AMBASSADORS



Brad Knight

FRESH

LOCATION:Lancing, TN

FISHING FOR:Bass - FLW


Craziest fish story?

Not sure it’s crazy but certainly the most important fish story. I caught a four-pounder at the 2015 Potomac River FLW Tour event on my last cast. Without that fish, I wouldn’t have qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup. I went on to win the Cup and $500,000.

Who got you into fishing?

Nobody in my family really fished, but I could generally con my dad into taking me to ponds as a kid. That planted the seed for sure.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Somewhere that’s warm and they’re biting!

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

College football coach, it’s the only job I can think of where you get paid millions of dollars to get fired from your job...

Least favorite part of your job?

The business side of things.

What makes a good fisherman?

Drive and work ethic. Even if you’re not the most naturally gifted angler, you can make up for that with determination.

Something nobody knows about you?

Bigtime University of Tennessee sports fan.

Miles "Sonar"
Burghoff

FRESH/SALT

LOCATION:Hixson, TN

APPEARS ON:Sweetwater TV


Craziest fish story?

Though I'm a die-hard bass angler, I also guide in Alaska during the summers, and with such a wild, untamed, environment up there, you could imagine I have some pretty great stories.  One fishing story in particular that sticks out happened while trolling for salmon with a family of four. It was a father, mother, and two small children.  It had been a brutally tough early season day where we hadn't caught much, and it was the end of the day. In a last-ditch effort, I had made a move to an area that I had past success in, but it was a little tricky to fish with high current and a few high spots that were well known for claiming down-rigging gear if you weren't careful. I was having a conversation with the group and didn't realize I was getting close to one of those rises.  All of a sudden, starting in a clockwise fashion, all four rods that I had stacked on the riggers went off. At first, I thought I had caught bottom, but soon realized we were dealing with one, or multiple, halibut. The family sprang into action, each grabbing the nearest rod and started to fight. It didn't take long for me to realize that it was one fish we were fighting. I just assumed it had ate one rig and got snagged on the other three, but it didn't matter because the family was having a blast fighting this massive 100-plus pound halibut on salmon gear. Once to the surface, I was shocked to realize that indeed all four rigs were completely down it's throat.  He must have just gone in a circle eating each bait in a matter of seconds.  Needless to say, the family was ecstatic, I was happy to salvage a tough day, and we both came away with a pretty awesome fish story!

Who got you into fishing?

 I’d have to say that both my parents got me started equally.  My dad was the fisherman, but my mom was very supportive, so she deserves a great deal of credit also.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Lake Okeechobee—no question.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I hate to dismiss a question, but I’m living my dream right now. I can't imagine myself doing anything else with my life.

Least favorite part of your job?

Time away from my wife. One day I hope we can travel together everywhere I go, but she has her own career ambitions that keep her close to home, and I respect that.

What makes a good fisherman?

I think the best anglers embrace their own instincts and don't overthink things. Fishing is a very instinctual sport, and we tend to get in our own heads, but when I’m doing my best is when I’m allowing myself to let go of conventional wisdom and do what feels right. It's important to always be learning—particularly in the early stages—but I think that the top anglers who have seen lasting success trust their gut above all else.

Something nobody knows about you?

I’m a HUGE Pink Floyd fan. If I'm getting tired on the road, I put on The Wall and pretty much become a one-man rock opera. Also, for those millennials out there that probably don't know, my nickname "Sonar" comes from the fact that my dad was an actor who played a character named "Radar" on this old show called "MASH".

Johnnie Candle

FRESH

LOCATION:Devils Lake, ND

OCCUPATION:Guide


Craziest fish story?

There have been several but this one is still a head scratcher. I was fishing with another fishing guide on Lake Ontario for king salmon. Running downriggers was something I had done for many years. When setting a rod in the holder, I missed and dropped the rod over the side of the boat. It was attached to the down rigger ball though

We carefully raised the down rigger weight and just as I was reaching for the rod, the line released from the weight and the rod faded to the depths. Approximately 5 minutes later, the other downrigger released. Thinking it was a fish, the line was attended too quickly. It ended up being the rod we thought we had lost. Once that was determined, caution was used, and the rod neared the boat. Just at the end the lines came apart from each other and the rod again disappeared into the depths. Almost immediately one of the other rods began bouncing. Yes, we had a third chance to get the lost rod and reel back. This time it held on long enough and it was recovered.

