toadWhen it comes to co-angling one of the best in the business has got to be National Guard Pro Justin Lucas.  Justin, at the young age of 23, has amassed over $ 200,000 dollars in winnings in FLW tournaments in just three years fishing mainly from the back of the boat. He has four FLW Western Series wins as well as a win on the Western Stren Series as a co-angler.  I had the opportunity to catch up with Justin to try and figure out what he has been doing to stay on top of his game.

I asked Justin what he does to prepare for a tournament as a co-angler.  Justin says that when he is competing as a co he goes about it in the same way as if he was fishing as a professional.  Before he hits the water he takes a look at the time of year and what fish should be doing. He then takes a look at water clarity, temperature, and what type of bait fish are in the lake. He wants to know all the basics so he can start to get an idea of what to expect. He says that since you don’t have to worry about finding spots you need to focus on finding the best bait for the lake at that time. He often will search through previous tournament results and articles on the lake for that time of the year to try and figure out what types of colors work the best or what baits have been the most successful.
He is looking to see what type of baits get used the most on average to win tournaments on that lake. He wants to know the best deep diving crankbait for the lake; he wants to know the best bait to flip with if the situation comes up.

I asked him for an explanation as to why he has been so successful? He believes that his success is in a large part due to the preparation he takes as well as his mental toughness and attitude throughout the day. He talked about how in order to compete at a higher level you have to always be focused on every cast and believe that the fish are there. One fish can make all the difference in making a top ten and getting to fish the final day.  No matter if you only have a cast or two left he says that you have got to stay focused and finish the day. It was in the National Guard Western Division Series on the California Delta back in 2008 that on the last cast of
the second day that Justin caught the big bass of the tournament a 13lb 9oz lunker, to cull out a 12 inch fish to jump from 69th place into 11th place. He ultimately placed 8th in the tournament.

When Justin fishes out of the back of the boat he almost always tries to do something different than his boater. He said that often times it is best for you to try and not compete with the boater for the same class of fish. If he is fishing for 4lbers you need to try and figure out how to catch the 2lbers. He says that he believes that if he can do something different and find a way to catch a different class of fish than what his boater is targeting then his chances of doing well are a lot better. If his boater is throwing a t- rig or a jig he might throw a weightless plastic or a drop shot. One of his tips is to always keep the bait wet. One of the biggest problems is if you start
rooting through your tackle more than fishing. He says a lot of times you will out fish your boater by just being more efficient. Plenty of times his boaters have been frustrated when he is knocking them dead by just dragging a rig behind the boat.

Justin’s most successful bait has been a drop shot rig.  He has the most confidence in this setup and has caught fish from 2 feet deep to 80 feet deep in his tournaments. One of his favorite baits for the drop is a Jackal Flick Shake Worm in green pumpkin candy. If Justin was limited to just four other baits to take with him to fish all across the country he would have a shakeyhead tied on with a Berkley Slim Shakeyhead Worm in green pumpkin, a football jig, some sort of Lucky Craft Crankbait, and some sort of smaller swimbait like a Berkley Hollow Belly. When it comes to tackle Justin tries to carry a wide variety of baits that he feels he has confidence in but he might only have about two to three colors. He will only fish with baits that he knows catch fish and he has a lot of confidence in.

I asked him if there is anything that you can do as a co-angler to try and manage your boater to get onto more fish if your boater is struggling. He said that there is nothing you can really do about that as a co-angler because the rules often forbid a co-angler from doing that.  He says that most lakes though have fish all over them and that you need to keep a positive attitude and believe the fish are around you.  Even if he knows that he is in a dead area, he still forces himself believe that if there are any fish in the area at all, he is going to catch them. He says having that mindset has allowed him stay in contention on numerous occasions.

In 2010 Justin will fish the FLW Western Series as a boater, the FLW Tour as a co-angler, and some Stren Series events as a boater.  Justin has a website too where you can keep up to date on his tournament finishes as well as his upcoming events.