It can be quite a broad topic, but the sig- nificance of that single word is grossly un- derestimated. In bass angling, or just life in general, it is a great tool to possess. I crossed a recent proving ground for determination last year. In 2008, an FLW Stren event was held on Lake Champlain. I was a Co-Angler in that tournament. At the end of Day 1, I had less than 4lbs for 2 fish. That left me at the end of the pack. Not one to call it an event just yet, I got ready to fish hard. Days 2 & 3, I caught decent limits of smallmouth. At the end of Day 3 I jumped up to 12th place overall. I missed the cut by ounces for the final day; however, I was quite pleased with my performance. As a Co-Angler, in a couple of na- tional trails, I have gained some invalu- able experience. I keep my goals lofty, but simple. Just as many other Co-An- glers I have met, I try to learn as much as possible while trying to win each event. This will be helpful when I make my jump to the Professional side of bass fishing. As far as being a Co-Angler, I would like to share some tips with you that have made my outings more successful. Being determined is essential to being successful. I have found that this starts with time on the water. Whether you are fishing out of a little boat like myself, or a big rig already, you know what they say about practice. Learning all of the techniques and situations that you may encounter on the water will make you a better angler. This is how I honed my drop shot ability. I went out on a lake and fished a drop shot all day exclusively. After a cou- ple of trips I started to finally master that technique. I felt like I had already won a tournament. Catching fish is the best way to gain confidence in a technique, no matter how long it takes. The drop shot was essential to my 12th place finish on Champlain. Being versatile also ties into this concept. As a Co-Angler, you may be fishing deep smallies one day and heavy cover largemouth in shallow water the next.
I rig my Power Tackle Rods (www.powertackle.com) with the baits I think will be necessary for the following day. These rods are super sensitive and strong. They will give you an advantage over the fish. Each rod is hand made in South Texas and tested by anglers who can flat out catch fish. I use my Naked Bait Co. (www.nakedbaitco.com) skirt expander to match jigs to the current conditions of each tournament. It is the ultimate match the hatch tool. On 1000 Islands in New York, I made jigs with OBB Lures jigheads (www.obblures.com) to match a dark minnow with a bit of chartreuse on their sides. Whenever I saw those minnows, I would toss out a homemade Naked Bait Co. jig. Those jigs caught many quality largemouth who were keying on these minnows as forage. Finally, don’t be afraid to do some- thing different. Sometimes a different bait will draw those extra strikes in water that your pro has already worked with his bait.
Personally, I have rolled through some hurdles to start my career. Along with being a Co-Angler, I had to figure out how to be successful without the ability to stand. I was a former action sports athlete, participating in both snowboarding and freestyle BMX. In 2004, I broke my back snowboarding and injured my spinal cord. I don’t see being a paraplegic as a disadvantage. I have never had a bass tell me that he didn’t bite my bait be- cause my legs don’t work. I can launch my little boat independently and will teach myself to launch a glass rig when the time comes. I am determined to make 2009 my best season to date. Watch for Jonny Tumbleweed, sporting a mohawk and decked out in Bassaholics gear (www.bassaholics.com) to be bring- ing in some big sacks this year. Just like a Tumbleweed, I will be rolling through Bass West Magazine again soon.
Tight Lines, Jonathan “Tumbleweed” Stanco