The age old question… Why are the same guys always at the top. Always cashing cheques. Always so consistent. What are they doing that I am not! Well pay attention to this one. Because these guys finish well for the following reasons. It’s not luck.. And its not a “secret bait”. It is raw talent and the willingness to put the time in on and of the water to find the winning pattern. Exist To Fish Canada spoke with 2014 Top Bass Classic Champions Travis Vivian and TJ Lacey to unlock the secrets to their stellar season and oh so consistent results.
Travis Vivian is a 24 years old Oshawa Ontario native. He started fishing at the young age of 2 years old at the green wing derby in Peterborough Ontario, which is where his fishing addiction all started. Since then he has spent every free moment he has to go catch fish weather it’s on a boat, standing on river banks catching trout and salmon, or on the ice. Throughout the years he has spent most of his time fishing with his dad and close friends Cory and Chris Johnston. Cory and Chris have been competing in fishing tournaments for over 15 years now and it is because of them that Travis started fishing competitively. “Just seeing how much fun and excitement they have before heading out to a tournament made me want to get into it”. Travis has only been competing for four years now, and in that short time he has accomplished a fair bit! His first year of competitive angling was partnered with Lynn Johnston (father of Cory and Chris) They competed in the CSFL. They registered for a total of four tournaments that year, 3 of them on Bay of Quinte and one on Rice Lake. Out of those 4 they had two top tens and accumulated enough point to qualify for the classic on Rideau fairy. When the time came for them to fish the classic they went to Smith Falls and spent a week pre fishing, in that week they came up with a pattern that they believed would get them a descent limit of 5 bass each day just hoping to make top 10 so they could pay for hotel gas and food for the week. The pattern they found was shallow flat bays 8 to 10ft with sparse weeds and they would throw surface baits and run spinner baits through them. In pre fish they never caught any really big fish with this pattern but quality fish ranging 2 to 4 pounds, largemouth and small mouth bass. After the first day they were sitting in 2nd place with 17lbs, which made them feel pretty confident about the fish they had found during practice. The second day they came in with 16lbs and that moved them into 1st place heading into the last and final day. So day three rolls around and they had been fishing the same spots for two days hard so the fish have become less and less. As a result they could barely manage their 5 fish limit. When it came time to weigh their fish, to their surprise they had managed 15lbs! enough to win the tournament by 1 ounce! That was the greatest moment in Travis’ fishing career to date.. Travis and Lynn won a $40,000.00 voucher for Lund boats! “just knowing how much work we put into finding the fish prior to the event and seeing it all come together there was no greater feeling then that”. Since that huge win he has been competing every summer in local tournaments in the kawartha region and couldn’t imagine not be a part of the amazing atmosphere of all the best anglers from around our province. Through the last couple years Travis has teamed up with a childhood friend TJ Lacey. They have been fishing in the Top-Bass series and have done fairly well for themselves! They finished in the top ten in the classic of 2013 on Rice Lake, and won the 2014 Classic on the Tri-lakes. The pair had an amazing year in 2014 with multiple top tens and a couple wins!
“Some reasons to our success last year was that we each took time out of our regular full time jobs to go out and spend time on the lakes finding fish before each tournament. Before each tournament we will look at what the weather has been like (air temp. lake surface temp) are a really big part in what the fish will be doing. For example if the temperatures have been mid 20’s all week but there is a cold front coming in for the weekend, we know it is extremely important to try and find fish that are on a weed edge in 8 to 12 feet of water because they are less effected by the cold. The fish that are up shallow will shut down and not be active or feeding, which is what happened in the 2014 classic all the fish we caught were in the deeper water and were willing to bite. Another key element that is very important to success in tournament fishing is just simply time on the water, I cannot stress enough to how important it is! You need to be able to cover as much of the lake as you can fishing up shallow under docks and trees, outside
weed edges in deeper water and try and find where the bigger fish are more concentrated that way you can greaten your odds of catching bigger fish when the tournament day comes. Couple of the main lures we use during pre-fish are spinner baits, surface baits such as a pop-r, and an old classic jig with a trailer. There isn’t much secrets to be had its just being able to have time on the water to find where the fish are. For me time on the water is hard at times I work in Mississauga full time Monday to Friday, but I am fortunate that my partner TJ lives in Peterborough where most of our tournament are ran out of and he has the ability to go out after work and spend time on the water finding fish. We currently have three sponsors and are very grateful for them Triton Boats, Ranger Boats for providing us with fully rigged boats to use each year, if it wasn’t for them we defiantly would not be doing the amount of fishing and tournaments each year and truly blessed that they give us the opportunity to do what we love. The other new sponsor we currently have is Coho apparel they are a new all Canadian made clothing line that provide us with a full line of clothing to wear for all of our fishing needs”.
