Generally regarded as the greatest flipper and pitcher of all time, Denny Brauer has won more than $2 million on the BASS Tournament Trail along with a Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award (1987) and a Bassmaster Classic title (1998). Here's what he had to say when faced with our 20 questions.
1. Where are you from, originally?
2. How did you get started in bass fishing?
Oh, boy, it was a neighborhood thing when I was a kid. A few of us would go down to a stream nearby and fish for anything, really. As I got older a friend and I would go to a farm pond and started catching bass by accident. Then, before I knew it, that's all I was fishing for. Then I fished my first Federation Nation event, and in 1980 I fished my first national tournament.
3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?
Oh, definitely Larry Nixon and Tommy Martin. Later, when I became a professional, I became good friends with these two. We hunted, fished and had some success business-wise.
4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry?
I always had the attitude I had never made it, because you're only as good as your next tournament. I think that attitude has kept me hungry. However, when I won Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year in 1987, I think that put me over the top.
5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?
I've actually caught two 13-pound bass. One I caught years ago while I was filming Bass Class, and the other was a few years ago at Lake Falcon during practice.
6. What do you love most about bass fishing?
The unknown. It's like a giant puzzle you can never solve. In a lot of sports, you know exactly what you need to do to win. In bass fishing, that changes from the morning to the afternoon.
7. What is your greatest strength as a bass angler?
Flipping heavy cover. With our schedule, you need a lot of diversity and you need to be able to do everything, but my favorite by far is tossing my signature jig into thick brush and whacking them.
8. What is your greatest weakness as a bass angler?
Finesse fishing. I don't like to do it, but if I have to I can usually do it well enough to salvage a tournament.
9. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why?
I've tried not to think of one place as my favorite or least favorite because when you have to go to your least favorite lake that puts ideas in your head. If you have to go to a lake you don't like, you're probably not going to do well. But if I had to pick one, that would be Sam Rayburn. I won my first two national tournaments there and have usually done pretty well. You can spread out and use a lot of different patterns there and be successful. We haven't been there in a while, so I'm not sure if I like it as much as I think I do.
10. What question do you get asked most by fans, and how do you answer it?
The thing I get asked most is, 'How do I get sponsors?' The way to do it is to get your foot in the door with a company that makes products you sincerely believe in and show them that you are capable of moving product for them. The misconception a lot of people have about this is that you don't ask what they can do for you, you tell them what you can do for them instead. You need to show them that you are valuable and worth their while.
11. What's the biggest mistake you see from casual anglers?
A lot of guys will spend too much time in one place, and before they know it, they've wasted an entire day. There may not even be fish in the area you're in, so you need to move around. If these guys could watch us practice, they'd be amazed at how much we move.
12. Do you have any fishing superstitions?
No, I really don't. But there is one thing I like to do before I hit the road. I have to have my rig washed, have all my tackle organized, my rods re-spooled and hooks replaced. I need to be ready to go when I get where I'm going.
13. How big a part does luck play in fishing?
You quantify your luck by how hard you work, I think. No doubt there's an element of luck involved. For example if you hook a fish and he goes left into open water or right into a bush and breaks off, that's pure luck. There are too many things you can't control in fishing, so you need to focus on the things you can control.
14. Did your television career have an adverse impact on your fishing career?
Yes, for a while it did. I was fishing several circuits and trying to do television and that makes for a scheduling nightmare. That didn't leave a lot of time for preparing for events. I mean, that kept me on the water all the time, so I was always in tune with the fish, but now that I'm just doing Strike King's Pro Team Journal, I have more time to prepare and be ready for events.
15. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the fishing industry?
Publicly, I think winning the Bassmaster Classic tops the list. Personally, I think making people better anglers is my greatest accomplishment whether it was through TV, books, videos or the countless seminars.
16. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your bass fishing career?
None really. Everything I set out to accomplish I did years ago. Now I just want to stay at this level and be competitive as long as I can because I love doing it.
17. What has been the greatest regret of your fishing career?
There are so many events that got away from me, like two or three Angler of the Year titles. There was also a Bassmaster Classic I lost because a 4-pounder got off, but that's another story.
18. When you're not bass fishing, how do you like to spend your time?
I like to test lures and fish with them; that tells you how much I enjoy doing this. I also have three grandkids, so when I'm home I'm going to football, softball or soccer games.
19. What profession (other than your own) would you like to have tried?
None really. I think I have a dream job. I joke with my son Chad that he has it good, too, because he gets to fish and hunt.
20. When it's all over, how do you want people to remember you?
I want to be remembered as a guy who did everything right, played by the rules and did it 100 percent. Also, I want to be remembered as someone who helped other people get better at the sport.