UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Arning Carving Own Path With Trio of BFL Wins

Arning Carving Own Path With Trio of BFL Wins

Few things exemplify the father-son relationship like a day on the water, fishing rod in hand. For Ray Arning Jr. and his son, Aaron, that’s been the crux of their relationship for nearly 40 years, and it continues to this day, manifested in a dozen T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League tournament wins between the duo.

Ray, both a boater and a co-angler on the BFL circuit, has six career BFL tournament wins and 21 top-10 finishes from both the front and back of the boat. Aaron fishes BFLs exclusively as a co-angler and pulled even with his father in tournament wins (and one ahead in top-10 finishes) with a first-place finish as a co-angler at Lake Shelbyville on Sept. 23.

The younger Arning didn’t just pull even in BFL wins by chance, though. He’s been so dialed in this year that his win at Shelbyville was his third in a row in the Illini Division.

One might expect an angler with a three-tournament win streak under his belt to credit the success to technique or luck or some form of bass fishing prowess, but that’s not Aaron, nor is it his father.

“I’m going to start it off right now with my father,” Aaron says of his recent success. “I owe a lot of it to my father. My success just comes with kind of going fishing and putting a fishing pole in your hand and a bait that you trust in, and just go. Put your nose to the grindstone. It’s just old-school stuff.”

Old-school stuff, in fact, that Ray has been passing down to his now 42-year-old son since Aaron was just old enough to climb into a bass boat.

“I went bass fishing with him in a fiberglass boat when I was probably 3 years old,” Aaron says. “Just old enough to get in the boat.”

The duo has nearly identical recollection of those days, and Ray’s reminiscence highlights how much impact he’s had on his son’s passion – and skill – for fishing.

“I can remember when he was 3 years old, we went to Carlyle [Lake in Illinois] one day, and I caught about 20 bass. That was back when the lake was real young and good,” Ray says. “I never moved my boat, and every time I got a bass I handed Aaron the rod so he could bring them in. We’ve been fishing together ever since.”

Sharing tips, sharing time

Much of what Aaron knows about bass fishing came (and continues to come) from his father. Likewise, Ray never fails to pick up on a trick or two from his son. But more valuable than that – more than the exchange of ideas and techniques and baits – is the time the two share both on and off the water.

“We’ve quail hunted together since he was about 10 years old,” Ray says. “We deer hunt together. We’ve duck hunted together a ton. We’ve done a lot over the years together. He kind of thinks like I do a lot of times, but he’s made his own niche right now. That boy can catch a fish.”

Like father, like son.

Aaron describes his fishing style as “slow, easy, calm,” and each of his three consecutive tournament wins (and his sixth-place finish at Shelbyville in May) came as a result of that approach. He uses a 5-inch worm on a Texas rig nearly exclusively, always confident, always ready for the next bite.

Ask Ray what his fishing style is and you’ll get nearly the same answer.

“We’ve got one particular bait that I picked up on about four years ago that they don’t make anymore,” he says. “I’ve won on Kentucky Lake. I’ve won on Mark Twain Lake. I’ve won on Rend; just all around with that darned worm, sometimes as a co-angler behind boaters.”

But ask Ray if his teaching made Aaron what he is and you’ll get an answer you might expect from a father about his son.

“He’s just got a knack of catching fish,” he says. “He’s got his own ways of doing things. I’ve taught him what I know, and he’s been with me for 40 years. As far as competition … nah. I’m tickled to death when he does well.

“We get him around crappie and he’ll catch three-to-one to anybody else. I don’t care what you use. I don’t know what it is. He’ll beat me crappie fishing every day in the same boat together. He’s got some kind of knack and determination.”

What Ray has taught Aaron has created ripples far beyond what can be gleaned from their respective tournament histories. Aaron, having been around bass fishing since he began walking and talking, has also been able to pass along that same knowledge to others in his life, like longtime best friend and three-time BFL winner Brandon Depew.

“He’s my very best friend, and I taught him how to fish,” Aaron says. “He won the Regional the very next year after I won the Regional [in 2011]. We both live right close together. He didn’t know how to fish, and he started fishing with me and my father.”

With Ray’s own BFL regional win in 2003, that’s three total between father, son and son’s best friend, all learning, growing and evolving alongside one another.

 

The co-angler grind

Co-anglers don’t often get the same attention as their boater counterparts, but catching fish from the back of the boat is no easy task. Doing it consistently, with a multitude of boaters controlling most of the variables, is harder still. And winning a trio of tournaments in a row?

“I have never seen anyone win three in a row as a co-angler,” Ray says.

