For the past eight years, Jared Lintner has been consistent. Sometimes bad, sometimes great, but more often than not, consistent. Beginning with the final two events of the 2013 Elite Series season, though, he’s been on fire. Since luck often runs out after a day or two, one is led to believe that Lintner has invested in some sort of wholesale change, right? Wrong. There’s just one difference: He’s having fun.
“I’ve been pretty consistent over the years, but these past three years have been especially up and down,” the California pro said. “I had been chasing dock talk and what ‘should’ be working by reading tournament results online or in the paper. Then I’d go and chase those things, and it just wasn’t working.”
The lack of measureable success was beginning to wear on Lintner. He was away from his family, missing baseball games, school performances and the like and really wasn’t having any fun.
“I’m supposed to be out here living my dream, but I was getting my tail kicked and not really enjoying myself. I figured that if I had to be away from my family I was going to at least make the best of it.”
He made that resolution late last summer, just before the final two events of the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series season. The ensuing results? Two checks resulting from 32nd and 27th place finishes. Since the 2014 season has begun, Lintner hasn’t finished worse than 18th, stroking a check in every event so far. And he’s having a ball to boot.
“You know, at the end of last year I was watching The Bassmasters on TV and watching those guys in LaCrosse on the Mississippi River flipping, frogging and power fishing shallow. That’s my kind of fishing!” he said. “But I listened to the dock talk and went after what I thought I should be doing, which was fishing out deep. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but that really ate me up watching those guys catch ’em how I like. I’m not saying I would have fared better if I had fished my strengths, but I know I wouldn’t have done any worse and I would’ve enjoyed it more.”
Heading into the second-to-last event, Lintner cut himself off from tournament reports and dock talk. He caught 53-plus pounds over three days and earned $10,000. Same at St. Clair for the final event.
“I didn’t run to the big lakes like everyone else was doing; I fished like two miles from take-off. I caught so many fish frogging and flipping an eelgrass bed that it was a blast.”
Although he admits that being versatile is critical to success at the Elite level, he is determined to at least start each tournament with a flipping and frogging stick on his deck — next to a drop shot on a spinning reel.
“Any time I can have a frog or a punch bait, I’m going to do that first,” he says. “Anytime I can get bites doing that, it’s likely that if I can get them to the boat they’re the fish to do very well. But when that fails, I’ll have a drop shot or a tiny swimbait tied on to clean up.”
He compares his new plan to that of the ones that Tommy Biffle and Denny Brauer have made long and successful careers out of.
“When those guys get a flippin’ stick in their hands and run up creeks as far as they can, if there are fish there, those guys are going to be hard to beat. And they always do that first. Why? It’s what they’re most comfortable doing, and they’re the best at it.
“One of the things I’ve learned in eight years as a touring pro is that you’ve got to catch what you can catch whenever you can catch it. There will be some tournaments where you’re going to excel because they fit you, but not every one will,” he says. “If I’m confident in what I’m doing, I’m going to get those big bites. When I’m doing what I like to do, I never feel like I’m out of it.”
But one cannot survive on confidence alone.
“Just because you’re having fun, that doesn’t mean that it will come easy,” he says. “But, because you’re in that zone, it’s easier to make decisions than it normally is.
“I don’t know how the rest of this season will turn out, but I’ll be having fun.”