You cannot imagine how relieved I was to get that rod and reel back that day.

Who got you into fishing?

My father and grandfather were (dad still is) incredible anglers. My father was a Lake Erie charter boat captain for many years. I have always fished more than anything else in life. Fishing was and is a way of life and always will be.

Where do you wish you were right now?

In a boat catching a fish. I am truly happiest while I am fishing. Nothing else seems to matter.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Selling minnows in a small-town bait shop in the middle of nowhere. I have always loved the ma and pop bait shop and it would be awesome to fade into the background, sell fishing gear and help folks catch fish without them knowing who I am.

Least favorite part of your job?

Paperwork. I got into fishing for a living because I love to fish. It is a job and the office part are not my favorite.

What makes a good fisherman?

The ability to admit when you are wrong. You have to be able to say, “Hey Dude, what you’re doing isn’t working, you better try something else.” Many anglers struggle with that

Something nobody knows about you?

I was the first professional walleye angler to walk across a tournament stage with 50 pounds of walleye in the bag. It was the North American Walleye Anglers tournament in 1995 out of Toledo, OH. Funny part is I ended up in 3rd place for the day. That was an incredible event. There are a few other things that shouldn’t be shared here. HA.

Brent Chapman

FRESH

LOCATION:Lake Quivira, KS

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

My craziest fish story was landing a Goliath Grouper. I had to run the rope between cleats on the boat to get the beast to the surface. It was like pulling up a school bus! Another crazy fish story happened when we were filming season 2 of Pro Vs Joe in Alabama. My 13-year-old son was on the other side of the lake and caught a 12.6-pound bass on a ned rig while we were struggling to catch 3 pounders. Mason has some great fish catching skills!

Who got you into fishing?

My dad. We were on a camping trip at a local lake when I saw a small buddy tournament weighing in… I was amazed and told my dad I wanted to be a professional bass tournament angler. He has been supportive my entire career.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Off shore fishing in Florida

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Deer Hunting Outfitter or Hosting Hunting TV show

Least favorite part of your job?

The long hours of driving. I love that we get to travel the country and see so many places…but the driving can be tough.

What makes a good fisherman?

Dedication. Drive. Hard work. Versatility and Flexibility.

Something nobody knows about you?

I’m an open book. No secrets here. I am just a guy that got lucky enough to live his dream

Cliff Crochet

FRESH

LOCATION:Belle Rose, LA

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

When I hooked my wife in the hand on our first date.

Who got you into fishing?

My daddy.

Where do you wish you were right now?

I’m at home so I’m happy.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Football Coach

Least favorite part of your job?

Travel and learning to be a social media guru.

What makes a good fisherman?

Being open minded to try new things and having fun while you’re on the water.

Something nobody knows about you?

I am very into growing my grass around my house and getting my yard into shape.

Mark Davis

FRESH/SALT

LOCATION:Lexington, SC

APPEARS ON:Big Water Adventures TV


Craziest fish story?

After 11 seasons traveling from Alaska to Panama and 50+ species a year, I have filmed more than I can count. One of them would that tops the list was the first time I went to Prince Edward Island after Giant Bluefin Tuna in 2007 for Big Water Adventures’ first season.  Back then about the only person fighting them on stand-up gear was Dennis Braid and he was a legend at it.  I pretty much had no idea what I was doing.  We had to borrow gear for me to try it on Jamie Bruce’s boat—he thought I was nuts.  I ended up catching two of them back-to-back in one day that were pushing 900 pounds. 8ft bent butt rod on a 130 PENN International; I don’t think I walked right for two weeks after that.  I looked like somebody pushed me off the third floor of a building.  Now everybody does it, myself included, but on tackle far more conducive to the technique.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad, I think…I can’t remember not ever being into fishing.

Where do you wish you were right now?

In a deer stand.  I fish for a living and live to hunt.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Ranch owner of 1000+ acres.  I’m a country boy at heart and never more relaxed than when I’m out in the woods.

Least favorite part of your job?

Travel. Being away from my family 200 days a year.

What makes a good fisherman?