It’s the same sport on the same field of play, but winning consistently as a co-angler is akin to quarterbacking a new team every week and still passing for 400 yards. It’s being thrust into a situation in which you have very little control and still finding a way to catch more fish than the competition.

“It’s a mindset, being a co-angler, that’s different than being a boater,” Ray says. “You’ve got to look at the situation a little different being a co-angler. You only need a few bites. You need to stay mentally focused. You don’t have as much control.”

And yet, tournament in and tournament out, Aaron has found a way. Son credits father. Father credits son. But the truth probably lies somewhere in between, the result of a symbiotic relationship that has allowed the pair to realize their full potential as fishermen and enjoy every second of the journey.

Aaron has thought about moving to the front of the boat for BFLs as a boater, but a full-time union carpentry job limits the amount of time he can get away from work to fish. Instead of taking extra days to practice for tournaments, he opts for life as a co-angler, which doesn’t necessitate two or three days on the water before tournaments.

“The dedication of some of these boaters is way different from being a co-angler,” Aaron says. “If you’re just a good darned fisherman, you can win [as a co-angler].”

With a win last fall at Shelbyville, and three more BFL wins this year, Aaron is certainly proving that.

 

“The Arning Boys”

While Ray is admittedly “slowing down” and doing less tournament fishing, Aaron is clearly hitting his stride. The Walnut Hill, Ill., co-angler has won four of the last six regular-season Illini Division BFLs and finished in the top six in the other two tournaments.

For his BFL career, Aaron has amassed $59,461 in tournament winnings – the only category in which the younger Arning doesn’t hold the edge over his father ($85,476).

So while others can debate which man is the more accomplished, more talented fisherman, the numbers don’t really give the edge to either. That’s the way they like it.

“They call us ‘the Arning Boys,’” Aaron quips. “Everybody says, ‘Those Arning boys, they’ll come take your money.’”

That’s one statement for which the numbers really do tell the whole story – a story about a couple men who flat out know how to fish and love every minute spent together along the way.

 

Tags: justin-onslow  article 

Big Weights Expected at Santee Cooper

Big Weights Expected at Santee Cooper

The Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division finishes up its 2019 season at the Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, in South Carolina this week. Forty pros and co-anglers will qualify for the championship, and an Angler of the Year will be crowned as the field fishes for hefty postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

Latimer, Cobb Honored by Visit Anderson

Latimer, Cobb Honored by Visit Anderson

Latimer represents Green Pond Landing and Event Center (on Lake Hartwell) with logos on his boat and jersey, and, with Hartwell serving as Latimer’s home lake, he’s being honored with a press conference on April 22 at Green Pond Landing to celebrate his recent success. READ MORE »

Cup Bubble Boys with Two to Go

Cup Bubble Boys with Two to Go

The top 40 pros in the 2019 FLW Tour standings qualify to fish the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton Aug. 9-11. For about a dozen pros, the final two events of the season will decide whether they make it in or out. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Cherokee Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Cherokee Lake

Targeting spawning smallmouth bass was by far the dominant pattern when the FLW Tour visited Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee in April. With a few exceptions, the top 10 pros targeted various combinations of rock and gravel banks where the fish were bedding. Finesse baits such as shaky heads, Ned rigs and small swimbaits saw the most work. READ MORE »

Cherokee Has Been Good to Jason Bridwell

Cherokee Has Been Good to Jason Bridwell

Jason Bridwell fishes in the Volunteer Division of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League, and his track record on Cherokee, a lake at which he considers himself a local, is nearly spotless, especially after a win in the FLW Tour Marshal program contest. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Cherokee Lake

Top 10 Baits from Cherokee Lake

The smallmouth bass spawn was on at Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee when the FLW Tour came to town in April. Most of the top pros caught their fish on Ned rigs and shaky heads, as well as swimbaits and jigs. READ MORE »

It’s all Upshaw

It’s all Upshaw

As pretty much everyone figured, the final day of the FLW Tour event presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake was a nail-biter. Coming down to the wire, a final-hour cull from Andrew Upshaw was enough to hold off Grae Buck and earn the Tulsa, Okla., pro his first Tour win. Weighing 15 pounds, 6 ounces, Upshaw totaled up 67-10 to earn the $100,000 payday and his first trophy after eight years on Tour. READ MORE »

Upshaw Almost There

Upshaw Almost There

Andrew Upshaw is one day away from going wire-to-wire to secure his first-ever FLW Tour victory, and as long as the pressure and the nine pros behind him don’t knock him off course, the Tulsa, Okla., pro has a game plan to make it happen. READ MORE »

