UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

10 Questions with Joel Willert

10 Questions with Joel Willert
Joel Willert

In just his first season as a co-angler on the FLW Tour, Joel Willert of Prior Lake, Minn., has found himself on a roll. He’s cashed checks in five out of the six events so far, won back-to-back tournaments at Lake Cumberland and Smith Lake, and now has his sights set on a strong finish and a chance at claiming the Co-angler of the Year title (he’s currently third in the standings behind Gary Haraguchi and Johnny Douglas).

We wanted to learn a little more about the rookie co-angler who has had a remarkable season thus far, so we fired 10 questions his way.

 

1. This is your first season as a co-angler on the FLW Tour. Before jumping into the national tournament scene, what were you doing?

I was in the military [full time] for three years and did two tours in Iraq. Then, when I got out of active duty, I joined the National Guard and worked for a construction company. I was in the military for nine years total. I’ve been saving up for this moment, and now I’m finally going all-in on tournament fishing.  

 

2. How’d you get started fishing in general?

I grew up in northern Wisconsin, so fishing has always been something I’ve done since I was a young kid. In high school, I had a buddy whose dad was a tournament fisherman, so that’s how I got introduced to the tournament scene. I started fishing local tournaments with my buddy, and we won our first tournament and from there fell in love with it.

I kind of got out of fishing when I joined the military since I didn’t really have time, but once I got out of the military I moved to Madison (Wis.) and started fishing again. I bought a boat and would go watch weigh-ins at local tournaments, and it really got me fired up to get back into tournaments.  

 

3. You’ve been on an absolute roll this year, including winning back-to-back Tour events. Have you treated yourself with your winnings?

I did. I bought a new truck and a new camper for the bed of my truck. I figure that if I qualify to fish the Tour as a pro I’m trying to set myself up to be ready, and trying to set myself up for the future. I already have a boat, so a new truck and camper will make life easier now, and it will be a huge help if I get a chance to fish from the front of the boat next season since I could be paying for most of it out of my own pocket.

 

4. You currently sit third in the Co-angler of the Year race. The final at St. Clair is just a few weeks away. How much have you thought about winning the COY title?

My goal at the beginning of the season was to cash a check in every event. I figured if I did that I could top 10 in COY points to qualify as a pro. I really want to be in the front of the boat. Winning COY would be awesome, but going pro is my ultimate goal. Still, I’d like to have a good, strong finish at St. Clair, and if I won COY, that’d be even sweeter.

 

5. What made 2018 the season to step up and fish the Tour as a co-angler?

Going into this year I had the money saved up to fish, or at least enough to get me through this year. I really needed to cash a check in every tournament in order to keep my hope of fishing from the front alive, and I’m pretty happy with how that has gone.

It seemed like the best time because every lake on the schedule I had never been to before. I have been able to learn so much at each event, whether it’s about the lake or a certain technique. So now if I go back to that lake I have a better idea of what goes on or how the lake sets up.

 

6. There seems to be a growing trend of both pros and cos from the North showing out in major tournaments. What about the North makes it a great place to hone your skills?

Everyone talks about Alabama for diversity of fisheries around it, but up here we have that too. You can catch smallmouths in deep, clear lakes one minute and go to a muddy, shallow lake where you can flip milfoil the next. Our fisheries are so diverse.

Plus, the tactics I use up here I use basically all over the South. The confidence baits up here still catch fish all over the country. So, when I went to Lanier and Smith, nothing surprised me too much, and that’s probably why I did as well as I did.

 

7. What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about trying out fishing as a co-angler at any level?

I always try to practice because there is a big advantage to being on the water for a few days before the event and getting confidence in whatever bait may be hot on a certain lake. I’d recommend bringing a wide variety of baits, too. I usually don’t ask the pros what we’re going to be doing. I’ll get an idea of what I think we are going to do based on who the pro is or the fishery we are on. From there, pay a lot of attention to the pro and where he’s casting. Throw something different, somewhere different. If the pro is throwing a shaky head, I’m probably not going to throw the same thing. Change it up, and give fish a different look.

Oh, and respect the pro’s water. I know what they have on the line, and I wouldn’t want someone doing that [casting into the pro’s water] to me.

 

8. Has there been a certain day so far this season where you’ve had the most fun on the water?

That’s a tough one because I really have had fun with everyone I’ve been paired with. I’ve also learned a ton every day, and that’s fun. But I guess if I had to pick I’d say day one at the Harris Chain with Bill McDonald was pretty cool. We caught a ton of fish.

 

9. What pro would you love to spend the day with on a lake of your choice?

I’d really like to go out to California with Cody Meyer and try to catch a 10-pound spot. That’s definitely on my bucket list.

 

10. OK, last question. You travel a lot. Do you have a favorite snack on the road?

Casey’s pizza. It’s so good. If there’s a Casey’s gas station nearby and I could use a little gas, I’m stopping.  