Versatility. Being able to go after anything that swims in salt or fresh is a lifelong learning experience. The longer you do it, the more you realize fish are driven by wanting to eat, not get eaten, and make babies…it’s just where and how they do it that separates them. Keep it simple.

Something nobody knows about you?

I had a music scholarship for vocals to Ball State University my freshman year in college. I flunked out, had to go before the university board and beg to get let back in. Graduated in 5 years with a degree in journalism and public relations. Never quit and never give up.

Ott Defoe

FRESH

LOCATION:Blaine, TN

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

Watching a guy’s truck roll into the lake after he got out of it.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad is responsible for that.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Home, for sure.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I am living the only dream I’ve ever had.

Least favorite part of your job?

Being gone from my family.

What makes a good fisherman?

Someone who trusts their instincts and can forget yesterday.

Something nobody knows about you?

There is a reason nobody knows!

Jon Duffie

SALT

LOCATION:Ocean City, MD

Billfisher and Agitator


Craziest fish story?

The day we caught 57 white marlin in Maryland. We had heard a good report of outside the Washington canyon from the day before. We weren’t supposed to fish the next day but we decided to go. As soon as we put three baits in the water we hooked a triple header of white marlin and it was steady like that all-day long. We even caught 6 at one time. It was pretty phenomenal fishing.

Who got you into fishing?

My parents. We started fishing offshore as soon as I could walk.

Where do you wish you were right now?

I love fishing at home in Maryland and down in Costa Rica, but I would love to try fishing off the coast of Morocco.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I don’t have another dream job. I’m living it. But if I had to say, boat building.

Least favorite part of your job?

Letting people down when we don’t catch them as good as I hoped.

What makes a good fisherman?

Attention to detail.

Something nobody knows about you?

I secretly wish I was musically talented. It would make me singing Journey as I run the boat out more pleasant.

Brent Ehrler

FRESH

LOCATION:Redlands, CA

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

Years ago, my friend lost a rod fishing off the side of the boat. A fish actually pulled it over. We went back to the area a week later. I used a squid jig and started casting it around trying to snag it. On my third cast I hooked a swivel with line attached to it. Pulled the line in and there was his rod.

Who got you into fishing?

My parents were the first ones to get me involved. My dad took me to a local park that had two ponds. I caught bluegill from the bank. My mom was the one that ended up running me all over the place to feed my passion for fishing.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Snow skiing.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I always thought I was going to compete in free skiing championships. That was where I thought I was actually going to make a living.

Least favorite part of your job?

The travel time away from home is the worst part of this job. I miss out on a lot of family activities.

What makes a good fisherman?

I believe the ability to be versatile technique wise is what makes me stand out from other Anglers.

Something nobody knows about you?

I’m a sucker for comic book movies.

Al Farace

FRESH

LOCATION:Hunt Valley, MD

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

Probably when I was fishing in Northern Alberta for my 16th birthday. I hooked a small two-pound walleye when suddenly a big 10-pound walleye came out of nowhere and grabbed the little one. Before it all registered in my brain, a gigantic 30lb Northern Pike came up and ate everything. I landed that pike—it was a fish of a lifetime for me.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad. He would take me and my older brothers to the O’Neil’s pond. It was so full of bass, and they’d bite a bare hook. I bought my first rig when I was 18 years-old: a 16-foot aluminum boat to use on Maryland’s “electric only” reservoirs. In my late 20s, I bought an 18-foot Bass Cat and dove head first into the Bassmaster Weekend Series. Eventually moved onto the Bassmaster Opens.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Anywhere in Hawaii.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Outdoor adventure guide in Colorado.

Least favorite part of your job?

If we are talking about fishing, it’s being away from home. If we are talking about my real job, I sit in a cubicle—enough said. Oh, and of course BASS Live is blocked at the office.

What makes a good fisherman?

Aside from experience and attitude, the ability to adapt in the moment is what makes a great fisherman and a successful tournament angler.

Something nobody knows about you?

I used to restore old Ford Broncos and sell them on Ebay back in the day.

Billy Gerlach

SALT

LOCATION:Palm Beach, FL

Makara


Craziest fish story?

