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

Backlash with Jordan Osborne

Backlash with Jordan Osborne

Editor’s note: An abbreviated version of this interview first appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of FLW Bass Fishing magazine. It is published in its entirety here.

 

What’s life like in Longview, Texas?

It’s good. When I’m not on the road fishing, I own a pawnshop and sporting goods store. Part of that sporting goods mix is largely made up of fishing tackle – basically fishing tackle and firearms. When I’m home, I try not to work any more than I have to, but I do spend a pretty good bit of time up there [at the store]. 

I actually don’t really fish a whole lot when I’m home. Maybe an occasional trip to [Lake of the] Pines or one of the little power plant lakes here. And I mix in golf. I find that I stay really busy. 

 

What’s the weirdest item ever brought in or sold at your store?

We had someone bring in a colonoscopy scope. I was like, What the hell? Where do I even begin with this thing?

We try to take anything that we can re-sell, but one of the processes that we go through when taking any piece of merchandise is we test it. I thought, How do I even make sure this thing works? What is it worth? Is there a market for it? It was really an odd situation. Not to mention, what was somebody doing with this thing? 

That’s been about 10 years ago. We did take it, and I believe we did sell it. I was gone that particular day we sold it, but I think the guy who bought it had a small practice that he was just starting up at the time. 

 

Would you ever host a reality TV pawnshop show?

No. Absolutely not. I don’t want any part of it. 

 

Is there any kind of show you’d like to host? 

I think it’d definitely be cool to do something fishing-related. That’s actually something I’ve thought a lot about. I’m not the best in front of a camera, so I think it’d need to be more reality-based about life on the Tour, kind of like what FLW did with Circuit Breaker, but maybe a little more raw; maybe a little more toeing the line of what may or may not be appropriate. There’s some crazy stuff we do out there on the road, especially the night before an off day.

I think the biggest misconception about what we do is that it’s all fun and games. People just don’t understand how much work goes into what we do. I don’t think they really check into the concept that we have to pay money to clock into this job with no guarantee of a paycheck. I wish there was something out there that illustrated that kind of thing a little better so people would have a little more respect for it as a career and a way to make a living. It’s not just fun and games, and if you are a competitor like I am, that’s what you feed off of and drive off of.

 

How weird was it to fish Sam Rayburn with the water so high this year?

It was definitely a strange event. At the same time, being from close to Lake of the Pines, it [high water] is something I’m very familiar with. Lake of the Pines, historically, has a tendency to rise very quickly like that; as much as 10 to 15 feet high. So it was something that didn’t really scare me at the time. I knew I was going to have to make some adjustments, but I was comfortable making those adjustments.

 

Jordan Osborne

As we saw at the Tour opener, Rayburn is ridiculously good. Did you grow up fishing there?

No, I’m two hours away from there, and you probably don’t know this but I’ve only been in the tournament game for six years. So growing up I had no tournament experience. I just grew up on the golf course fishing ponds, and that was about it. I’ve always fished, but I never fished reservoirs out of a bass boat. 

Once I got older and financially things got better, I decided I wanted to try my hand at bass fishing and tournament fishing, so I bought a boat and started in it. I did the club thing for a few years then did it [fished the Tour] as a co-angler. 

 

Did you mostly learn about bass fishing alone? Or did you have any mentors?

I really went at it by myself. Jim Tutt, being from Longview himself, helped me out some. We had a long ride back from Lake Eufaula the year I fished as a co-angler. I was maybe 17th in the standings, and Jim asked me, “What are you going to do if you finish in the top 10?” 

I said, “What are you talking about?” 

“You’re qualified to fish as a boater.” 

I said, “Yeah, I realize that, but I don’t know if one year after doing the co-angler thing that’d be a good idea. I was thinking after maybe two years.” 

He said, “But next year you might finish 13th and not qualify.”

That kind of got the wheels turning. I’ve always looked up to Jim for some guidance and knowledge. But, all in all, it’s mostly been me alone. He kind of helped talk me into it. 

 

Your first two seasons on the FLW Tour were a little rough, but last year you made the Cup, and this season you started off with a top-10 finish (Osborne is currently 22nd in the standings). What’s changed?

I’ve had that question asked a lot. I think it’s a little bit of everything. It’s a little bit of confidence. It’s a little bit of experience. It’s a little bit of learning how to take three days and be as efficient as you can with them in practice. 

