In 2003, Koby Kreiger underwent major life changes. He fished the Bassmaster Classic at the Louisiana Delta, which he qualified for by claiming the Bassmaster Northern Opens points championship the previous year.
Kreiger also moved from Mishawaka, Ind., to Florida with his wife, Lisa, and embarked on a successful career as a full-time professional bass angler. Because he had yet to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series, he competed on the FLW Tour.
Kreiger landed his first tarpon soon after moving to Florida. He was so enthralled with the experience that he bought a bay boat. He now guides for tarpon, starting in May, whenever there isn’t a conflict with a bass tournament.
The year 2014 was another life changer for Kreiger. He again won the Bassmaster Northern Opens points championship, which earned him an invitation to fish the Elite Series, which he accepted.
“Not having to fish with a co-angler was worth the price of admission for me,” Kreiger said. “That makes it a true professional event.”
Kreiger competed against the world’s best bass fishermen for three seasons, but he failed to requalify for his fourth season.
“I was tied with Andy Montgomery for the last spot in the points that would get to fish the Elites again,” Kreiger said. “Andy won the tiebreaker, and I was out.”
The following year, 2018, Kreiger returned to the FLW Tour. When the opportunity came to rejoin the Elite Series in 2019, he jumped at the chance.
“I’m very happy to have a restart,” Kreiger said. “B.A.S.S. is a great organization.”
Kreiger’s bass fanaticism was passed down to him from his father, Quinn, who fished the Bassmaster Invitationals in the 1980s.
“When I was 10 or 11 years old, I used to go to Bassmaster tournaments with my dad in the wintertime,” Kreiger said. “I got autographs from Ray Scott, Rick Clunn, Guido Hibdon, all those guys back in the day that sort of made B.A.S.S.”
When Kreiger was in third grade, he fished a team benefit tournament with his father. It was his first taste of competition.”
“After that, I was hooked,” Kreiger said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to be a professional fisherman.”
Growing up in northern Indiana, Kreiger fished tournaments near home. There were frequent outings to Monroe Reservoir, Patoka Lake and the Ohio River. Bass were generally hard to come by on these fisheries.
“That was actually good for me,” Kreiger said. “I learned at a young age that you might get only two or three bites in a day’s time. The main thing my dad taught me was to keep a positive outlook and not get mad or frustrated.”
Working at his father’s business, Trailmaster Custom Boat Trailers, allowed Kreiger to maintain a steady income while he pursued his dream of being a bass pro. He started at the bottom by sweeping floors and gradually worked his way up through manufacturing and designing to sales.
In 2001, Kreiger’s father passed away. Kreiger regrets that this happened before he fished the Classic and became a professional bass fisherman.
As for Kreiger’s angling style, he regards himself as a junk fisherman who applies his skills mainly in shallow water. This was clearly evident when Kreiger competed in the 2014 Northern Opens. He figured the first event at Douglas Lake would be his toughest challenge.
Rather than crowd in with other competitors on offshore community holes, Kreiger ran far upriver and fished shallow cover with a frog and a few other baits. He sacked enough bass to nab 24th place.
He was disappointed with this 33rd place finish at Lake Champlain. He caught limits of smallmouth bass by fishing shallow rock piles with a drop-shot rig and a Bandit 200 crankbait.
“I just never got the big bite I needed,” he said.
At the final Northern Open at Lake St. Clair, Kreiger made the long run to Lake Erie and fished in Michigan water. He found a pack of smallies frequenting isolated rock piles and sandy spots in 10 feet of water.
On Day 1, he culled a limit of smallmouth bass in minutes that weighed over 20 pounds. When the smoke cleared after Day 3, Kreiger had claimed fourth place, the points championship and an invitation to fish the Elite Series.
“I really like throwing topwater baits, little homemade crankbaits and sight fishing,” Kreiger said. “If I have to do something different, I will. But I’m mainly a moving-bait fisherman. I can hardly stand to fish slow.”
While Kreiger is traveling, Lisa holds down the home front, takes care of their cats and works for Lee County Environmental Services. When Kreiger is on the road fishing tournaments for several weeks, Lisa flies to spend time with him part way through the trip.
“I’m very fortunate to have a wife that is willing to do all that,” Kreiger said.
Kreiger’s sponsors are Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, Humminbird Electronics, Minn Kota, Talon, Powell Rods, Abu Garcia reels, Hi-Seas Line, V&M Baits, Trailmaster Trailers and Roland Martin Marine Center.