Central Open: Luke Clausen home again

Luke Clausen is only 36 years old, but you get the sense he has been a blue-chip bass pro as long as some of the grizzled legends of our sport.

Clausen has fished mainly the FLW Tour since winning the Bassmaster Classic at Lake Tohopekaliga in 2006. He began competing in Bassmaster Opens events in 2013 with the goal of qualifying for the Elite Series.

If Clausen pulls it off, it will be something of a homecoming. He fished his first Bassmaster tournament in 2001, a Western Invitational at Lake Mead. Prior to winning the Toho Classic, Clausen had fished 37 Bassmaster events. They included Invitationals, Opens, Tours, Elite 50s and two previous Classic appearances.

Of the 54 Bassmaster tournaments Clausen has fished to date, he has earned checks in 34 of them and has 10 Top 10 finishes.

With two Southern Opens under his belt in 2015 Clausen is 15th in the point standings, well within striking distance of the Elites. He nabbed 10th place at the first Central Open at Ross Barnett in March of 2015 and could qualify via the Central Opens, as well.

Clausen made an indelible mark when he won the Forest Wood Cup in 2004 at Alabama’s Lake Logan Martin and the Bassmaster Classic at Lake Toho 18 months later. Each of those victories earned him $500,000 paychecks. Clausen is one of only five anglers to win the Cup and the Classic.

Born in Missoula, Mont., Clausen grew up in Spokane, Wash., a short cast from Lake Coeur d’ Alene in the Idaho panhandle.

“There is actually a lot of good bass fishing in that region,” Clausen said. “It typically takes over 20 pounds day to win on most lakes.”

Clausen’s father, Cal, was heavily into club level bass tournaments and got Clausen involved in them early on. Clausen later competed in team tournaments with a buddy and won four boats by the time he went to Eastern Washington University.

He graduated with a major in business marketing management and a minor in computer management information systems. After graduation, Clausen lived in California for a year where he learned western bass tactics. It was the beginning of his doctorate in bass fishing.

Chris Bowes interviews Luke Clausen during a 2015 Opens tournament.

A free-spirited bachelor, Clausen then moved to Phoenix and later to Nashville, Atlanta, Chattanooga and “a little everywhere.” Each new location expanded his bass fishing knowledge.

Moving to the South also put Clausen closer to most of lakes he fishes in a typical tournament season. Five years ago Clausen, who is still single, moved to Otis Orchards, Washington, which is close to his family. He leaves his boat with whichever friends live nearest to the next tournament on his schedule and flies to and from home to avoid the long drives.

“There’s no place like home,” Clausen said. “My sister, my extended family and a lot of longtime friends live there. It’s nice to be back home and get away from fishing for a little bit.”

Should Clausen qualify for the Elite Series, he intends to fish it. He will also fish the FLW Tour, provided there are no conflicts in the Elite Series schedule. As much as he loves fishing bass tournaments, Clausen knows that too many events can lead to burnout.

Then again, fishing more tournaments that have huge payouts can lead to a substantially fattened bank account.

“It will also show more value to my sponsors,” Clausen said.

Those sponsors include, Bridgford Foods, Mercury, Ranger, Megabass Lures, Z-Man Lures, Smith Optics, Power-Pole, Gama Fishing, TUF-Line, REC Components, Dirty Jigs Tackle, Stormr Foul Weather Gear, Raymarine and Tackle Warehouse.

When Clausen isn’t fishing, you’ll often find him afield hunting.