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

Tour Rookies: Joe Thompson

Tour Rookies: Joe Thompson
Joe Thompson

Joe Thompson had the vision since his youth. He fixed his sights on the dream, charted the course, took his lumps and achievements with equal value, and readied himself for the moment of his dreams.

When that moment arrived this fall with a priority invitation to fish the 2018 FLW Tour, the 27-year-old Clayton, Ga., native seized the opportunity with a double-fisted grip.

“I was the kid that always wanted to be a professional fisherman,” Thompson says. “Everybody else wanted to be a vet or a firefighter, and I wanted to be a professional fisherman.

“I always said if I ever had the chance I was going to take it. It’s not going to be easy, but I think I can compete.”

 

Steady growth

Thompson has competed in FLW tournaments since his days at Young Harris College and has amassed 11 top-10 finishes in FLW College Fishing, T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League and Costa FLW Series competition as a boater and co-angler. In 2017, he finished seventh as a pro in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Chickamauga and took second as a co-angler in the Central Division’s Kentucky Lake event.

He claimed his lone FLW victory in 2016 while fishing as a co-angler in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division tournament at 1000 Islands.

Now, a Southern boy fishing a Northern event isn’t unheard of, but winning – that’s rare. Thompson traces his smallmouth acumen to family vacations in northwestern Ontario where he’d stop counting the number of big bronzebacks he’d caught when he go to 40.

He’s also very comfortable fishing deep spotted bass patterns in his home lakes of Burton and Chatuge, as well as Lanier and Hartwell – both an easy day trip.

“I may as well be considered from the northern part of the country because that’s similar to our local fishing,” Thompson says. “We don’t have any grass, and, generally speaking, shallow is 10 feet.

“We also don’t have any bushes to flip, although that’s what I love to do in other lakes. My deal is I’ll go fish for a big bite or two or three, but I’m not afraid at all to pick up a spinning rod. I’ll always have one or two on deck even if my game plan doesn’t involve that.”

 

2014 College Fishing Lake Keowee Mar 06 -  08 - FURMAN (JOE) THOMPSON

Collegiate cornerstone

En route to earning a biology degree from Young Harris in 2014, Thompson experienced an angling education that stretched his boundaries far beyond northern Georgia’s deep, clear fisheries.

“That was what really opened my eyes,” he says. “Up until college, I had never travelled out to different lakes, like grass lakes. We don’t have any grass to speak of in our local lakes, but College Fishing took me down to Florida, Santee Cooper and Pickwick.

“That really broadened my skill set. I was pretty well rounded even before I started fishing the Costa FLW Series. At first, fishing grass lakes threw me for a loop, but I can do it now.”

After college, Thompson went to work for his father’s construction company, while also earning his real estate license. The steady paycheck and flexible schedule have facilitated his tournament fishing, but all that’s about to change.

 

Joseph Thompson

The course ahead

“I’m sinking my life savings into this because I’m short on sponsors, but I got my chance and I’m taking it,” Thompson says. “I’m putting everything on hold to go fishing.”

Thompson’s aware of the reality he’s facing, but he’s convinced of two things: 1) The opportunity justifies the challenge, and 2) the timing is right for this ambitious move.

“If I’m going to do it, I’ll have to do it before I have kids and get married and have a home to take care of,” he says. “It’s a benefit because I have a lot less to worry about at home.

“Also, I have a family that supports me. They’re already planning trips to Florida [for the Lake Okeechobee and Harris Chain events], and especially when we come to Lanier. The weigh-ins are going to be about an hour from where I live.”

Thompson knows that Tour fishing will be more demanding than anything he’s faced, with no room for errors. His top priority: eliminating mental mistakes – like the ones that likely denied him a divisional points title.

“I should’ve won the Southeastern Division [AOY], but I lost three fish – one each tournament – any one of which would have given me the winning points total,” says Thompson, who wound up finishing third in the points. “All three of those losses were my fault. I missed them with the net, or I tried to swing them in the boat and they came off; little stuff like that.”

 

Furman (Joe) Thompson

Stepping up

Sizing up the 2018 FLW Tour schedule, Thompson says his only question marks are Smith Lake and Lake Cumberland, simply because he’s never fished either (though both line up nicely with his skill set). He’s looking forward to opening with two Florida events, Lanier is old hat, Kentucky Lake is familiar and St. Clair will offer the smallmouth game he enjoys.

Overall, Thompson says he’s planning to give his rookie season its due respect, but he’s not going to overthink it.

“It’s a pretty simple thing to me; I haven’t been stumped yet in the Costa FLW Series,” Thompson says. “As long as I can fish clean, even if I’ve had a bad practice, I’ll have something going on tournament day. If I can get them in the boat, I believe I can finish well in every tournament.”

His goals include the same one all first-year pros have, but Thompson is dreaming bigger.

“I honestly believe I can win the Rookie of the Year,” he says. “That’s a start; that’s a big deal. But I want to win Rookie of the Year and Angler of the Year. I believe in setting your goals high.”

