Although he may not be a household name in tournament circles, many professional anglers and die-hard bass anglers know the name Jonny Schultz very well.
I first met Schultz in 2003, when he won the Bassmaster Casting Kids National competition.
Even though he was 8 years old at the time, the level of knowledge and his ability to clearly articulate fishing theories bordered on the incredible.
After I met him, Schultz, his dad and I stayed in contact over the years. I sort of became an occasional mentor as he grew his skill levels each year.
Today, in his early 20s, Schultz has created a massive YouTube following on his Fish the Moment channel. He produces videos that give detailed, easy-to-understand information on some of the most difficult aspects in fishing.
A few months back, I had not seen Schultz in several years, and we happened to launch at the same ramp on Table Rock lake one morning. After catching up about life, Schultz presented the idea of me working with him on some of his YouTube projects.
The past few months working with him have been eye opening to say the least. Especially in terms of how his generation of anglers have elevated the knowledge base far beyond that of many veteran tournament anglers.
Schultz is a prime example of what I have seen as a trending reality in bass fishing … creativity and imagination are more important than experience.
At first, this was hard for me and other veteran anglers to comprehend or accept.
After all, common sense would dictate that the more time on the water, more seasons fished, would allow anglers with more experience to dominate the younger anglers. The new generation would have had little on-the-water time to develop an understanding of seasonal patterns and bass movements.
But this is not the case, and spending time with Schultz has affirmed my belief in this.
For example, in a recent video Schultz and I shot for his Fish The Moment channel on Table Rock Lake, he developed a strong pattern of fishing offshore for deep suspended bass, away from any typical areas like points and other hard structure.
The water was 12 feet over normal, and I was convinced the bass would be using the flooded cover more than offshore areas. I was wrong. And Schultz outperformed me by a mile that day.
My years of experience on the lake had colored my ability to fish with an open mind. Fishing for suspended bass deeper than 50 feet while some bass were still on the beds was not even in my mind. Yet Schultz, with extraordinarily little time on Table Rock, completely blew my misconceptions and limitations out of the water.
Looking back over the years, I have seen this before, but not to the level we see it today. When I was in my mid 20s, I could occasionally outperform seasoned veterans like Clunn, Nixon and others by having the same open mind vs. years of conditioned experience.
But today, we see this separation almost without exception. We see superstar anglers as they get into their mid to late 40s, and their performance levels begin to taper off, while new names are constantly popping up and outperforming the veterans.
The advent of YouTube and other social media, along with new lure and electronic technology, have certainly aided this trend.
When you take a young, intelligent and talented angler like Schultz and others and add in a good amount of desire and passion to excel in the sport, it creates an angler that is simply on the next level.
With Schultz and I, at one point I was the teacher, and he was the student.
Now, those roles have changed. The student can teach the teacher, and the teacher can complement those new approaches with experience, which further accelerates the learning process of both.
I am really looking forward to working with Schultz moving forward. If you all haven’t had the opportunity, check out his Fish the Moment Youtube videos.
I am confident whether you are 12 years old or 90, the information you find there will help transform your level of intellectual and practical fishing skills tremendously.