Frank Scalish qualified for his first Bassmaster Classic in his first year on tour (2002). He's since notched his first BASS win, won nearly $250K in tournaments and qualified for his second Bassmaster Classic. One thing he hasn't done is answer our 20 Questions. Here's how he did:
1. Where are you from, originally?
Just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, in a town called Mayfield.
2. How did you get started in bass fishing?
When I was 14 years old I was watching The Bassmasters and Bo Dowden won a tournament on 1,000 Islands flipping a jig in the river in eel grass, and I told my father I was going to do that for a living. He said, "No, you're going to go to college and get a real job like everyone else in America," and that's pretty much a quote.
3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?
Without a doubt it was Larry Nixon; and then, later on, when KVD came down the pike he was also someone I looked up to.
4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry?
I'd have to say in 2002 when I qualified for the Classic through the Pro Tour.
5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?
The biggest largemouth was just over 11. I caught it in a little pond in Arkansas, probably 300 acres. I was doing a photo shoot for PRADCO for their swimming jig and I caught the best five-fish limit of my life, and it was the first time I ever threw a swimming jig, so it was outstanding. My biggest legally weighed smallmouth was 6-8. I've caught bigger ones I didn't weigh but used in a photo shoot. I've never caught one over 7, but they've been close.
6. What do you love most about bass fishing?
The hunt. I love finding them. Figuring it out is the deal. I mean, for me, that's why I like going to new lakes because you have to start all over again. It's a big challenge.
7. What is your greatest strength as a bass angler?
Offshore fishing is probably my greatest strength because I've done it so much. When I started in this game, that was my real strength. Now, I'm as at home fishing in 2 feet of water as I am fishing in 50 feet of water.
8. What is your greatest weakness as a bass angler?
The spawn down in Florida. It kills me all the time. I can never seem to find the big ones. I can find plenty of 2-pounders, but those big rafts of giant fish that everyone sight fishes for in Florida elude me.
9. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why?
Holy moley. Honestly, I do not have a favorite specific lake. I just love catching fish, and anywhere I go I love to be. I really like smallmouth fishing a lot, and I love spotted bass fishing a lot. I love fishing Lake Erie, but I hate fishing tournaments there. I love the Coosa River chain because the spots there are enormous.
10. What question do you get asked most by fans and how do you answer it?
The biggest question I get is, "How do I get sponsors?" and the thing I tell them is make sure you go to college because everyone likes intelligence. The next thing is start building a media portfolio now. You can't wait until a month before you need them and try to pick some up. All you are is an advertisement, and the more people you can reach the more value you have to that client. And you are working for them; there are a lot of people that think you don't work for your sponsors and you work for yourself, but that's a very misconstrued thought. They are your employers.
11. What's the biggest mistake you see from casual anglers?
Probably the fact that they run to places they used to catch 'em. And they do a lot of visible fishing. They'll say, "Oh, I can see that blowdown, so I'm going to fish it." They don't take the time to analyze a pattern; they get caught up running to places they got bit before.
12. Do you have any fishing superstitions?
I used to have a million of 'em, but I realized the only thing superstition does is crawl in your head and grow. I try to stay away from them. The only thing I can say matter-of-factly is I like rooming by myself, and at night I like to be by myself and I don't like to talk fishing with other anglers. You can be on the right bite and get talked out of it in a nanosecond.
13. How big a part does luck play in fishing?
Everybody says I'd rather be lucky than good, but I'm a firm believer that you create your own luck, so what I will say about being lucky and fishing is this: If you're catching all 4-pounders, and then you catch a 7-pounder, that's a lucky bite.
14. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the fishing industry?
think it's been making the Classic twice, winning the [2009 Bassmaster Northern Opens] points and having the ability to work with my sponsors.
15. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your bass fishing career?
I want to win the Classic and I want to win the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award in the Elites.
16. What keeps you motivated to reach those goals?
I just flat love fishing and I love the sport.
17. What has been the greatest regret of your fishing career?
I have two. My biggest regret is the time away from home because I love my wife and kids more than anything in the world, and I like to spend time with them and fish with them and stuff, and I don't get that opportunity all that much. The other one is not doing this sooner.
18. When you're not bass fishing, how do you like to spend your time?
Fishing! (laughs) I fly fish a lot on the flats in saltwater, and I fly fish for steelhead and salmon. You are the ultimate predator there. When you've got a fly rod on the flats, it's like bow hunting. You're sight fishing them. If you don't make the perfect shot, you don't get the fish. Steelhead fishing is the same way. You have to have the perfect drift and the perfect swing. I'm obsessed. I tie flies nearly every night when I'm home.
19. What profession (other than your own) would you like to have tried?
I always wanted to be a veterinarian.
20. When it's all over, how do you want people to remember you?
I want people to remember that I gave something back. In all the ups and downs in this sport and all the hardships and the glory, you've got to put something back. If you're not putting stuff back, you're not doing anything. I work with kids a lot and try and teach them the right way not to just go about fishing, but integrity and honesty. Without those two things you have nothing.