Tags: david-a-brown  angler-features 

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Curt Warren knew what he wanted to do, and it had nothing to do with weeding through a bunch of small fish up shallow. Rather, he focused his attention on deeper Grand Lake spots with chunk rock and brush and amassed a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 caught their fish and earned their checks on Grand. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

A cold front moving in at the start of Grand Lake’s fall transition put a damper on seeing a bunch of big weights during the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, but plenty of pros managed to find the right fish to make things exciting on the final day. READ MORE »

Meador Repeats Co-Angler Win on Grand

Meador Repeats Co-Angler Win on Grand

Defending his title as co-angler winner in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, was impressive enough, but the way Steven Meador did it was truly remarkable. After earning the 2018 win on Grand by 3 pounds, 6 ounces, the Bentonville, Ark., co-angler repeated the victory with a three-day total of 27-15 for a much slimmer winning margin this time around – just 10 ounces. READ MORE »

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Curt Warren was a paragon of consistency over three days at Grand Lake, and the result was a victory in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Warren turned in limits of 14-5 on day one and 16-9 on day two, but it was his day-three limit of 15-9 that was the most impressive – no other pro even cracked the 13-pound mark battling the tough post-frontal conditions Grand had to offer on day three. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

When conditions changed, Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas completely scrapped his day-one pattern, caught a limit that weighed 13-11 and took over the lead of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event, presented by T-H Marine, with a two-day total of 32-14. Here’s what the rest of the top five was up to on day two. READ MORE »

Bird Moves Ahead on Grand

Bird Moves Ahead on Grand

After his sizzling day-one pattern fizzled, Cody Bird adjusted his focus to a completely different scenario and sacked up a limit of 13-11 on day two to take over the lead in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, with a two day total of 32-14. Going into Saturday’s final round, Bird holds a 7-ounce lead over day-one leader and Grand Lake stick Jason Christie. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., leveraged his intimate understanding of Grand Lake’s tendencies to catch a five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces to take the lead on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event Presented by T-H Marine. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

Christie Blasts 22-10 on Grand

Christie Blasts 22-10 on Grand

Oklahoma stick Jason Christie overcame the unsettling effects of a passing cold front to sack up a five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces for the day one lead in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

After several weeks of hot, sunny conditions, anglers launched with cloudy skies, stout winds and air temperatures in the low 60s. By midday, the temperature rose into the mid to upper 60s and the wind started to subside, however, the first couple of hours saw Grand Lake’s temperamental side. READ MORE »

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Fall is a time of change and movement; two notions bound to impact the outcome of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Typical fall migrations are underway, but an approaching cold front will likely complicate the already challenging nature of autumn’s transition. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

Top 10 Patterns from the Cal Delta

The Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta featured all the typical Delta tactics. Punching, vibrating jigs, finesse and even a frog made an appearance in the top 10. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Cal Delta

Top 10 Baits from the Cal Delta

The Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta had a lot of punching as usual, but it was far from the only thing going. Due to the lush grass and windy and touch conditions, vibrating jigs and finesse played a big role as well. READ MORE »

Farage Earns Fourth Co-Angler Win

Farage Earns Fourth Co-Angler Win

Weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta, Jack Farage totaled 37-2 to edge ahead of Cesar Laguna for the co-angler win. The win is Farage's fourth as a co-angler at the FLW Series level and he took home a brand new Ranger boat because of it.  READ MORE »

Wire-to-Wire for Dyer

Wire-to-Wire for Dyer

Blake Dyer set the pace on day one with a 27-pound, 3-ounce bag and he never relinquished the lead in the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. Weighing 15-8 on the final day, Dyer totaled 62-13 to stay ahead of a final-day charge from Jason Borofka. For his win, which is his first with FLW, Dyer takes home $31,114 and a trophy that will last forever. READ MORE »

Cal Delta Midday Update – Day 3

Cal Delta Midday Update – Day 3

Tournament fishing is full of highs and lows and today, the latter may play a key role in determining the outcome of the Costa FLW Series Western Division event resented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. Specifically, several anglers expressed their hopes of doing their best work during the afternoon low tide period. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from the Cal Delta – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from the Cal Delta – Day 2

Blake Dyer has dominated through two days of the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the Cal Delta. With a total nearing 50 pounds, he’s also one of just two pros to bring in back-to-back 20-pound limits. However, that doesn’t mean the rest of the crew hasn’t been doing work, and with the big fish in the Delta, anything is possible on the final day. READ MORE »

Dyer Weighs 20+ Again

Dyer Weighs 20+ Again

Backing up his monster 27-pound, 3-ounce bag from day one, Blake Dyer added 20-2 to for a 47-5 total to pad his lead in the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. In second, Austin Wilson also managed to break the 20-pound barrier again and moved up from fifth place with a 21-14 bag and a total of 42 pounds. READ MORE »

Cal Delta Midday Update – Day 2

Cal Delta Midday Update – Day 2

A cold front moving through the area greeted anglers with cloudy, windy conditions for the day two takeoff at the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Power-Pole on the California Delta. Daybreak temperatures in the low 60s rose to the mid-70s by noon — about 20 degrees cooler than day one. By midday, the classic post-frontal “bluebird” conditions had set into the area. READ MORE »