If there was a ladder that could lead you directly to the Bassmaster Classic stage in contention for the trophy, would you climb it? Of course you would!
For many bass anglers, the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation is that ladder.
Although some Federation Nation anglers strive to turn pro someday, others such as Tom Jessop, Brian Maloney, Joe Matt and Chuck Murray have succeeded at keeping a full-time job and qualifying multiple times for the Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter. These four amateur anglers offer the following tips on how to keep your day job and consistently go deep into the Federation Nation postseason.
Juggle your schedule.
Jessop, a member of the Texas B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, is a self-employed cattle buyer and runner who does some of his work on the evenings of the tournaments. “I do a lot of my business over the phone on-site,” said Jessop. “When I get done with a tournament, though, I am completely exhausted because I am trying to keep up with what is going on at work.”
Jessop will get to experience that exhaustion again next month during the 2011 Bassmaster Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter. There, he’ll compete against eight other anglers in his division for a spot in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River.
Like Jessop, New York B.A.S.S. Federation Nation member Joe Matt also has to plan ahead to allow for his part-time fishing career. As a funeral director, Matt can build up some comp time that he saves for Federation Nation postseason events. “I do have a little bit of a flexible schedule, but it is not as easy as it looks,” he said. “I put in tons and tons of hours when I am not fishing, especially in the wintertime when I cover the business pretty much 24/7.”
Gain family support.
“Having your wife’s support is the No. 1 thing,” said Matt. “I try to incorporate some of the tournaments such as the championship as a vacation for my family. It’s a nice reward for them. I will also go up ahead of time at the divisional and take one of my sons with me to practice.”
Serving as finance director for Franklin County, N.C., has allowed North Carolina B.A.S.S. Federation Nation member Chuck Murray to build up five weeks of vacation. “Four of those are spent fishing, and my wife is very supportive of this,” said Murray, who does work out a compromise with his vacation time. “One week I definitely have to spend at the beach.”
Murray won the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Eastern Regional/State Championship in spring 2011, qualifying him for the 2012 Bassmaster Federation Nation Southern Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter. That means at least one week of next year’s vacation will go toward competitive fishing, and if he does well there, he’ll need another week for the Federation Nation Championship. His wife may need to consider booking the family’s time at the beach now to block out that time on Murray’s calendar!
Do your homework.
After working as an AT&T design engineer by day, Brian Maloney spends his free time in the evenings searching the Internet, reading maps and consulting his diary to gather as much information as he can about his next tournament destination. “You can eliminate so much more by the time you get there,” said the Missouri B.A.S.S. Federation Nation member.
Maloney said he also avoids listening to dock talk and advice from local experts on what they would do. “That is what they would do,” he said. “My success in divisionals has been fishing my strengths and not getting wrapped up in having to throw this type of bait or work that type of area.”
Researching fisheries also gives Jessop a head start for his postseason practices. “I read a lot on anything that I can find out about a lake, its past history and tournaments and what part of the lake is usually best,” said Jessop.