EDITOR: Our own Nick Ferry will be fishing the BFL Northeast Division. This is the first in a series taking a behind the scenes look at his first year on this FLW trail.
Folks at home, Folks at home! Nick Ferry, aka The People’s Champ, is preparing for the FLW Bass Fishing League tournament series. iBass360 will be following Nick throughout the season to get his take on how things are going. We caught up with him last weekend for the first round of Q&A
Editor: There are a lot of tournament series out there, why did you decide on the FLW BFL?
Nick: I decided to fish the BFL Northeast Division for a couple reasons. First, the FLW BFL fee structure doesn’t break the bank. Entry fees are $250 per tournament with one 2-day tournament on Champlain at $350 bringing the total to $1,350. A tournament series has to recognize that an angler also has hotels and food, not to mention the time and expense of practice. So, for the average angler trying to get a toe hold in this industry, this is the middle of the road. The second reason the BFL caught my attention is the fisheries where they hold events. The Potomac River, Oneida Lake, Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence Seaway/1000 Islands, with a Regional event on the Susquehanna Flats. These are all great fisheries, and I have really wanted to fish different areas. The Regional tournament on the Susquehanna Flats is right in my wheelhouse. If I accumulate enough points and do well on the Flats, that should help me make it to the All American. Do well at the All American and that would give me a chance to fish the dream for $100,000 and a chance to fish the FLW Tour. Some may call me unrealistic but my dream is to become a professional tournament angler.
Editor: The first tournament is on the Potomac River. This is a tidal fishery that has a lot of bass but they are known to be finicky. How are you approaching this body of water?
Nick: Well, a lot will depend on water temps and weather conditions. The fish there will be in pre-spawn and should be eating after the winter. As long as there is steady weather, I will be looking for bass near shallow flats with a hard bottom that are close to deep water wintering holes. If these areas have some fresh emerging weeds, so much the better. Under these conditions, the fish will hit a bait which moving to that warming water on the flat. I will be looking for these areas on a falling tide which will be bringing warmer water from the back waters and congregate the bait in smaller area.
Editor: What bait presentations and what type of fishing will be your “go to” under these conditions?
Nick: As far as baits go, I will be start by throwing the classic spring baits- mostly moving baits like the JaKKed Baits SKKaterbait bladed jig, Forage Lures 1.5 Crankbait and their lipless rattle bait. I also expect to have situations where I will throw swimbaits like Zee Baits Swimmer, and the JaKKed swim jig with a trailer like the Strike King Rage Craw. I will prepare one of the appropriate Kistler rods in my arsenal, which are paired with Ardent reels and spooled with Seaguar line- especially with the appropriate length fluoro leader.
Editor: Do you have particular tricks for your boat organization for tournaments?
Nick: I have found that organization for tournaments is key! I usually pack whatever I can fit in my truck and have a little of everything in a couple of well labeled boxes. I rig a rod with each of the different type of lure I intend to use. Hopefully, buy tourney day, I will be dialed in with just a couple of rods and a couple of boxes, that way I am ready to go. I will have my Ardent cull clips in the well ready for my fish after I weigh them with the scale I keep ready on my console. I never want to keep a fish out of water too long. If I need to re-tie I have clippers in a tray right next to my deck. I just drop the power pole, re-tie, and bang, I’m back fishing. If I have baits tied on to separate rods there is less of a need for re-tying, so I save time. In short, I try to have everything ready by game day so I am fishing and not looking for what I need amidst a pile of tackle and rods.
Nick: In all seriousness, my goal for this season is to cash a check at each event, and qualify for the All American. Given this is my first full year on this tour, I know I will be fishing against a lot of experienced, local sticks. Therefore, I know I must be realistic. Normally I would set my expectations on a top 3 for a club tournament but I’m sure I will be happy with a top 20 finish. I figure that is attainable in a field of 125-175 boats. I will approach this like any athlete approaches a game in his/her sport- be MENTALLY PREPARED THROUGH PRACTICE! I KNOW I can’t practice on each body of water for weeks at a time, but what I can do, and have already started doing, is studying each body of water, tide tables, contour maps, seasonal patterns from past tournaments (including tournaments I’ve fished on similar bodies of water), and research the preferred baits and natural forage at the particular time of year I will be on each body of water. I study my n\Navionics maps so that when I actually go to the particular lake/river, I know what I’m looking at and can even add to the details on the map. I make sure I have a bunch of places marked in advance so I can maximize time eliminating dead water and finding productive areas. So even in the off season I am already working on my mental preparedness for the coming season.
Nick: To be ready for the Potomac I study the tides, practice the tides, and hopefully, have the tides down to a “T” for my prospective spots. By tournament day I should know at exactly what tide those big green fish are feeding/ biting the best for all parts of the river I plan to fish.
Editor: Will you have a co-angler? How does that impact your tournament approach?
Nick: More than likely I will have a co-angler in the event. As a boater, I am not competing against the co-angler, my goal is to catch the 5 largest fish I can. Let’s face it, even though I have first cast at the fish in front of me, it does not mean I will catch them. Sometimes a fish needs a couple casts or a different presentation to bite. Therefore, I must make every cast count. Although some people find a co- angler a hindrance, I find co-anglers helpful. If I’m not getting bit, and my co is, I going to be watching what they’re using and then do that. If I start catching then I will actually try to fine tune that presentation.
It should not be a surprise that I like people, so I enjoy getting to meet different people, and learn different things. There is
also the safety aspect- it’s always good to have someone around in case something goes wrong. Finally, I love to help people and share my knowledge. By having someone in my boat that may not have as much experience as I do, I’m able to teach them a few things, not to mention that I may actually learn something myself. Lord knows I don’t know everything, just ask my wife!
Editor: Is there a particular tournament you are most looking forward to fish?
Nick: Of course, I have to qualify for it, but I consider the Upper Chesapeake/ Susquehanna Flats to be my home water. I absolutely love fishing there. It fits my style of fishing, and I really believe I have a good chance of placing well and qualifying for the All American if I can fish the Regional there.
I am really looking forward to representing iBass360 and all my sponsors and doing them proud Living the Passion!
iBass360 Pro staff Nick Ferry is a “people person”. He has an engaging personality that lives up to his billing as “The People’s Champ”. Nick has been a very successful club angler with both the Peace Valley Bass Anglers and the Bucks County Anglers Club who is now taking that experience to the BFL. Nick is Pro Staff for Ardent Reels, Kistler Rods, Zee Baits, Forage Lures, JaKKed Baits and Seaguar Line. Nick is becoming a regular contributor to the iBass360 Blog.