, 2020) – FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Wiley X, one of the most trusted brands in the world for safety eyewear, high-performance sunglasses, and optical/protective sports... READ MORE »

Toyota Series Set To Visit Lake Chickamauga for Central Division Opener

Toyota Series Set To Visit Lake Chickamauga for Central Division Opener

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DAYTON, Tenn. – The 2020 Toyota Series will open the Central Division with a tournament next week at Lake Chickamauga, Feb. 27-29, with the Toyota Series at Lake Chickamauga. Hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic and Tourism Council, the three-day... READ MORE »

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

To say Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Tim Frederick loves fishing in Florida would be an understatement. The Leesburg local and fifth-year Pro Circuit veteran calls the Harris Chain of Lakes home, and his only FLW win came just a bit farther south on Okeechobee in 2018. After a 22nd-place finish in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River last week, Frederick has fully turned his attention to his home bodies of water. READ MORE »

Harris Chain of Lakes Readies for 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance

Harris Chain of Lakes Readies for 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: LEESBURG, Fla. – The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit anglers fishing in Leesburg this week won’t be the only anglers enjoying the big bass factory that is the Harris Chain of Lakes. The best college fishing teams from across the country are also making their way to the Harris... READ MORE »

Fayetteville’s Guyot Earns Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake Murray

Fayetteville’s Guyot Earns Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake Murray

PROSPERITY, S.C. – Boater Scott Guyot of Fayetteville, North Carolina, brought five bass to the scale Saturday totaling 23 pounds, 8 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Murray in Prosperity, South Carolina. For his victory, Guyot earned a total of $4,359... READ MORE »

Cullman’s Flack Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lewis Smith Lake

Cullman’s Flack Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lewis Smith Lake

CULLMAN, Ala. – Local boater Jackie Flack of Cullman, Alabama, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lewis Smith Lake in Cullman. For his victory, Flack earned a total of $6,011... READ MORE »

Village Mills’ Sharp Catches Record-Breaking 40-Pound Limit, Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Sam Rayburn

Village Mills’ Sharp Catches Record-Breaking 40-Pound Limit, Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Sam Rayburn

BROOKELAND, Texas – Boater Anthony Sharp of Village Mills, Texas, had a day Saturday that most bass fishing tournament anglers only dream about. Sharp brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 40 pounds, 6 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Sam Rayburn... READ MORE »

Belleview’s Trevor Fitzgerald Wins Toyota Series Tournament on St. Johns River

Belleview’s Trevor Fitzgerald Wins Toyota Series Tournament on St. Johns River

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: PALATKA, Fla. – Pro Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Florida, brought a 19-pound, 8-ounce limit to the weigh-in scale Saturday to reclaim the top spot on the leaderboard and win the three-day Toyota Series at the St. Johns River. Fitzgerald’s three-day total of 15 bass... READ MORE »

Bartlett Gets Revenge on the St. Johns

Bartlett Gets Revenge on the St. Johns

Edwin Bartlett fished the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on the St. Johns River in January, an event at which he fished as a boater and blanked after pre-practicing for five days. Today, he got his revenge. READ MORE »

St. Johns River Midday Update – Day 3

St. Johns River Midday Update – Day 3

Day two of the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River brought more fish, bigger fish and eight bags over 20 pounds – a marked improvement over what we saw on day one. Day three could go either direction, though, as a small cold front overnight left behind bluebird skies and abundant sunshine today. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 2

It’s been a question of when, not if: When is the first big wave of spawners going to move up on the St. Johns River? That question may have been answered on day two of the Toyota Series Southern Division opener, as more and more anglers brought big fish across the weigh-in stage, with many of the bass coming from beds or shallow cover where fish are staging to make their big move. READ MORE »

St. Johns River Midday Update – Day 2

St. Johns River Midday Update – Day 2

After a warm but windy day to start the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River, day two brought lower temperatures, rain and a shifting wind that blew right up the chute early this morning. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Johns River – Day 1

The St. Johns River is fishing tough, and while weights were down across the board on day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division opener, the top five found a way to get the job done with some impressive stringers of big Florida bass. READ MORE »