By Jonathan LePera
Special to BassFan
With two Bassmaster Elite Series wins under his belt, Justin Lucas has found his groove at the sport’s top level. While victories are hard to come by, his success was by design.
He points to how other fellow Western anglers like Cody Meyer, Aaron Martens, Skeet Reese, Brett Hite and Brent Ehrler have had success competing outside California. He attributes that to the diversity of the fisheries in the Golden State from which they all learned, not to mention their use of electronics to find fish and dissect structure.
“One weekend flipping we’d be at the Delta, the next throwing a dropshot in 70 feet of water in Lake Oroville or fishing smallmouth on the Columbia River,” Lucas said. “The hard part about the East Coast is there’s a lot of the same bodies of water within a few hours of each other. Same with the Midwest. It’s hard to get out of the comfort zone because it’s a big drive to go somewhere different that’s going to lay something new out for you.”
Below is Lucas’ 8-Step Plan For Success:
Put Yourself in Unfamiliar Situations
In 2010, Lucas got serious about his career and moved to Lake Guntersville. The Tennessee River is a great hub for tournament action. Ledge fishing was totally foreign to him and if his career was to have any longevity, he had some work to do. The proximity of Smith Lake and the Coosa River chain, both spotted bass havens, coupled with the diversity of Guntersville and the TVA system, represented the only area other than Northern California to help him become a better all-around fisherman.
When he started fishing the Bassmaster Opens in 2013, expanding his knowledge of unfamiliar territory was the goal. He never fished a Southern Open that year.
“I lived in Alabama, but I fished the Central and the Northern Opens – the two divisions furthest from here,” he said. “That was shallow, dirty muddy rivers on the Central side and up North it was deeper smallmouth fishing on Oneida and Lake Erie and some of the East Coast. Every place I fished that year was a place I’d never been with the exception of the James River.”
The result: Three top-10 finishes and an invitation to the Elite Series.