MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING

DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

SPRAGUE'S BREAKOUT SEASON

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 07/29/2016

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos courtesy of FLW Communications

Moore, OK - In November of 2015, BASS TALK LIVE interviewed FLW Tour pro Jeff Sprague.  At the time of the interview, Sprague was preparing to compete in his third season as a professional angler.

Towards the end of the BASS TALK LIVE interview, he talked about his progression as an FLW Tour pro during his first two years at the front of the boat.  He also touched on the importance of bringing everything together during his third season (which had yet to start at the time of the interview).  

“At the level we fish, FLW or B.A.S.S., you can’t have a bad day,” said Sprague in the November, 2015 interview.  “The first year on tour, you’re just trying to tread water to see where you fit in.  The second year, you’re starting to make decisions that you wouldn’t have made the first year because you’ve become more comfortable.  

“Your junior (third) year is when you get a lot more comfortable and you make decisions on the fly,” he continued. “That’s when you wind up making your money and that’s when you make the decisions to win.   It doesn’t necessarily go off of your practice – you’re able to go and fish the fish and not just what you fished in practice.  That’s a huge deal.”

CLICK HERE to watch the BTL show with Sprague’s interview.  The interview begins at the 24-minute mark.

After fishing as a co-angler on the FLW Tour from 2011-2013 (and finishing inside the Top 10 in the co-angler AOY standings twice), Sprague’s junior year fishing as an FLW Tour pro in 2016 was undoubtedly his best.  He finished in 6th place in the final FLW Tour AOY standings and qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup.  

After four regular season tournaments, he was leading the FLW Tour Angler Of the Year standings thanks to four consecutive Top 15 finishes.  

He started the season with a 15th place finish on Okeechobee in March and a 13th place finish on Hartwell in April.  The streak continued with a 3rd place finish on Beaver Lake – his highest finish in his three years as an FLW Tour pro.  The following month, he finished in 14th place on Pickwick Lake.   

The Texas pro cooled off in the final two stops of the regular season, finishing in 71st place on Kentucky Lake and 57th place on Lake Champlain.  Overall, it was stellar campaign for Sprague, who finished the season just 51 points behind AOY champion Andy Morgan.  

The BASS ZONE recently caught up with Sprague as he drove from his home in Texas to begin practice for the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup on Alabama’s Wheeler Lake that begins on August 4th.  

“This past season, a lot of things went in the right direction for me,” he stated.  “A lot of little things have to happen and come together for a guy to really have a good season and make a run at the AOY title.”

He said that it didn’t really sink in that he was having a special season until he took of the AOY lead midway through.  “You have to accept the role that you build for yourself,” he explained. “By no means did I go into the season knowing that I’d make a run at the title.  I’ve looked up to a lot of the guys that I compete against since I started bass fishing.  Once I took the lead, I was like, ‘OK, I still look up to these guys and I still admire them, but now maybe it’s time for me to notch out my spot and start trying to solidify myself in this sport.”

A chance interaction with one of the legends in the sport really drove the point home for Sprague. “I can remember an instance when I was walking down the dock to my boat before starting the day, and several of the other anglers congratulated me on the year that I was having as I walked past them.  I said thanks, and then I said something along the lines of, ‘I’m just getting lucky.’    Larry Nixon was sitting in his boat, and when I said that, he looked up and said, ‘I don’t think that it’s luck.  You make your own luck in this game.’  

“To have someone like Larry Nixon throw that advice out there and say something like that, it really sunk in.  There’s no doubt that there’s a little luck involved, but there’s a lot of truth to the statement that you make your own luck in this game.”

Making his own luck this past season included a lot of fishing off script – something that he talked about during his BTL interview prior to the start of the year.  “In almost all of the Top 20 finishes that I had, I spent at least one or two tournament days fishing new water or doing something different than what I’d done in practice,” Sprague explained.  

He’s taking the same mentality into the Forrest Wood Cup.  “By the end of Cup practice, I’ll have to make a decision based on what I’ve found.  I’ll either decide to run everything that I found, or I’ll decide to scrap everything that I did during practice and continue to practice during the tournament until I find the fish that I think I need to win.”  

Sprague said that he recently picked up 6th Sense Lure Company over the course of the season, and is hoping the lures could play at the Cup.  “I want to do well at the Cup, but at the end of the day, not many people can tell you who got 3rd place last year.  You have to give yourself a chance and take some risks to fish for the right fish that will win the tournament.”