UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Jay Kendrick Q&A

Jay Kendrick Q&A
Jay Kendrick (illustration by Rachel Idzerda)


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How do you go from being a nurse anesthetist to a professional angler?

Actually, I’m both. I’d say half my year is spent doing anesthesia, and the other half is spent fishing or doing things for sponsors. It’s a dual career, really, and each suits the other well.

 

They do?

Oh, yeah. I didn’t get into anesthesia by accident. I knew a long time ago that I was going to be a professional fisherman. So I needed a career that would allow me the freedom and financial wherewithal to do that. Anesthesia was it.

 

How long ago are we talking?

Over 30 years. I was probably 14 or 15.

I have this image of you in high school breaking down spreadsheets of potential careers instead of doing homework.

That’s not that far off. I did a lot of research, and I couldn’t find another profession that interested me, had the earning potential and had the freedom to work my schedule around fishing.

 

Ever regret that decision when you were taking those medical exams?

Not at all. It was a lot of schooling, but it’s paid off. Some think my road to being a pro fisherman has been easy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve scratched and clawed and had a dogged determination to stick with my plan. I’ll admit there was some frustration with how long it took, but I took the best road I knew of.

 

What can you take from an operating room that’s applicable to a fishing tournament?

Preparation. Before a patient comes into an operating room, I spend 15 minutes setting up my tools, the medicines. I don’t want to waste time. My boat is the same way. Everything is strategically positioned. This way if I need a spinnerbait, I know exactly where it is, how many I have available onboard, and in what weights and colors.

 

So, you dreamed your entire life of being a professional fisherman. What was that first tournament at the professional level like?

I don’t want to come off cocky or overconfident, but I don’t remember having that feeling like I’d made it or anything. I never doubted I would. It was just a matter of time. Just like I have no doubt I’ll win an FLW Tour event. It’s just a matter of time, though I think that’s close.

 

You certainly looked like you might win at Guntersville. You had the lead on the first day, but it kind of fell apart on day two. I have to ask, what happened?

I’d predetermined before the event I was solely going to fish for big fish. So I knew day two was going to make or break everything. I had a 3-pound lead, and if I got five big bites, I’d have a 10-pound lead. No one was going to catch me then. It just didn’t happen.

 

Have you second-guessed yourself since?

I haven’t, but I’ve had so many buddies call me up and say, “Why didn’t you just go to the grass, catch a limit and make the cut?” I told them I wasn’t concerned about making the cut. I was just focused on winning.

 

Was it because it was Guntersville – a lake you’d won on before – or do you always fish that way?

I used to fish more conservatively, but the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been willing to fish for the win. You don’t win fishing conservatively. Besides, I tell my buddies there’s not much difference in money between finishing fifth or 50th. So you might as well fish to win. There’s a big difference there.

 

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