Tags: kyle-wood  article 

Daniel Fennel to Direct Pro Circuit

Daniel Fennel to Direct Pro Circuit

At the registration meeting for this week’s Pro Circuit season opener at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, FLW announced that Daniel had been promoted to senior director of tournament operations for the Pro Circuit, FLW Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League, with responsibilities to include directing the Pro Circuit. Bill Taylor, who served as tournament director for the FLW Tour from 2001 through 2019, has been promoted to senior director of operations, where he’ll lend his expertise acquired through more than two decades as a tournament director toward logistics, angler relations and event planning for all FLW circuits. READ MORE »

The Weather Factor: Rayburn

The Weather Factor: Rayburn

Weather is a storyline in almost every tournament throughout the course of the year, but from winter through spring it can often be the biggest influencing factor in a tournament. Warming trends and cold snaps can send fish flooding to the bank or retreating to the safety of deeper water in no time. READ MORE »

2020 Pro Circuit Predictions

2020 Pro Circuit Predictions

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit is at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, this week to kick off what promises to be another great season of professional bass fishing for FLW. In anticipation of great things to come during the inaugural Pro Circuit season, a few FLW staff members and one Pro Circuit pro decided to play pundit and make a few predictions.  READ MORE »

John Cox Making Most of Opportunities

John Cox Making Most of Opportunities

In addition to finishing second in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit standings last season, John Cox finished runner-up in the Bassmaster Central Open standings and fourth in the Eastern Open standings, qualifying him to fish the Pro Circuit and Bassmaster Elite Series this year. While many pros were faced with some either-or decisions this offseason, Cox chose both – fishing the Pro Circuit and Elite Series – and he’s not even a bit nervous about doing both. READ MORE »

Tackle Warehouse Teams with FLW

Tackle Warehouse Teams with FLW

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today that it has reached a sponsorship agreement with Tackle Warehouse, the sport’s leading online retailer that offers the guaranteed lowest prices on bass fishing tackle from every top brand. Effective immediately, Tackle Warehouse becomes the official tackle retailer of FLW and assumes title sponsorship of the FLW Pro Circuit, professional bass fishing’s premier five-fish-limit tournament series. READ MORE »

Rookie Profile: Laramy Strickland

Rookie Profile: Laramy Strickland

Being a rookie on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit can be daunting no matter what age you are. This year, there are 28 newcomers eager to prove themselves against some of the best in the game. And while the bulk of them have been chasing the dream for a while, 22-year-old Laramy Strickland of Bushnell, Fla., will be one of the younger pros looking to make a name in the industry. READ MORE »

How to Prep Like a Pro

How to Prep Like a Pro

When it comes to getting ready for a season of tournaments, there are plenty of ways to do it. But, there’s no denying that for most people, being prepared will lead to better performance on the water. READ MORE »

Previewing the 2020 Pro Circuit

Previewing the 2020 Pro Circuit

With the kickoff of the 2020 FLW Pro Circuit coming up January 23 on Sam Rayburn, we've put together previews of every stop of the regular season. Below you'll find an overload of information on the fisheries, prospective patterns and anglers to watch throughout every minute of the season.  READ MORE »

2020 Cherokee Lake Preview

2020 Cherokee Lake Preview

Built in the 1940s by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Cherokee Lake is nestled in the hills of east Tennessee. The Holston River impoundment lies roughly between Norris Lake to the northwest and Douglas Lake to the southeast. The clear waters of Cherokee can fluctuate about 30 feet between winter pool and spring flooding, which sounds like a lot, but isn’t out of the ordinary for the average east Tennessee reservoir. So, depending on the water level, Cherokee has about 400 miles of shoreline and 28,780 surface acres. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Martin Preview

2020 Lake Martin Preview

Lake Martin was created back in 1926 when the Martin Dam was completed on the Tallapoosa River. At the time, the 44,000-acre reservoir was the largest man-made body of water in the world, though it obviously no longer holds that distinction. READ MORE »

Silver Carp Found In Chickamauga

Silver Carp Found In Chickamauga

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources received a report on Jan. 10 that a silver carp was captured on Chickamauga Lake in October. READ MORE »

2020 Sam Rayburn Preview

2020 Sam Rayburn Preview

Sam Rayburn has a reputation as a phenomenal bass fishery and a giant in the tournament world. At more than 114,000 acres, it’s the largest reservoir contained entirely within the borders of the Lone Star State. READ MORE »

The Importance of Having a Mentor

The Importance of Having a Mentor

If you want a chance to have a pro as your personal coach and mentor for 2020, keep reading. READ MORE »

Florida Spawn: Key on Bottom Hardness

Florida Spawn: Key on Bottom Hardness

According to FLW Pro Circuit angler Tim Frederick, who’s lived in Florida since he was 4 years old, one of the most important factors for successfully locating both spawning and staging bass in the coming weeks is bottom hardness. In most situations, the harder the bottom the better, but there’s more to it than that. READ MORE »

Check-In Time: Matt Becker

Check-In Time: Matt Becker

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Matt Becker.  READ MORE »

FLW Series Championship Returns to Cumberland

FLW Series Championship Returns to Cumberland

FLW (Fishing League Worldwide), in conjunction with the Somerset Tourist & Convention Commission and the Burnside Tourism Commission, announced today that the 2020 FLW Series Championship will be held at Lake Cumberland in Burnside and Somerset, Kentucky, Nov. 5-7, 2020. READ MORE »

FLW PHOENIX BONUS Announced for 2020

FLW PHOENIX BONUS Announced for 2020

Phoenix Boats has announced the creation and details of the brand new FLW PHOENIX BONUS for the 2020 FLW tournament season. READ MORE »

The Top 19 Stories of 2019

The Top 19 Stories of 2019

From the beginning, 2019 was a good year of fishing. The FLW Tour got off to a rollicking start on Sam Rayburn, and it really stayed pretty great from there, with a lot of good fishing and a killer Angler of the Year race. Beyond the Tour, all the other circuits had plenty of highlights, too. We saw impressive feats accomplished at all levels and some very exciting individual events. READ MORE »

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade - Part 2

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade - Part 2

From start to finish, the last decade was a wild ride for fishing. The top stories are amazingly diverse, with huge business changes, some incredible tournament feats, and entirely new techniques and lures taking center stage. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 6 Airs Tuesday

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 6 Airs Tuesday

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 6 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »