20 Questions with Denny Brauer

No one's ever been better with a flippin' stick, but Denny Brauer is calling it quits after more than three decades as a top bass pro. Here's how he answered our 20 Questions.

<p><b>20 Questions with Denny Brauer</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 20 Questions with Denny Brauer Simply put, Denny Brauer is one of the all-timers — a bass fishing professional who has excelled at every aspect of his career. He won the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in 1987, the Bassmaster Classic in 1998 and is a fan, sponsor and television favorite. Last week he decided to retire from the Bassmaster Elite Series, but not before answering our 20 Questions.
<p><strong>1. Where were you born and raised?</strong><br /> 	Seward, Neb.</p>
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 1. Where were you born and raised? Seward, Neb.
<p><b>2. How did you get started in bass fishing?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 2. How did you get started in bass fishing? It was a neighborhood thing when I was a kid. A few of us would go down to a stream nearby and fish for anything, really. As I got older, a friend and I would go to a farm pond and started catching bass by accident. Then, before I knew it, that's all I was fishing for. Then I fished my first Federation Nation event, and in 1980 I fished my first national tournament.
<p><b>3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes? Definitely Larry Nixon and Tommy Martin. Later, when I became a professional, I became good friends with them. We hunted, fished and had some success business-wise.
<p><b>4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry? I always had the attitude I had never made it, because you're only as good as your last tournament. I think that attitude has kept me hungry. However, when I won Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year in 1987, I think that put me over the top.
<p><b>5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught? In January 2012 on Lake Amistad, I caught one that bottomed out two 15-pound scales. It was the coolest experience of my fishing life. I caught it on a Strike King 3/4-ounce Tour Grade Football Jig with a Rage Craw trailer. I'd have held onto her long enough to get to some other scales, but I was practicing for a tournament and thought I might be able to catch her later.
<p><strong>6. What do you love most about bass fishing?</strong><br /> 	The unknown. It's like a giant puzzle you want to solve. In a lot of sports, you know exactly what you need to do to win. In bass fishing, that changes from the morning to the afternoon. It's part of the reason I built a home on Lake Amistad — it's a terrific puzzle and a very rewarding one.</p>
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 6. What do you love most about bass fishing? The unknown. It's like a giant puzzle you want to solve. In a lot of sports, you know exactly what you need to do to win. In bass fishing, that changes from the morning to the afternoon. It's part of the reason I built a home on Lake Amistad — it's a terrific puzzle and a very rewarding one.
<p><b>7. What is your greatest strength as a bass angler?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 7. What is your greatest strength as a bass angler? Flipping heavy cover. As a professional bass angler, you need a lot of diversity and you need to be able to do everything, but my favorite technique by far is tossing my signature jig into thick brush and whacking 'em.
<p><strong>8. What is your greatest weakness as a bass angler?</strong><br /> 	Finesse fishing. I don't like to do it, but if I have to I can usually do it well enough to salvage a tournament.</p>
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 8. What is your greatest weakness as a bass angler? Finesse fishing. I don't like to do it, but if I have to I can usually do it well enough to salvage a tournament.
<p><b>9. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 9. Where is your favorite place to fish for bass and why? When I was competing, I tried not to think of one place as my favorite or least favorite because when you have to go to your least favorite lake that puts ideas in your head. If you have to go to a lake you don't like, you're probably not going to do well. Early in my career, I loved Sam Rayburn Reservoir and won my first two national tournaments there. I haven't been there in a while, though, so I'm not sure if I like it as much as I used to. Now my favorite is Lake Amistad. It's where I built a new home and where my wife and I live.
<p><b>10. What question do you get asked most by fans, and how do you answer it?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 10. What question do you get asked most by fans, and how do you answer it? The thing I get asked most is, 'How do I get sponsors?' The way to do it is to get your foot in the door with a company that makes products you sincerely believe in and show them that you are capable of moving product for them. You don't ask what they can do for you, you tell them what you can do for them instead. You need to show them that you are valuable and worth their while.
<p><b>11. What's the biggest mistake you see from casual anglers?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 11. What's the biggest mistake you see from casual anglers? A lot of guys will spend too much time in one place, and before they know it, they've wasted an entire day. There may not even be fish in the area you're in, so you need to move around. If these guys could watch us practice, they'd be amazed at how much we move.
<p><b>12. Do you have any fishing superstitions?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 12. Do you have any fishing superstitions? No, I really don't. But there is one thing I like to do before I hit the road. I have to have my rig washed, have all my tackle organized, my rods re-spooled and hooks replaced. I need to be ready to go when I get where I'm going.
<p><b>13. How big a part does luck play in fishing?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 13. How big a part does luck play in fishing? You create good luck by working hard, I think. No doubt there's an element of luck involved in fishing, though. For example if you hook a fish and he goes left into open water or right into a bush and breaks off, that's pure luck. There are too many things you can't control in fishing, so you need to focus on the things you can control.
<p><b>14. Did your television career have an adverse impact on your fishing career?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 14. Did your television career have an adverse impact on your fishing career? Yes, for a while it did. I was fishing several circuits and trying to do television and that makes for a scheduling nightmare. That didn't leave a lot of time for preparing for events. Now that I'm retired, I'm looking at my television opportunities and trying to come up with the best format. Whatever I do, it'll be the best program I can make.
<p><b>15. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the fishing industry?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 15. What has been your greatest accomplishment in the fishing industry? Professionally, I think winning the Bassmaster Classic tops the list. Personally, I think making people better anglers is my greatest accomplishment whether it was through TV, books, videos or seminars.
<p><b>16. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your bass fishing career?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 16. What goals have you yet to accomplish in your bass fishing career? None really. Everything I set out to accomplish I did years ago.
<p><b>17. What has been the greatest regret of your fishing career?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 17. What has been the greatest regret of your fishing career? There are so many events that got away from me, like two or three Angler of the Year titles. There was also a Bassmaster Classic I lost because a 4-pounder got off, but that's another story. As a competitor, no matter how much you may have accomplished, you always look back at the missed opportunities. For me, they still sting.
<p><b>18. When you're not bass fishing, how do you like to spend your time?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 18. When you're not bass fishing, how do you like to spend your time? I like to test lures and fish with them; that tells you how much I enjoy doing this. I also have three grandkids, so when I'm back in Missouri I'm going to football, softball or soccer games.
<p><b>19. What profession (other than your own) would you like to have tried?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 19. What profession (other than your own) would you like to have tried? None really. I think I had a dream job. Now I'm looking forward to a dream retirement.
<p><b>20. When it's all over, how do you want people to remember you?</b></p> <p style=
Photo: B.A.S.S. - 20. When it's all over, how do you want people to remember you? I want to be remembered as a guy who did everything right, played by the rules and did it 100 percent. The reason I retired is that I can no longer give it 100 percent physically. It's time to take care of my body. To do that I have to stop competing at the top level. Ultimately, I'd like to be remembered as someone who helped other people get better at the sport.