During the tournaments I’ve found myself evolving as an angler. I feel like I have more confidence in the decisions I make, and I’ll make a lot more decisions than I used to. I used to get narrow-minded with my fishing, and I think I’ve gotten a little more open-minded. I’m in the zone, and I’m trusting my gut and don’t really question myself as much. 

I still continue to learn different techniques across the country, but I’m still very, very raw. I think the fact that I’ve not fished very long means I’m not stuck in my ways. I’m willing to learn and try something new. I think that’s played big for me. 

 

What did people think when you first told them you were going to try fishing professionally?

It was a mixed bag. When I went down to the local boat dealer and told him what I was wanting to do – I was trying to approach him for a team deal – you could tell he had been burned too many times. He told me more than likely you’re going to fail. I had that told to me by several people. 

I think people that knew me knew that it wasn’t going to be a one-and-done type thing for me. Because I’m so competitive, historically, anything I’ve picked up I’ve always stuck with until I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I lettered in basketball and tennis as well as golf and baseball in high school. When I pick up something new I don’t stop until I’ve reached my full potential, and I knew that’s what was going to happen with me in fishing. Those guys that told me I wasn’t going to do it, that was free motivation. 

 

So have you always been involved in some type of competition?

Yeah. I spent most of my youth playing baseball. We played on a traveling team. At times before high school when I was on that traveling team we would play as much as 110 to 120 games a year. We were all about it. 

I was eyeballing a career that would at least carry me through college playing baseball. It presented some opportunities when I got out of high school, but I had some arm problems. I had Tommy John surgery on my elbow my freshman year of high school and was never the same pitcher. I could play some other positions, but pitching was my main thing. I’m not going to say I lost my passion for it, but it kind of got away from me. I didn’t want to go play third base. I played one year in college. 

I also played golf in high school, which is not easy to do along with baseball. I played a lot of golf up until I started fishing. It was every other weekend I was traveling somewhere to play in a tournament. I got pretty much down to where I was a scratch golfer for quite a while. Definitelynot there now.

 

As a competitive golfer, do you see any parallels between tournament golf and tournament fishing?

There are a lot of things in a bass tournament that parallel golf. The biggest thing is the mental part of it. Golf is not just hitting the ball. It’s about the decisions you make and when you take that extra little bit of risk. Golf is all about risk versus reward. And I think fishing is the same way. 

 

Jordan Osborne

Are you a hunter, too?

I do quite a bit of bird hunting. I say quite a bit … when I can squeeze it in. I usually take two to three bird-hunting trips a year. Usually one dove-hunting trip, one quail-hunting trip, and one or two duck-hunting trips. 

 

Do you hunt any of the exotics roaming around Texas?

No, I don’t. If it’s anything other than hunting with a shotgun I just haven’t gotten into it. 

 

You fished the Cup as a co-angler back in 2015, but the 2018 event was your first as a pro. What was the experience like? 

It’s definitely not the same. The pros are the stars of the show, for sure. Not to say that they did not treat us co-anglers with first class, but it’s definitely a lot different. The level of respect you get just for making the Cup is pretty awesome. FLW gave us first-class treatment from start to finish. It was pretty awesome.

 

Considering you’re still learning, when you go to a fishery that’s completely different, like, say, Lake Champlain or Lake St. Clair, how long does it take you to adjust?

When you go to it for the first time, I don’t know that you can fully adjust to it, in my opinion. I pretty much find that it takes a second go-round before I finally start to settle into a body of water. 

The first time in it’s tough. Champlain [in 2016] would’ve been different had I been to a place like Oneida or Erie before I went there. The first time I went to Champlain was the first time I’d ever been to true smallmouth-type water. 

Now, after a few years, I’ve been to Champlain, Oneida and St. Clair. I really feel like any of those bodies of water up there, even if they’re new at this point, there’s a certain amount of comfort that I’d have going into that type of body of water. It’s sort of like going to Florida: They’re all a little different, but there are so many similarities at the same time. 

 

What should we expect to see from you the rest of 2019?

I hope more than anything we just see consistency. Everybody would love to win a tournament, and I think I’m on that pattern, when you look at my statistics and look at where I’m heading. I think we can expect a win at some point in my career. I don’t know if that’s this year, next year, or, you look at Terry Bolton, he’s had a great career, and it took him 20 years to get the first W at the Tour level. Who knows? I just want to be consistent. 

Tags: jordan-osborne  texas  bass-fishing  pawnshop  sam-rayburn  curtis-niedermier  article 

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