A Busman’s Holiday

Courtesy FLWFishing.com

What does a plumber do when he goes on vacation? The only sure answer is he probably doesn’t plan to do any plumbing. Lawyers don’t do legal work. Firemen don’t fight fires. So what about professional fishermen?

When it comes to professional bass fishermen it’s different. Going fishing isn’t clear off their radar screen. Don’t count on pro-bassers to just head for their favorite or a nearby bass lake for a non-work related bass fishing trip though some do. There’s lots of other kinds of fish and fishing and I know several pros who put down their bass gear but pick up some other kind of tackle.

When O.T. Fears from Oklahoma fished eastern tournaments on Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, he’d often stop by my house on his way to or from, leave his boat on the trailer and we’d take my boat up to Lake Michigan for salmon, steelhead or perch. Back home he’ll use his own boat but be out on Euphala or Tenkiller lake with his crappie rods. I’ve also accompanied Fears on quail and deer hunting excursions in south Texas.

Pro Cliff Crochet fished the Bassmaster Southern Open in the Atchafalaya Basin in late October. He won the event but told me he’s not actually made a cast since his tournament victory. He said, “Ever since the win, all I’ve been trying to do is relax and enjoy this off-season.”

That relaxation has been close to home and with his family and friends. He did spend a several days deer hunting.

None of the pros I know spent their down time quite like veteran Jared Lintner. The California-based pro and his wife Keri celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary by taking a week-long cruise in the Bahamas.

“The only problem was that we had to wait until our 21st anniversary to celebrate,” laughed Lintner. “Last year the schedule just did not work because we were too busy. That’s when we decided we’d just postpone everything a year.”

The Lintners almost didn’t make it this year, either. Jared had a week-long photo shoot for his sponsors at Clear Lake; he flew to Florida to practice at Lake Okeechobee; and he drove his RV to Idaho for a week of waterfowl hunting and fishing. All of this took place as they started building a new home. No moss is growing under Jared’s feet.

Pro-Basser Justin Lucas of Alabama has done a little traveling and a little fishing, but not for bass during his off-season. In October, he made his first trip to Venice, Louisiana, to sample the legendary redfish action at the mouth of the Mississippi.

“We caught a lot of redfish in the 15- to 20-pound class,” he noted, “but for me the real highlight of the trip was catching a 26-pound tripletail. My friends and I were fishing in a light aluminum boat, and that fish pulled us around a little before I finally landed it. It’s an incredible gamefish, and catching one that size was really a thrill. I actually caught another one that weighed 18-pounds on the same trip, so I was very fortunate.”

I’ve fished with many of these professionals and I can tell you none of them are “one-trick-ponies.” They know bass fishing inside and out and though they may have a favorite technique, they can catch bass top to bottom, at dawn or midday.

They can also adapt their skills to other species, such as Fears does with crappies or Lucas did with redfish in Louisiana. Don’t bet against any of them even if it’s an ice fishing derby.
The fishing profession in all of them grew from roots in the outdoors. Most have been lifelong hunters, fishermen and participated in all sorts of outdoor activities in their younger years.

That love of the outdoors doesn’t fade when they are off the job.

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Mike Schoonveld
Mike Schoonveld grew up hunting and fishing in rural Northwest Indiana. In 1986 he piggy-backed a career as an outdoor writer onto his already long tenure as a wildlife biologist with the Indiana DNR. Now retired from his DNR position, Schoonveld is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed boat captain, operates Brother Nature Charters on Lake Michigan and spends much of his time trailering his boat to fishing hotspots around Indiana and the Midwest. Mike can be reached through his website www.brother-nature.com or visit Mike's Outdoor World Blog at www.bronature.com

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