UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

40 Years and Counting

40 Years and Counting

Most anglers would love to have Larry Nixon’s career stats. Most people would love to have his seemingly boundless supply of enthusiasm, that genuine “happy to be here” attitude fronted by a friendly smile and backed by a well-founded confidence that keeps competitors on their toes.

“It’s the love of the great outdoors,” Nixon says of his perpetual motivation. “I just love trying to fool God’s creatures and find ’em. It’s something that I take personally when I do well, and that’s why I enjoy it so much.”

The 2017 FLW Tour season will be Nixon’s 20th, and he’s celebrating his 40th anniversary in professional tournament fishing this month. Nixon began his career with B.A.S.S. in January 1977.

Despite having open-heart surgery last August, Nixon says he’s not only ready for the new year, but he’s chomping at the bit.

“I think this is going to be a great Tour. We’re going to some great lakes,” Nixon says. “There’s a little bit of driving distance between some of them, but I think fishing’s going to be really good.”

The pro from Bee Branch, Ark., says he’s especially keen on the Tour opener at Lake Guntersville and Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes, as both venues offer plenty of the shallow grass-oriented fishing he favors. Guntersville, in particular, should be prime for his strategic shallow-water presentation: a Texas-rigged 5-inch Yamamoto Senko.

“It’s that time of year when the fish could be moving in really shallow and getting around that grass,” Nixon says. “They get pounded pretty hard, and they get hard to catch, so that’s always a good way to catch them when they’re tough.

“If they’re active and aggressive, I think it’s going to be a Rat-L-Trap tournament. You’re going to have to cover a lot of water and find some little key places where you can get three or four good fish.”

 

The Dependables

Across the schedule, Nixon says he’s ready for all he’ll face this year thanks to his old-school lure selection. Not one for fads, he chooses tried-and-true options over latest-and-greatest tackle any day.

“Never forget the jig. Never forget a spinnerbait, a jerkbait. Always have the proper crankbait for the type of water you’re going to, and don’t forget the Senko,” Nixon says. “These five lures are effective at any lake in the United States.

“I do look at new lures and make sure I have them in my arsenal in case I need them, but I’m pretty much old school. I fish by my strength and with lures I have a lot of confidence in. So I’m not big on trying new baits until I’ve seen that they’re effective and why they are effective at a certain time.”

Throughout his career, this lineup has yielded undeniable results. In FLW competition, Nixon has notched 27 top-10 finishes with four wins and 15 Forrest Wood Cup qualifications, and his FLW earnings topped $1.74 million.

Add to that a 1983 Bassmaster Classic win, two B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year titles and four B.A.S.S. Mega Bucks crowns, and the man they call “The General” has left a big footprint on the competitive bass fishing scene.

 

Larry Nixon

Recharging the Batteries

Notwithstanding his competitive drive, Nixon acknowledges the cumulative wear and tear from 40 years of fishing. Offseason deer hunting in Arkansas and Kansas and duck hunting in Kentucky prove mentally and physically therapeutic.

“As soon as that last Tour event is over, I go hunting for five months solid,” says the 66-year-old angler. “You definitely need to clear your mind and get started for a new year. I think it’s important for a person to be on the water occasionally during the offseason, but I don’t do it hardly at all anymore because of my age.

“I try to save all my joints and fingers for the next Tour because the wear and tear after 40 years of tournament competition is pretty rough on the body. I definitely do better by laying off, and then I’m fired up.”

Aside from his current post-surgery rehab, Nixon says he has no traditional exercise regimen to which he can attribute his longevity in the sport. However, anyone who duck hunts knows the arduous effort required to reach the sweet spots. For Nixon, it’s a mile and three-quarters in and the same trip out, all across profoundly inhospitable terrain.

“You have logs, you have laydowns, you’re wading through water,” he say with a chuckle. “It’s pretty rough walking. It’s not for the faint of heart. I feel good and not out of breath when I walk. That’s all you can do, get your endurance up and build the muscles.”

 

Larry Nixon

What’s left?

Ask Nixon about fishing against fellow Tour pros less than half his age and he’ll tell you that, despite his mutual respect for other competitors, he’s not concerned.

“The guy that catches the biggest weight wins, and I can’t worry about what other people catch because I can’t do the things that the kids can do anymore,” he says. “Mine is more of a mental game, fishing my strengths and finding the kind of fish I can compete with. That’s the most important thing: to find the fish that suit my style of fishing. I’m not competing against the other guys. I’m competing against the fish.”

With a resume like Nixon’s, a guy literally has nothing to prove. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing he wants.

“I’ve never given up trying to win the Cup,” Nixon says. “I’ve had a great career, but I still want to win it. That’s something I’ve always had my sights set on.”

Nixon failed to qualify for the Cup in 2016. Watching in person as more than a dozen other anglers hoisted the trophy he so badly wanted stung every time, but not having a chance last season hurt worse. That’s his motivation.

“My goal for 2017 is to have a good finish and make it to the Cup. You gotta be there to win it.”

Tags: david-a-brown  angler-features 

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