The day we caught 35 white marlin in a day. It was marlins all day long. It was incredible. We had 58 bites.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad. Just as a kid fishing with him. Hes the one who took me out and showed me the ropes offshore. I outgrew his want and need to go which led me to what I do now.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Exploring Ascension Island.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Probably a hunting outfitter. Or anything with guns.

Least favorite part of your job?

Being away from my wife and kids.

What makes a good fisherman?

A good fisherman someone that is always willing to learn and adapt to new situations and techniques. Someone that doesn’t think they know it all.

Something nobody knows about you?

I am a big softy when it comes to my daughters.

Greg Hackney

FRESH

LOCATION:Gonzales, LA

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

Happened at lake Martin Elite this year. I caught a two-pounder off a boat dock on a jig. I unhooked the bass and dropped the jig over the side of the boat to cull. While I was culling another two-pounder grabbed my jig off the side of the boat and pulled my rod into the water! I was able to take another rod and actually catch the rod with the fish on it! What makes this story even better was my Marshall was a pastor from Georgia. I told him had it not been for him no one would believe a bass in 48-degree dirty water would get the jig hanging on side of my boat. The bass was released safely back in lake Martin.

Who got you into fishing?

My whole family fished from my parents to grandparents on both sides of my family. It’s like I didn’t really have a choice!

Where do you wish you were right now?

I wish I was at Toledo Bend Flipping bushes looking for a tree shaker.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

My dream job other than the one I have now would be managing a large herd of Whitetail deer I love them as much as a bass.

Least favorite part of your job?

Least favorite part of my job is the time away from my family only drawback to be a professional fisherman.

What makes a good fisherman?

A passion for the Outdoors a desire to understand the impossible.

Something nobody knows about you?

I love to entertain and throw dinner parties. I love to cook.

Andy Helms

SALT

LOCATION:Ocean City, MD

Reel Joy and En Joy


Craziest fish story?

I’d say it’s between catching a 7 banger of striped marlins during the 2017 Los Suenos tournament but only having 6 counts and catching 31 white marlins in a day with one angler and 2 mates. Both were utter chaos.

Who got you into fishing?

I started fishing on rivers and lakes as a kid with my dad. My first job on a boat was with Capt. Stu Windsor on the Lisa out of Ocean City Maryland. But really got started with the help of Chad Meeks and Chris Watkowski.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Would like to be at the fads in Costa Rica right now.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Fishing is definitely my dream job.

Least favorite part of your job?

Least favorite part of my job is when stuff breaks for no reason.

What makes a good fisherman?

Attention to detail is what makes a good fisherman. Noticing little subtleties and paying attention to things other guys don’t notice.

Something nobody knows about you?

I was born in and lived in Arkansas till I was 11.

Ryan Higgins

SALT

LOCATION:Palm Beach, FL

Viking


Craziest fish story?

When we are up north white marlin tournament fishing, we almost always use light tackle and 30s for the reels. This specific day we were fishing big baits on the short riggers with 80wides. The shorts kept getting eaten by white marlin so we did something we almost never do; we switched the big rods to the long rigger and put the dinks on short riggers. Not five min later a 900lb blue marlin came up and crushed a dink bait on the short rigger on the 30wide. We released it in fifteen min but we spent 4 hours trying to put a gaff in it – to no avail. Its the biggest fish I’ve ever caught and also the one that got away.

Who got you into fishing?

I would say my best friends growing up. A few of their parents had fishing boats and I spent summers fishing with them. My family was not into fishing.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Down in the Dominican Republic. Casa de Campo sounds like they have had some really good fishing.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I think I have it. I honestly don’t know what I would do if not for what I am now. With my job now I’m in every aspect of this industry I would want to be. If not in the fishing/boat industry, probably a hunting guide.

Least favorite part of your job?

The last minute failures that happen. It’s the little things that are unforeseen maintenance. No matter the boat, for every hour of fishing, you have to spend that same time on maintenance and upkeep.

What makes a good fisherman?

There are so many different aspects these days and and to be good you have to have many different skills. Networking and communication is a big one. It’s a big ocean and you have to learn to locate the fish with information. Of course fishing instinct plays a part too. And probably today, the technical aspect. The ability read things like sea-surface temps and utilize the high tech equipment to have all of the information. The equipment is only as good as the operator using it.

Something nobody knows about you?

I am half Thai. Everyone who meets me either asks if I am Hawaiian, Chinese, or Puerto Rican, but I’m half Thai and half Irish.

Roy Huff Jr.

SALT

LOCATION:Jupiter, FL

Weez in the Keys


Craziest fish story?

When I was working as a first mate, a young lady asked me if I had ever fallen into the ocean, and I explained to her that I never had. A few minutes later, during my next trip to the bow, I fell in....A few minutes later, we hooked a giant 800lb. Mako Shark!

Who got you into fishing?

My Dad.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Hunting.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Natural Resource Manager for hunting.

Least favorite part of your job?

Losing a potential winning fish in a tournament.

What makes a good fisherman?

Giving a 110 % every single time you fish.

Something nobody knows about you?

I was a National Archery Champion at age 13yrs old.

Bo Johnson

SALT

LOCATION:Cape Coral, FL

Tenacity Guide Service


Craziest fish story?

Craziest story was the very rare opportunity when I handled a live 9ft. bull shark in the water for clients to get that photo of a lifetime. Afterwards, I swam him out 10+ ft. deep for the release – what a rush! What makes this story incredible is the fact it happened twice within a couple hours. After the 1st epic moment, the clients lost their camera (containing all their precious Father/Son vacation memories) overboard!!! So, it was my duty to make it happen again. The odds of this happening are super slim. Probably one of my greatest moments as a guide.

Who got you into fishing?

My Dad.

Where do you wish you were right now?

On a daisy chaining pod of tarpon at daylight without another boat in sight.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Hunting guide.

Least favorite part of your job?

Cleaning the boat.

What makes a good fisherman?

Someone with tenacity and drive to never give up, despite bad days on the water.

Something nobody knows about you?

I don’t like horses, or cats. Nothing personal—just don’t like them.

Deidra Johnson

SALT

LOCATION:Cape Coral, FL

Tenacity Guide Service


Craziest fish story?

For me, a couple experiences in intense weather stand out. Catching giant bull sharks offshore the Marquesas Keys (competing in the Outdoor Channel’s MadFinSharkSeries w my husband Capt. Bo Johnson) when a squall swallowed us. We made it out alive after being electro-shocked and stuffing a wave, having to bail the boat. But we brought home 1st place trophies in the end. Then there was catching my first sailfish in Guatemala while filming an episode of Breaking Boundaries for WFN in 8-10ft seas!!!! Talk about a mix of nausea and adrenaline. But we got it done. I think we choose one or the other here. Since Bo wrote about sharks I think we go with sailfish but up to you guys.

Who got you into fishing?

My daddy laid my freshwater roots. My husband, Bo, expanded my saltwater horizons.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Catching tuna off the shrimp boats offshore the Florida Keys.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Competing in 3D hunting archery competitions around the world.

Least favorite part of your job?

Temporarily not being on the water mating for our guide service or filming shows due to mommy duties has been a challenge. But motherhood is such a blessing, and there will be no greater reward than sharing the wonder and value of exploring the great outdoors with our future angling buddy.

What makes a good fisherman?

A humble, enthusiastic, passion to learn and always get better. Surrounding yourself with likeminded fishermen and seeking experiential learning opportunities outside of your comfort zone.

Something nobody knows about you?

I love playing basketball. I can sink basket after basket in the oval hoops at the fair.

Mike King

SALT

LOCATION:Carolina Beach, NC

Sea Hound


Craziest fish story?

Catching the state and US water 2008 record blue 1229 pounds.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Right now, I would be in the Dominican Republic because the fishing is on fire.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I am living the dream right now.

Least favorite part of your job?

Paperwork.

What makes a good fisherman?

Dedication.

Something nobody knows about you?

Used to get sea sick when I was a boy.

Dave Marciano

SALT

LOCATION:Beverley, MA

FV Hard Merchandise - Wicked Tuna


Craziest fish story?

Catching my largest blue fin tuna at 1200lbs before the show started with my 10-year-old son. It was the largest fish for both of us, so that was super special.

Who got you into fishing?

My uncle Joe use to take me bass fishing when I was little at a local pond. He passed away at 27 so I named my son after uncle Joe. He was a very special person in my life.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Fishing somewhere in New Zealand.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Bass player in a rock band.

Least favorite part of your job?

The paperwork associated with running the boat.

What makes a good fisherman?

Dedication and putting in your time.

Something nobody knows about you?

If I let my hair grow in it would be brown.

Joey Nania

FRESH/SALT

LOCATION:Cropwell, AL

APPEARS ON:Sweetwater TV


Craziest fish story?

There is nothing crazier than seeing the magic that happens when you see your own child become obsessed with fishing! I’ve already seen this with my son Zeke and I can already tell that little Eli will be no exception to the fishing passion that runs in the Nania blood! The best fish story was when Zeke caught a 37-inch musky on 12lb test with a weightless stick bait with no leader within the first hour of our family vacation off the same dock my family has been fishing off of for 65 years. We ran the musky up over the hill to the beach where my wife met us to help revive the fish and take pictures before we watched her swim away. I held the previous family record with a 34-inch musky at 6 years old and seeing my own son shatter my record made me shed tears of joy! 37 inches at 4 years old may never be beaten!

Who got you into fishing?

I was fortunate to grow up on a Lake in the state of Washington and my dad took me fishing for the first time at 2 weeks old, I’ve been Hooked ever since!

Where do you wish you were right now?

Hayward Wisconsin at our family cabins fishing for Musky and extremely uneducated bass!

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Definitely fishing! Honestly, I’ve always loved teaching and I feel like I would truly enjoy teaching as a profession. One of the best parts of my fishing career is teaching people how to catch more fish and how to enjoy every second on the water even more!

Least favorite part of your job?

When the fish aren’t eating as good as I want them to be!

What makes a good fisherman?

I think versatility and an open mind is the key to consistency, but the key to winning is a competitive edge that comes from an angler drive within!

Something nobody knows about you?

I’m pretty much an open book and I love sharing my life with others but many people don’t know that I couldn’t find my Huk underwear without my sweet wife Jessica and I am slightly addicted to watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix!

Brandon Palaniuk

FRESH

LOCATION:Coeur d'Alene, ID

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

My craziest fish story happened with a couple buddies of mine while fishing for lake trout in Idaho.  We were drop shotting in 180 feet of water when all of a sudden my buddy sets the hook and starts fighting what we think is a giant lake trout.  After about 20min of him fighting this thing we catch a glimpse of it and realize it’s not a lake trout.   Heck, it wasn't even a fish.  He had somehow dropped straight down on a 5-gallon bucket that had a tiny hole in the top and his drop shot weight went in that hole and then slid in a crack in the bucket.

Who got you into fishing?

My mother and grandfather got me into fishing early, but it was a family friend named Jeremy Tripp that took me bass fishing for the first time and introduced me to tournament fishing.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Lake Biwa, Japan throwing big swimbaits for bass!

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I would most likely be chasing a career in snowboarding or something to do with elk hunting.

Least favorite part of your job?

My least favorite part is the time spent away from family and friends at home.  I've met a ton of great people along the road that have become my "road family and friends", but I miss getting to see all those people that I grew up with

What makes a good fisherman?

A good fisherman has to have an open mind.  You can't get stuck doing the same things over and over again because as soon as you think you have them figured out the fish will do something that you never expected.

Something nobody knows about you?

I don't think there is anything that nobody knows about me at this point, but I would say there are probably few people that know I love to dance.

Chad Pipkens

FRESH

LOCATION:Lansing, MI

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

When I was in 11th grade I was surf fishing down on the National Sea Shore near New Smyrna Beach. I had an extra rod and wanted to try to catch a shark, so I got a big hook and put a big piece of a catfish on it. I tossed it out there a whopping 15 yards and ended up hooking a big shark about an hour later. It jumped and rolled a couple times just before it took off and spooled me and broke my steel leader clasp. That was pretty crazy.

Who got you into fishing?

Though I think it was mostly to help fill the frying pan. My good friend’s dad got me into tournament bass fishing. He was the one that took me to my first all day and first weeknight event. I was 16 years-old and we weighed a 15-oz bass in our first event. I was hooked.

Where do you wish you were right now?

