1. Where are you from, originally?
My dad was in the Army, so it's hard to pinpoint one place. I moved around a lot, but have spent the majority of my life in Louisiana and Arkansas. I guess it was nice because it afforded me the chance to fish a lot of different styles of lakes that those parts of the U.S. had to offer.
2. How did you get started in bass fishing?
Like so many other people, my dad got me into fishing. Growing up, I always bass fished first, and then crappie fished. My dad, brother and I would go on the weekends. I finally said that I didn't want to do other kinds of fishing except for bass fishing, and have been doing it ever since. I fished my first tournament when I was 12.
3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?
I remember watching Hank Parker on TV when I was growing up, and I always liked him more than Bill Dance. When I started following the tournament scene, it was right when Kevin VanDam was coming on strong as a young guy, so I've always been a VanDam fan. As I got older, I went to school with the late David Wharton's stepson, so he was the first bass pro that was "real" to me, if that makes any sense.
He was a real guy who I could talk to, so he became one of my fishing heroes. He was the man in East Texas on Rayburn and Toledo Bend.
4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry?
At one point, I thought I made it when I qualified for the Elites. That was a milestone. I fished the Opens to make the Elites, and when that happened, I thought I had done something. Now that I'm there, my goal is to make it a sustainable career. I'm not after a Classic or Angler of the Year title, just to make a living fishing.
5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?
I don't know exactly. I don't always have a scale handy. In practice, if there are other boats around it's not always convenient to weigh a big fish. I've seen some 10s weighed, and I've caught a few bigger than that. The biggest I've ever weighed in a tournament was a 9-12 I caught on Okeechobee.
6. What do you love most about bass fishing?
Definitely, the feeling you get when you've figured something out. Fishing is a problem solving activity. I like the competition and everything, but even when I lose, if I feel like I've been productive and learned something, I get a lot of satisfaction.
7. What is your greatest strength as a bass angler?
Honestly, it's hard to say because I'm still evolving as a fisherman. I wouldn't say I'm an expert at one thing. I have a lot of weaknesses. Nowadays, you have to be pretty versatile, so that's what I strive for — versatility.
8. What is your greatest weakness as a bass angler?
Lack of experience. That results in making poor decisions and bad timing. But, I rarely lose fish. I may not catch as many as the other guys, but I almost always capitalize when I do get a bite.
9. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why?
Realistically, there are two places I really enjoy fishing tournaments, the Red River and Lake Amistad. On the river, I know where they live, and I enjoy fishing that type of shallow, muddy water. Anyone enjoys a place they have success.
I feel like when I pull up there, I'm going to get paid. On Amistad, I've had decent success there in the past. I've been to all the south Texas lakes, but I like the versatility that Amistad offers. It's a great place for folks to learn because there are lots of ways to get bit. This allows me to focus on my weaknesses.
10. What's question do you get asked most by fans and how do you answer it?
Really, the No. 1 thing I get asked is "What are those things on the back of your boat?" referring to the Power Poles. Also, I get asked how to get sponsors. Everyone wants to know that, and it's different for everybody because no two people go about getting them the same way. You have to tell a sponsor what you can do for them rather than ask then what they can do for you.
11. What's the biggest mistake you see from casual anglers?
Hands down, it's that they don't pair their equipment properly to their lure. Having the right rod, reel, line and mechanics equate to a good hookup and landing percentage. The mechanics part is usually not setting the hook right or not playing the fish right. That's a big deal at this level. Our hookup to landing ratio is nine out of ten, when the average guy's may be six or seven out of ten.
12. Do you have any fishing superstitions?
I never get gas the morning of a tournament. It's not so much a superstition as it is that I freak out when I get gas on my hands before I fish. Maybe it bothers me more than the fish, but it's a pet peeve.
13. How big a part does luck play in fishing?
Luck has to do with catching big fish a lot of times. Granted, it can be seen as being in the right place at the right time, but that's a single instance. Multiple-day events eliminate a lot of the luck factor at the Elite level. They eliminate the randomness of fishing.
14. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the fishing industry?
I really don't have one at this point. For me, great accomplishments were making the Elites and the Classic. Making the Classic may not seem all that big for the veterans, but those were major goals in my life. I got to the Classic by being second in the Central Open points.
15. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your bass fishing career?
Like I said, my goal has never been to win the Classic. It's been to make a living off career winnings and sponsor deals. Right now, support is hard to find, so winnings are a large part of it. But I'd love to land a good non-endemic deal so I wouldn't have to rely on the fishing industry. I'd like to be able to focus in the offseason to become a better angler.
16. What keeps you motivated to reach those goals?
The fact that I've spent my entire life trying to get to this point. It's not happenstance. I've wanted to do this since I was young. If I give up what I've got now, then it would be like I've wasted 30 years of my life. It's not like I've got equity built up somewhere else. I have a college degree, though.
There are a lot of people who live vicariously through me through social networks, and I don't want to disappoint them.
17. What has been the greatest regret of your fishing career?
I'm known as a talker. A lot of people may not know how to take me, and there are misunderstandings. No one dislikes the guy who keeps his mouth shut, so I'm sure there are things in the past that have irritated people. They may have been perceived as cockiness or arrogance, but that's only because I'm honest and blunt when I talk to people.
18. When you're not bass fishing, how do you like to spend your time?
Bream and crappie fishing. That's what I do on vacation. They're fun to catch and it takes me back to my roots when I was a kid. I also like being on social networks and talking to people.
19. What profession (other than your own) would you like to have tried?
That's kind of funny because I've always wanted to do this since I was a kid. I've done graphic design before, but when I look back at that, it's not as much fun as fishing professionally. The repetition gets old, and I have a limited attention span.
20. When it's all over, how do you want people to remember you?
I want to be remembered as a guy who did it his own way. I do things differently than a lot of people, and that may have to do with my age. I want to be remembered as a guy who hustled off the water, but also fished well enough to get respect from his peers. At the Elite level, a lot of the sport is about respect.
Ultimately, I want to do this my whole life, and the only way to gain acceptance is through success on the water. Everyone's looking for his place in the industry.