German angler treated like a pro


Craig Lamb

WADDINGTON, N.Y. — German angler Aljosha Fritzsche experienced first hand on the St. Lawrence River what the pros already know.

He discovered the smallmouth fishing is spectacular in New York. He found out just how good on a fishing trip with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Fletcher Shryock. The anglers went fishing on the St. Lawrence River during the Huk Bassmaster Elite presented by Go RVing.

Fritzche, who goes by his nickname of Josh, came to New York after winning a joint contest and promotion supported by I Love New York and B.A.S.S.

What stood out about the smallmouth fishing for Josh was the powerful strikes and airborne leaps made by the gamiest freshwater sport fish of them all. On the trip Josh caught his first smallmouth, and many more.

"In Germany we don't have a fish that jumps from the water and makes such strong runs," he said. "You must set the hook at the strike on our fish; here you must wait a moment for them to take the bait."

What Josh and his fellow countrymen have plenty of are a species of perch. Coincidentally, wannabe German bass fishermen use American bass tackle, lures and techniques to catch the perch. Josh, self-described as a hardcore angler, is a member of Shimano Germany's pro staff.

When quizzed about those tactics he immediately responded like an American pro.

"Drop shotting swimbaits over deep structure, flipping jigs in heavy shoreline cover and using soft plastic stick baits catch our perch," he said. "We have seasonal patterns just like Americans do for the bass."

Josh explained the perch are caught using drop shot rigs fished off deep points during wither. Soft plastic stick baits produce strikes in summer when the perch are schooling and feeding on baitfish. Carolina rigs fished deep and jigs fished shallow also produce into the fall months.

Josh learned the lingo and techniques by watching Bassmaster LIVE and other fishing shows on the Internet.

The perch score a close second in sporting value to the bass, of which there are none in Germany. Josh experienced true bass fishing for the first time on a trip to the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Perhaps his savvy product knowledge explains what happened when he stepped aboard the boat of Michael Iaconelli at the Day 2 weigh-in. The brand names, colors, sizes and terminal tackle were all familiar and recognizable.

"That's my job, to know all of the brands," he said. "Give me a handful of different American soft plastic baits and I will know them all."

At only the age of 24, he manages the soft and hard baits department for a large fishing tackle and outdoors gear retailer in his hometown of Berlin. Josh, who started working at the retailer seven years ago, is just like any hardcore American bass angler. When a new product comes out he must have it.

Those lures get tested on the same types of bass waters found in America.

"We have deep, clear lakes, some with dingy and shallow water, and streams and rivers," he explained.

Ironically, the latest trend in bass fishing is a favorite. Small waters. Josh likes to hike into the forests with his belly boat and fish isolated, small lakes.

"Those are unpressured because of the long walks through the forests," he added.

The belly boat gets lots of use for other reasons. Speed limits on German waters make large outboards unpractical for boating anglers. Josh powers his boat using an electric trolling motor.

Drop shot rigs produced few strikes on the trip with Shryock, so he switched to a soft plastic grub and jighead. The changeup produced his first smallmouth and others to come.

Josh plans to take home the lessons learned from Shryock and use them on his perch. He was impressed with the pro's ability to locate bass underwater.

"I learned about sight fishing, and he's got a very good eye for recognizing bass in the underwater surroundings," said.

"I Love New York," is a popular advertising slogan used since the 1970s to promote tourism in the state. The use of a red heart as a symbol for the word "love" makes the logo stand out.

"Germans are a key market for the state of New York," said Michael Mulone, director, events and tourism sponsorships for B.A.S.S. "We want to introduce avid German anglers, like Josh, to the great bass fishing that New York has to offer."

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