It’s crazy cold and snowy up here right now? 80 degrees, a beach, and a drink in my hand sounds amazing anywhere.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

If I wasn’t chasing bass I would love to be playing professional golf. I am not great at it by any means but I really enjoy it. If I wasn’t fishing I would have a heck of a lot of time to be better around the greens! haha.

Least favorite part of your job?

The driving. We are part time fisherman and full-time truckers. The long hours and late-night driving can get pretty tiring. The destination, however, makes the drives worthwhile.

What makes a good fisherman?

Mental toughness and the ability to adapt and change with the fish and fishing conditions. We all find fish and know how to catch them. The difference is that the guys at the top of our sport are able to get to the right decision sooner than others. This results in less wasted time and more fishing the right baits and or the right places.

Something nobody knows about you?

I’m kind of a sales guy. I actually saved up money to buy my first aluminum boat by selling candy “Airheads” on the bus in 6th and 7th grade. I used to buy a 75-count box at Sam’s Club for $5 and then sell them for $.15 cents each or 2/$.25 on Friday. I turned that little margin into over $2,000 profit. My mom and dad matched what I had saved and I got my 15-foot Sea Nymph with a 25hp engine.

Skeet Reese

FRESH

LOCATION:Auburn, CA

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

I was fishing Clear Lake in February throwing a jerk bait. I hooked something big! Saw my line rising to the surface so I knew it was getting ready to jump... When it jumped I was confused...? It had big eyes, big teeth, four legs and a tail. It wound up being a big fresh water otter, ha! Fortunately, the hooks pulled out when I got it close to the boat, because I wasn’t going to grab it to get my bait back.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad took me fishing when I was a kid, and I caught my first bass when I was eight years-old. I was hooked from that point on.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Somewhere warm and where the fish are biting.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I’m living my dream. I do wish I could play golf like a pro, though.

Least favorite part of your job?

Without a doubt, it’s time away from the family that’s hard. Averaging more than 200 days on the road per year is rough.

What makes a good fisherman?

A good angler is one that pays attention to detail and is willing to try something different when something isn’t working.

Something nobody knows about you?

My favorite fast food is Taco Bell... it just doesn’t like me.

Ryan Riggs

SALT

LOCATION:Charleston, SC

Full Pull


Craziest fish story?

Catching a sword fish on the right long rigger while trolling for sailfish.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad got me into fishing and is still my fishing buddy until this day.

Where do you wish you were right now?

In a turn holding some white ones.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Harbor Pilot.

Least favorite part of your job?

Sitting at the dock when they are biting.

What makes a good fisherman?

Being prepared before the day of fishing and being prepared to adapt to whatever is thrown at you doing your day of fishing.

Something nobody knows about you?

I currently hold the SC state record Mahi.

Ross Robertson

FRESH

LOCATION:Port Clinton, OH

OCCUPATION:Guide


Craziest fish story?

That’s a long list, but probably working a 13.5lb walleye all the way up from bottom in 32 feet of water and eventually hooking him just a few feet below the ice, coming off in the hole, then lipping and pinning him in the hole as it shredded my hand.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad was an ultimate outdoorsman, but hunting was his main deal and passion. After a fishing trip or two at age 6, I was hooked.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Right where I am, successfully making a good living in the fishing industry.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Sounds cheesy, but I am living it.

Least favorite part of your job?

At times, best part of the job is the people, worst part of it can be the people. But bad weather is always hard on gear, fishing and the body.

What makes a good fisherman?

Passion, paying attention to what’s happening, hard work and a never quit attitude.

Something nobody knows about you?

No secrets, I’m an open book…I wear it on my sleeve and speak it like it is.

Rob Skillman

SALT

45

LOCATION:Ocean City, MD


Craziest fish story?

Was trolling for white marlin in the Poormans canyon and a swordfish pops up in front of us. The tail had been just bitten off. We went over and gaffed it and a huge mako swims by. We cut off a chunk of sword tail and pulled out an 80 with a shark rig on it and threw it in the water. Mako inhales the bait and we get spooled with 34lbs of drag.

Who got you into fishing?

My pop and grandfather.

Where do you wish you were right now?

I don't have to wish, I'm there now.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Red stag guide in New Zealand.

Least favorite part of your job?

Fixing the head.