Upshaw Still Up at Cherokee

Upshaw Still Up at Cherokee

Day two of the FLW Tour presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake featured great fishing again and remarkable consistency from many of the leaders. Still on top, Andrew Upshaw weighed 17 pounds, 14 ounces of smallmouths to up his total to 36-4. In second, Dylan Hays dropped off the pace slightly and weighed 16-11 for a 34-8 total to lurk a bit less than 2 pounds behind Upshaw. Overall, 18 pros weighed more than 16 pounds on day two, and 28 pros have amassed totals over 30 pounds. READ MORE »

Upshaw Leads Packed Top 10

Upshaw Leads Packed Top 10

Day one of the FLW Tour presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake was a sure enough catchfest. Leading the way, Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Okla., weighed 18 pounds, 6 ounces to take the lead, but 13 other pros also weighed more than 16 pounds. READ MORE »

Lawyer Loads Up on Cover Cash at Grand Lake

Lawyer Loads Up on Cover Cash at Grand Lake

Jeremy Lawyer has become well acquainted with earning bonus money through contingency programs like LEER Cover Cash and Toyota Bonus Bucks. In fact, he just pocketed another $500 from Leer and $2,000 from Toyota for his first-place finish on Grand Lake. These two programs, among others, have been especially kind to Lawyer throughout his career. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Cherokee Lake

By the Numbers: Cherokee Lake

You can drive from the TVA Dam Boat Launch on Cherokee Lake to the Dayton Boat Dock on Lake Chickamauga – takeoff sites for the next two FLW Tour events – in less than two hours, yet the two eastern Tennessee fisheries are wildly different in a number of important ways.  READ MORE »

Nabe to Use Marshal Winnings for Leg Surgery

Nabe to Use Marshal Winnings for Leg Surgery

When you live a bass-fishing vagabond lifestyle, sleep in a van and have no bank account, every dollar counts out there on the tournament trail. That’s why Hiroyuki Watanabe – better known as Nabe – was very pleased to earn the $2,500 winner’s check for being the top-finishing marshal at the Grand Lake FLW Tour event last week. READ MORE »

How Buddy Rigs a Hollow Swimbait

How Buddy Rigs a Hollow Swimbait

Gross has been fishing hollow-body swimbaits for a long time, and for most of that time, he’s also cut the belly of those swimbaits to allow for better hook penetration. It’s a simple concept a lot of anglers either don’t think about or wouldn’t consider if they did think about it, due to durability concerns. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Grand Lake

AOY Update: Grand Lake

Terry Bolton is now more than halfway to his first FLW Tour Angler of the Year title after another top-30 cut at Grand Lake last weekend. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s four top-30 cuts in four events, including two top 10s and his first FLW Tour win. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Grand Lake

By the Numbers: Grand Lake

After prespawn slugfests on Sam Rayburn, Toho and Seminole, the FLW Tour heads a little further north for what should be another big-bag prespawn showdown. READ MORE »

Bolton’s Real Secret to Success

Bolton’s Real Secret to Success

Kentucky pro Terry Bolton nearly retired from fishing in 2018, but his wife, Dacy, whom he married in the fall, convinced him to stick with it and helped him remember why he loves to fish so much: for the fun of it. Now, he's won an FLW Tour event and is leading the Angler of the Year race. READ MORE »

FLW Magazine Spring Issue Shipping Now

FLW Magazine Spring Issue Shipping Now

The spring issue of the FLW Bass Fishing magazine is shipping now to subscribers. It comes complete with the best bass fishing tips, technique breakdowns, profiles and tournament coverage in the industry. Each quarterly issue includes gear reviews, tips and tricks from the pros, and full coverage of the FLW tournament scene. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Tournament champion Brent Butler ran different patterns nearly every day in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Chickamauga last week. The tournament, presented by T-H Marine, wasn’t quite the slugfest many expected it to be, but Butler’s 68-pound, 8-ounce three-day total was still an impressive showing. The rest of the top 10 got on a handful of patterns – some the same all three days and some changing from day to day – but all worked well enough to earn a top 10 and a paycheck. READ MORE »

Ostmann bags 54-12 for Co-angler Win

Ostmann bags 54-12 for Co-angler Win

Scott Ostmann’s last tournament on Chickamauga wasn’t what he knew he was capable of. He found out just what he could really do on Chick this week with a 54-12 three-day total in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event, presented by T-H Marine, and a huge dose of redemption on a lake that beat him up in 2017. READ MORE »