TJ Lacey is a 21 year old native of Bridgenorth Ontario. And as previously stated a life long friend to his tournament partner Travis. TJ will fish every chance he can get, whether it’s after work or during the weekends. He has been fishing for as long as he can remember. The first experience that stands out in memory is going to the green wing events in Peterborough Ontario with his dad, Travis, Chris and Cory Johnston. His true passion is fishing for bass, but he does enjoy fishing for crappie and walleye in the spring to pass the time until the bass season opens. He also enjoys fishing for Muskie with his boss Chris Huskilson. His work allows him to the be on the water as much as possible to locate where the fish are setting up and what lures they are biting so that He and Travis can catch them tournament day. TJ decided to enter the bigger events down in Wisconsin two years ago. It wasn’t so much the big prize that drew him there, it was hearing how great the fishing was and he wasn’t disappointed. Pre Fish presented days with over 100 smallmouth from 3-5 pounds.
“My dad was the one who got me started in fishing tournaments. We entered my first fishing tournament when I was 8 and we won big fish in that event and I’ve been hooked ever since. What I like most about fishing is that you never stop learning out on the water. There’s always something to learn about the fish whether its their seasonal patterns or what they’re eating. I also really enjoy the competition that comes with fishing tournaments. By far the most rewarding feeling that comes with fishing is when you find the big fish during the pre fish then you are able to stick to your plan and win the tournament. I think about tournaments all of the time. Thinking what we could have done differently to get the bigger bites in past events, or what we could do for next year. Not a day goes by that I am not thinking about fishing.
How do you prepare when Fishing unfamiliar waters? –”When fishing a lake for the first time We like to go and focus on trying to find structure that we have a lot of success on from other lakes.”
What are your Top three techniques for catching big bass?
- “Flipping jig – known for catching huge bass”
- “Spinnerbait – it’s a great search bait for finding roaming fish”
- “Tube – We have caught some of our biggest smallmouth on tubes”
How do you properly pre fish? – “When pre fishing a lot of guys will go and fish spots they always fish and not new spots, when we pre fish we always like to find new spots that could potentially be holding more and bigger fish than the old ones. Most of the time we do not use hooks, when you use a hook and you catch a big fish right before the tournament the chances of catching that fish again are very slim.”
What are your recommendations? “For people just starting out, don’t get discouraged by not placing well right of the start, everyone has been there. It takes years and lots of time on the water to figure out proper techniques and how the fish move seasonally.”
What is next? Travis and TJ have a summer full of tournaments with hopes of great finishes in the CSFL and Top Bass circuits.
Who are your sponsors? and what do they provide you with? “Our sponsors include Ranger Boats, Triton Boats, Shimano, GLoomis and COHO Apparel. Travis and I get to run a boat from Ranger and Triton for the summer. COHO Apparel provides us with clothing.”
So there you have it! The guys that win and consistently place have unlocked the secret! Cracked the code! And how have they done so? By spending weeks and weeks on the water, without hooks, catching none of the fish that they locate until the day of the event. That takes commitment! That takes patience! and that takes self sacrifice! TIME ON THE WATER!!!!! And that my friends, is what it takes to win!!
Be sure to Follow Travis and TJ this 2015 Bass season!! Good Luck! and Tight Lines from your friends here at Exist To Fish Canada.