Roughly four feet of snow currently blankets the front yard of 2019 FLW Tour angler Charles Sim in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. The blustery conditions have given the computer programmer some time to digest the first two FLW Tour stops of the season and reflect on an admittedly unexpected fast start.
Sim finished in 10th place in the FLW Tour opener on a swollen Sam Rayburn in early January. Less than a month later, he recorded a 50th place finish on Florida’s Lake Toho. With back-to-back quality finishes, he finds himself in 16th place in the FLW Tour Angler Of the Year race with 342 points.
In 2009 and 2011, Sim fished in 11 FLW Tour events, competing for a full season during the 2009 season and fishing in five Tour stops in 2011. He cashed two checks totaling $25,500. Through two Tour stops in 2019 he has nearly equaled that total ($24,000).
In 2016, Sim represented the B.A.S.S. Nation in the Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake, becoming only the second Canadian angler ever to cross the Classic stage. He failed to make the final day cut and finished the tournament in 31st place, but his Classic experience reignited his passion for competition and desire to compete at the highest level.
He signed up for the 2018 Costa FLW Series Northern Division with the goal of qualifying for the 2019 FLW Tour and ended up finishing in 11th place in the AOY standings thanks to a career high 3rd place finish on Lake Erie out of Buffalo last July.
As is the case with fellow Canadians fishing on either the FLW Tour or Elite Series, Sim’s travel schedule is arduous. He is keeping his rig in a storage unit during the season in the States and flying home in between Tour stops. Outside of his Bassmaster Classic experience on Grand Lake and the final Tour stop of the season on Lake Champlain, he entered the season with no experience on the powerhouse fisheries on the schedule.
“I did a lot of research prior to the start of the season on Sam Rayburn this year and I headed down there loaded up on traps (lipless crankbaits) and ready to rip some hydrilla. When I got down there, the water was so crazy high that I couldn’t even get the trap to touch the hydrilla,” he explained. “I scrambled a bit and just started covering water. On the second day of practice, I was fishing my way down a drain where I could see hydrilla and see fish on top of it on the graph. I put on a 6XD crankbait and caught fish on back-to-back casts.”
Unable to duplicate the pattern elsewhere, Sim stuck with the area for the duration of the tournament and slung the big plug. “I didn’t expect to make the Top 30, let alone the Top 10,” he allowed. “It’s so ironic how I did it by camping on one spot throwing a deep-diving crankbait, because I’m known as a guy who runs-and-guns and I don’t think that I’ve caught a fish on a crankbait in Canada in 12 years,” he stated with a laugh. “We just don’t throw them up here because by the time we are fishing, the spawn is done and the largemouth are usually hunkered down in the grass and it’s more close-contact fishing.”
At Toho, Sim was looking forward to sight fishing. By the end of practice he had one reed patch and a handful of bed fish. “I caught a lot of my keepers out of that reed patch, but I think that I fished it too fast. In retrospect, I think there was a fish spawning at the base of every reed clump.”
A self-described “numbers junkie”, Sim said that he has amassed a spread sheet laying out the average finishes he’ll need in the remaining Tour stops to qualify for the 2019 Forrest Wood Cup. “Hopefully I’m in a good position by the time the final stop of the season on Champlain rolls around,” stated Sim, who lives three hours from Champlain and finished in 11th place on the fishery during the 2009 FLW Tour season.
With FLW requiring all Tour level competitors to record their competition days, Sim decided to take advantage of the footage and create a YouTube video series documenting his return season to the Tour (search Charles Sim on YouTube).
“I love watching other anglers’ videos, and I’m as much a fan as I am a competitor,” he explained. “I have a lot of friends and fans here in Canada that I want to bring on the journey and show them what it’s like. I have the content, so I might as well use it,” he concluded.