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Rookie Profile: Ron Nelson  

Rookie Profile: Ron Nelson  
Ron Nelson

This year’s rookie class of 34 pros is the largest ever for the FLW Tour. Among that group are some truly exceptional anglers. 

Yet, while plenty of the Tour’s new pros have impressive resumes, few boast records as well-rounded and superlative as Ron Nelson’s. After years of success at the Costa FLW Series level, it’s finally time to see what the Michigan angler can do against the best in the nation. 

 

The stats say he’s ready  

Nelson is as easygoing as they come, and he says he doesn’t look at the stats. Of course, that doesn’t make them any less impressive. 

Over the last two years, Bass Rankings has Nelson pegged as the 13th best Minor Level Boater. That puts him ahead of such luminaries as John Cox, Wes Logan, Bradford Beavers, Todd Castledine and Joe Uribe Jr. 

Mixing in Costa FLW Series stats makes his ranking even more impressive. Nelson has fished the Northern Division and Southeastern Division the last few years and has been steadily stupendous. In the Southeastern Division his worst AOY finish since 2015 is 15th. Up north, he’s never finished outside of the top 10 in AOY, and he’s banked three wins – on Smith Mountain Lake in 2013 and each of the last two years on Champlain. 

 

The timing is finally right 

Hailing from Berrien Springs, Mich., Nelson has watched some other notable “mitten state” anglers make it big over the years. Kevin and Jonathan VanDam aren’t from too far away. Scott Dobson has successfully hit the Tour, and Chad Pipkins has taken it national as well. Technically, Nelson, who owns a house painting business, first qualified for the Tour in 2013, so he’s taken his time to make the jump. 

“It’s a good question: Why now? Why not next year? Why not last year?” muses Nelson. “I’ve enjoyed fishing where I’ve been fishing for the last few years. It’s been great to me, to be able to manage my family life and run a business and go fishing. But I’ve qualified for the Tour every year, and I’ve thought about fishing it every year, you know, to stop playing around and do it.” 

Though Nelson hasn’t made his living fishing, he’d like to. Now, with a solid base of knowledge from around the country, he’s going to give it a shot. 

“I wanted something different,” says Nelson. “Fishing, in general, is about expanding your knowledge. It’s the never-ending quest for something new. Because as soon as you think you’ve got them figured out you don’t. I like fishing Lake Michigan and those New York-type waters, but they’re all fairly similar. They’re exciting, but they’re not new and exciting. I enjoyed fishing the Northern Division, but I really enjoyed the challenge of stepping out of the box and fishing those Southern reservoirs.” 

From the sound of it, Nelson feels fairly comfortable about the fishing, but he knows that the anglers making a living on Tour are of a different breed. 

“Fishing in the Costas, you do fish against a lot of the top Tour guys. So I’m not afraid to fish against anybody,” explains Nelson. “But, those guys put their time in, and I give them a lot of credit for making their living fishing. It’s not really a guaranteed job; it’s a different type of job. That’s what’s always kept me from fishing the Tour. I’m not knocking the guys who jump on and fish the Tour young as not being responsible, but I wanted to cover my bases first and not be in a rush to jump into it.” 

 

Hitting the road 

Fishing two divisions of the Costa FLW Series represents some significant travel, but hitting the road for seven Tour events and perhaps the FLW Cup is a bigger dose than ever before. That means Nelson is going to be juggling life at home and life on the road even more. 

At home, Nelson’s wife, Karla Aldecoa, runs a salon, so they’re not going on the road as a family. 

“My wife comes first,” says Nelson. “To be on the road is hard. If there’s snow on the ground and she’s out in extreme elements and I’m down in the sunny South, that’s hard on her.” 

Nelson’s painting business will also take a hit, though that’s something he’s used to managing with fishing, especially considering the summertime schedule of the Northern Division. 

“You learn your business and your peak season, and my peak season is the exterior season,” says Nelson. “I live five minutes from Lake Michigan, and there are a lot of Chicago people that live on the lake, and those multi-million-dollar homes are our target. We work six days a week in the summertime and keep busy, and by this time of the year [winter] you’re burned out. The first year I won Champlain I almost didn’t go fish, because I was walking away from peak season to do it.” 

Luckily, Nelson is going on the road with an experienced crew. He’s planning on rooming with Buddy Gross and Bryan Thrift, which shockingly makes him the least accomplished of the bunch. 

 

What about goals? 

Nelson rarely focuses on specific goals in the short term. He values flexibility and the open-mindedness to capitalize on opportunities he’s presented. That shows on the water, too. When he won on Champlain in 2017, for instance, he swapped up his strategy daily, fishing basically whatever the wind gave him. 

Long term, he is setting goals. Undeniably, the No. 1 goal is to be a pro angler, but he’s got high hopes for 2019 as well. 

“I think for a lot of people who are in the fishing industry at my age and younger, we’ve always watched professional fishing and thought, ‘I’d like to do that.’ But it’s never as good as it looks,” says Nelson. “It looks so glamorous, but it’s really damn tough. I’d love to be a full-time touring pro making my living that way, but ultimately it will come down to learning the business side of it. I don’t know the sponsorship dollars really, but there are not many guys that rely on self-pay and winnings. I don’t think you can sustain that long term. 

“The main thing is to stay focused on each individual event. Show up to it, give it your best, try to be open-minded and try to have the nerve to go for it,” he adds. “You can’t think about how much it costs in entry fees. You’ve just got to fish. I’d love to be Rookie of the Year. I’d love to be Angler of the Year. I’d love a shot at the Cup. You kinda want a shot at all of it. You don’t want to mentally sell yourself short. I really look forward to fishing, and hopefully getting some momentum going. Now I’ve got to just put my head down, say my prayers and catch ’em.” 

Tags: flw-tour  -ron-nelson  -bass-fishing  -professional-fishing  jody-white  jody-white-  article 

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