From Joe To pro
thing in my life revolved around fishing. From that point on, fishing was not the most important thing in my life anymore. It was a turning of the tide, really.” With a new-found spiritual faith, James did not feel the same financial bur- den or pressure to succeed as he had be- fore. Shortly there- after, his guide trip business picked up, he started to win more money, and he met his wife. James downsized his tour- nament fishing schedule as well. In 2005, he pulled out of the Bassmas- ter Central Opens and started fishing smaller Wal-Mart / FLW Bass Fish- ing League (BFL) and Bassmaster Weekend Series tournaments. He quickly regained self-confidence and qualified for both regional championships.
for my family financially?’ I really did not know if I had an answer. Then, I won those two tournaments. It was such an incredible blessing in my life and took quite a while to set in. I was so blown away that I believe I was just numb to it all.” The following season, James ascended
James placed fourth and ninth, and fol- lowed those Top-10’s with a win at Santee Cooper. To close the season, when tour eli- gibility and Bassmaster Classic qualifica- tion were both on the line, James placed 11th and 28th. Those performances also secured his position as the Southern Open Angler of the Year – a title which provided free entry into the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series. “I was really just having a tough time just trying to make it. Then, all of the sud- den, there it was. Ev- erything was
There is A poinT in BAss Fishing where You simpLY go ouT And Fish, BeLieVe, And hope. And when You do ThAT, You cAn Turn JusT ABouT AnY dreAm inTo reALiTY.
James Niggemeyer Amistad 2009 Photo courtesy BASS Communications Seigo Saito
Two weeks before the BFL Regional on the Ouachita River, James’ wife gave birth to their first child, a baby boy. Although he felt increased responsibility to provide for his expanded family, he remained com- posed. Just days later, James won the Oua- chita River Regional and, in the process, qualified for the BFL All-American. “After they cut the field after Day 2 to the Top 6, I called my wife to tell her that I had made the All-American. I can re- member tears welling up in my eyes be- cause it was such a big accomplishment. I had never really fished the BFLs all that much before that year, but I still knew what winning one of the Regionals and qualify- ing for the All-American meant. Even as a teenager, I had read about fishing the All- American and dreamt about competing in it one day. And to win the tournament, the truck, and the boat, that was a huge boost to my confidence. The whole deal was such a blessing.” Still, James was not finished. A cou- ple weeks after his BFL win, he traveled down to the Red River in Louisiana to compete in another championship: the Bassmaster Weekend Series Regional. The outcome was nearly identical. He won the tournament and took home a first place prize of $50,000. “It was funny because I found my- self thinking immediately after my son was born, ‘How am I going to provide
the next rung in the professional fishing ladder by competing in both the Stren Series and the Bass- master South- ern Opens. Although success in the Strens was elusive, he in- stantly estab- lished himself as a top contender in the Southern Opens. In the first two tour- naments of a five-event series,