Jami Fralick qualified for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic through the Bassmaster Opens. After leading Day 2 at the Classic, he is more determined than ever to get a win in the upcoming Elite season. In his 20 Questions, Fralick confirms that there are bass in South Dakota and tells us why he's willing to offend people for a win.
1. Where are you from, originally?
2. How did you get started in bass fishing?
I grew up fishing with my dad. He took me when I was five years old, and bass are all we ever went for.
3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?
My dad. He's the one who took me fishing first and taught me how to fish. There were other guys, like Rick Clunn and Gary Klein, that I read about, but my dad is my hero.
4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry?
I don't know if you can ever make it. For most guys, it's a year-to-year deal. You always have to make it again.
5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?
Ten pounds, 7 ounces. I got it out of Choke Canyon in Texas in a tournament. The funny thing is that was only the fourth largest fish caught that day!
6. What do you love most about bass fishing?
The thing I love about it most is the fact that it's different every day. You can go out and do what you think is the right thing and not get anything. Then you need to figure them out again. You learn something every day.
7. What is your greatest strength as a bass angler?
Finding fish. I may not be the best at adapting to the conditions, but I think I can find fish with the best of them.
8. What is your greatest weakness as a bass angler?
Adapting to the conditions. I can get stuck in a rut.
9. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why?
Lake Amistad. There's so many fish and I've always done well there. You can do so many things there and catch fish — and not just catch them, but catch big ones.
10. What question do you get asked most by fans and how do you answer it?
I always get asked if there are bass in South Dakota. I always say yes, there are. They may not be big, but there are lots of them and they're always biting. They always talk about Florida strain not biting, but every day the South Dakota strain bite.
11. What's the biggest mistake you see from casual anglers?
A lot of folks don't look at each day differently. They think that if a fish was in a certain place one day, it'll be there the next. You need to treat each day differently and figure out the fish all over again.
12. Do you have any fishing superstitions?
I have a stinky shirt. If I do well in a tournament on Day 1, I won't change it the next day and so forth. If there's a funky smell around the weigh-in, it's probably my shirt.
13. How big a part does luck play in fishing?
I think it's 80 percent skill and 20 percent luck. I think it's only 20 percent in competitive tournament bass fishing, but it can be more in a one day event. If you hook into a big fish you didn't plan on getting, it's luck. If you know where the fish are at and start getting fish, that's skill. The big fish part is still a lot of luck though.
14. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the fishing industry?
Leading a day at the Bassmaster Classic.
15. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your bass fishing career?
I want to win. I want to win an Elite tournament.
16. What keeps you motivated to reach those goals?
Leading a day at the Classic then falling to eighth; leading an Open then falling to third. In bass fishing, if you're not winning you either want to quit or you want it that much more, and I want it.
17. What has been the greatest regret of your fishing career?
I really don't have any in my fishing career. I've always done what I thought was the right thing in my events.
18. When you're not bass fishing, how do you like to spend your time?
I keep busy. I like to help my friends in construction, particularly building houses. I wouldn't want to do it for a living, but it's nice to see a finished product that you had a hand in making.
19. When it's all over, how do you want people to remember you?
I want people to know that I am the same guy on and off the water. I'm always the same.
20. What's the biggest lesson you've learned in your career?
I've learned how to handle the ups and downs of tournament fishing. I've learned to keep everything on a level playing field. Sunday at the Classic was rough, but by Monday morning it was back to normal. I forget about yesterday and live for today.