An Elite Series perennial for the past 11 years, Mark Tucker has been one of the most consistent anglers on tour. Along the way he's earned more than a half-million dollars and 16 top ten finishes. Here's how the affable Missouri pro answered our 20 Questions:
1. Where are you from, originally?
St. Louis, Mo.
2. How did you get started in bass fishing?
My dad fished tournaments back in the late '60s, so I got hooked on it back then. We fished Project Sports tournaments and the BCA, or Bass Casters Association. Those circuits are where a lot of the legends got started.
3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?
There were several guys, Guido Hibdon, Denny Brauer, even back then there was Roland (Martin) and Rick Clunn, who fished all the Project Sports tournaments. So even back then those guys were heroes then. Probably the No. 1 is my dad, though.
4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry?
You never make it permanently because you're always striving to do better. Even to this day we struggle trying to stay at this level. I don't feel like I've ever made it, but I feel like I've held my own at this point, and it's taken a lot of dedication to stay in it.
5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?
In competition I caught a 9-12 or 9-14 at the Classic we had at Toho. Funny thing is, it was the Classic record fish, but then Rick Clunn had a 10-something, and then Preston (Clark) had an 11 something. That same day there were two of them brought in bigger. That would've been nice to hang on to that record a little longer. Last year, when we were at Amistad, I caught a 9-14 the second day of competition. The biggest one I've ever caught though, was practicing for the Amistad tournament the first year we were there. I caught an 11 pounder.
6. What do you love most about bass fishing?
Once you get out on the water you forget about everything but fishing. That's what I love about it most. When I'm on the water, I can turn everything else off an concentrate on fishing and that's what I love to do; try to really focus on fishing and figure out how to catch 'em and make certain adjustments to catch more.
7. What is your greatest strength as a bass angler?
I would say flipping and pitching.
8. What is your greatest weakness as a bass angler?
Finesse fishing. I can do it, and I'm not bad at it, but I'd just rather pick up a baitcaster rather than an old egg beater.
9. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why?
The California Delta just because of the versatility you have out there. It's mostly shallow-water fishing and there's so much different cover. It's really an awesome place to fish.
10. What question do you get asked most by fans and how do you answer it?
Probably, "How do you become a professional fisherman?" and I always say by the grace of God. That's especially true coming from someone with no money, because other than that I'd say money.
11. What's the biggest mistake you see from casual anglers?
Poor rod choices. I see a lot of guys making the wrong choice for certain presentations; they're either too limber or too heavy. Matching the rod to the technique is critical.
12. Do you have any fishing superstitions?
I do. I try not to have bananas in the boat, but if it's eat or die, I'll break that superstition. I'm also really careful about not running over any animals on the road. That's a bad omen.
13. How big a part does luck play in fishing?
You have to put the L-factor in there, because the harder you work, the luckier you get. I'd like to have a little luck on my side because there's a lot of times when you do hook a fish and you get it in and it's barely skin-hooked and you land it, that's pretty lucky.
14. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the fishing industry?
This will make my seventh Classic in 11 years, but just being able to stay out here has been a great accomplishment. I've seen a lot of guys come and go, and I've been fortunate enough to stay out her as long as I have, even out of my own pocket, so I've been pretty fortunate. Competing with the best anglers on the planet really ups your game because you're always pushing yourself and it keeps you from getting lazy.
15. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your bass fishing career?
Obviously I want a win. I've always fished to be consistent, which has taken away from me being able to win an event. I want to win one to get the monkey off my back. When you're funding a $150,000 a year tournament regime, you have to first and foremost get a check, so you really don't fish the way you need to in order to get a win. You fish to make the Classic and make it to the next year.
16. What keeps you motivated to reach those goals?
I love fishing. I don't want to perceive myself as the best in the world and I would like to be a good angler and respected in that way. I try to stay ahead of the game so when you get to the next even t you have fewer worries and you can focus on fishing.
17. What has been the greatest regret of your fishing career?
Not starting at a younger age. I didn't really start fishing professionally until my mid-thirties. I should be wrapping up a career rather than just starting.
18. When you're not bass fishing, how do you like to spend your time?
I'm fanatical about tackle. I like to familiarize myself with the different rods, reels and baits. I do that first, and when I get that mostly done I do a lot of bird hunting. I've got two German shorthaired pointers I hunt quail and pheasant with. I also do some bow hunting for white tails. While it's not about killing, I had taken five Pope and Youngs with my bow. It's so nice to just go out and get up in a tree, sit there, and be tranquil.
19. What profession (other than your own) would you like to have tried?
I was a concrete finisher for 23 years before I started fishing professionally and I love pouring and designing concrete. I'd probably go back to that.
20. When it's all over, how do you want people to remember you?
As somebody who was consistent. I'd like to be known as a guy who went out there and fished hard, was consistent and gave the fans and sponsors a lot of attention. Also as a guy who did his part and tried to grow the sport.