What makes a good fisherman?

Fishing every day and your crew.

Something nobody knows about you?

Can't tell you, then everyone will know.

Nicole Jacobs
Stemlach

FRESH

LOCATION:Ocean City, MD

FISHING FOR:Bass FLW


Craziest fish story?

I have so many! One story I’ll never forget was when we were practicing for the FLW BFL Wild Card on Kentucky Lake. Three of us were practicing. First, I nailed my buddy in the head with a spinner bait, then we got stuck on a shell bed and had no phone service and failed at getting the boat off ourselves. Miraculously a Tow Boat got us off at dusk. We then had to creep our way back from Paris, KY to the Kentucky Dam with no spot light. We made it back safely, Praise God.

Who got you into fishing?

My Father was the one who got me into fishing. The time we spent on the water created a deep father/daughter bond and instilled that passion for fishing. After his death to cancer in 2012, it fueled my entire career in Professional Bass Fishing. He’s always with me on the water!

Where do you wish you were right now?

I wish I was on my new Alumacraft XB 200 bass fishing in the south and near a beach!

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.  However, doing Missionary work or Athletic Training for a football team are other passions of mine.

Least favorite part of your job?

My least favorite part of my job is being gone from my kids and husband for long periods of time. At the end of the day, my faith and family come first then fishing. It’s all about a healthy balance.

What makes a good fisherman?

I believe a good fisherman is well rounded and grounded. They put their family and faith first then fishing. While on the water, a good fisherman is versatile, driven by ambition, strong mentally, makes the best decisions, and is a role model to others.

Something nobody knows about you?

I am 1/2 Lebanese decent. I was raised with strong Christian Lebanese roots and love cooking Lebanese food!

Gerald "Gman"
Swindle

FRESH

LOCATION:Guntersville, AL

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

I went to Japan for a media shoot and found a deceased person in the grass.

Who got you into fishing?

My father and my grandfather.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Tent Camping somewhere remote.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

Game Warden or Fire Fighter.

Least favorite part of your job?

Airport Travel.

What makes a good fisherman?

Determination.

Something nobody knows about you?

I’m an open book.

Kevin VanDam

FRESH

LOCATION:Kalamazoo, MI

OCCUPATION:Bass Elite


Craziest fish story?

My boys and I went saltwater fishing for Goliath grouper and sharks all in the same day and caught a goliath and several large shark species in Boca Grande, Florida.

Who got you into fishing?

My dad took me ice fishing at my grandparents in Michigan when I was 3-year olds. He had a lot of patience in teaching me how to fish being as young as I was.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Anywhere in the woods or on the water with my family.

Dream job if you weren't fishing?

I would want to be a professional hunter.

Least favorite part of your job?

The travel and time away from home.

What makes a good fisherman?

The ability to adapt and overcome when fishing changes. Being open minded and in tune with your surroundings. Being aware and using your instinct.

Something nobody knows about you?

I make really good duck, dog, and cat noises when kids are around. Quacking, barking, meowing you name it I can do it. They are fooled every time I make these noises and think there’s actually an animal around.

Willie Zimmerman

SALT - Offshore

LOCATION:Ocean City, MD

Absolute Pleasure


Craziest fish story?

One that really sticks out in my head is when we won the OC Tuna Tournament in 2013. We had about an hour left in the tournament and we got hooked up to a big eye tuna where we were in the middle of a fleet of 50-60 boats. The fish really stretched us out but luckily, we were not cut off by any other boats, we got the fish straight up and down then the battle was on. Just when we thought we were in the clear, orange lobster balls started showing up. we dodged about seven of them before the fish started to drag us out over the edge. We fought the big eye tuna for two-and-a-half hours before we were able to stick two gaffs into it. Then the race was on, by this time we only had about two-and-a-half hours before the scales closed, but we made it in with a just few minutes to spare. The big eye ended up weighing 257 lbs. and we took first place.

Who got you into fishing?

My father.

Where do you wish you were right now?

Somewhere warm.

Least favorite part of your job?

Having to go down in the engine room to do an oil change after fishing all day.

What makes a good fisherman?

Someone that can read the water and stay on the bite.

Something nobody knows about you?

My favorite movie is Sweet Home Alabama.

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