Editor: Jamie Hartman has been one of the bright stars and hot sticks on the BASSMASTER Elite Series tour in 2019. His wins at Guntersville and Cayuga were “must see” streaming. Although he was not among the top finishers at Tenkiller, he is expected to be a force on the smallmouth factory at St. Clair. Our pro staff Misty Schmidt and Kevin Carwile touched base with Jamie recently to get his insights into this year’s tournament scene and his fishing.
iBass360: Do you have a favorite style of fishing and have you been able to employ it to your advantage this season?
Jamie: I like to fish deep, that's often what I plan to do, but that's not always the way it goes down. On Guntersville, my favorite style was thrown out the window pretty much, which made me fish shallow - ironically my least favorite.
iBass360: What bodies of water on the circuit this year did you feel were particularly conducive to your style of fishing?
Jamie: The St. Lawrence River certainly was. Cayuga turned out to be. I've learned that my style is catching fish and if I am going to succeed, I must try to adapt to the environment I am fishing on any particular weekend. I've slowly moved away from my wheelhouse, "go-to" type fishing, because I learned quickly that sometimes it just isn't what will produce in that moment
iBass360: From a bait perspective, what were the keys to your success on Guntersville?:
Jamie: A 4-inch Riot Baits Fuzzy Beaver in blue steel, rigged on 5/0 Owner Jungle Flippin' Hook with 1.25-ounce weight was absolutely key. I also used a drop shot set-up with a new 4.75-inch Riot Baits Synth Worm on a 1/0 Owner all-purpose worm hook and 3/8- ounce pencil weight. Another producer was a 3/4-ounce custom football jig with a green pumpkin 3.75-inch Riot Baits R Craw trailer. When I caught them on top, it was with a bone-colored walking bait.
iBass360: Moving to some broader questions about our industry- how did you work your way up to the big leagues? What were your keys to success and what advice would you give to anglers looking to try the same?
Jamie: I worked my way up through the system- Club fishing, FLW BFL's, the B.A.S.S. State Federation, and Bassmaster Opens, which, in the end, helped me qualify for the Elites. I knew I was competitive at the Open level, and at that moment, I believed I had to do everything in my power to get to the Elites. It's the pinnacle of an angler's goals and achievements. I knew that I
would need to put my head down and learn about each fishery as much as I could. This means spending time on the water. I lived on the road and pre-practiced as much as I could. I don't mean tugging on them either, my goal was to learn what I could find beneath the surface. I put a lot of pressure on my Lowrance Units.
iBass360: What sacrifices have you had to make along the way? Would you say this is the area weekend warriors understand the least and need to?
Jamie: I think the most important thing here is to know that to go from A to Z you have many, many steps. Some won't make it to Z because the sacrifices will not outweigh the potential reward. I'm just really hungry. I've been on this roller-coaster - I know what it's like to be at rock bottom and now I know what it's like to stand on the platform and hoist a trophy. I can tell you, experiencing both ends of the spectrum - I definitely prefer the latter. Honestly, though, both are completely humbling. I think everyone knows it takes a lot of drive and work. What they don’t understand is that it takes everything you can give, you either have it in you or you don't.
iBass360: What approach did you take to lining up sponsors and using social media? What
advice can you give us?
Jamie: I have very supportive friends, family and industry relationships- that has been the foundation to get going. I can only share products, brands and Companies that I can really stand behind. I think partnerships are extremely important, not only to offset costs, but to prove my value to them and the product’s value to the consumer. There's always room to grow and there are so many opportunities out there. I realized that there is a lot of value placed in social media outlets these days and in having an online presence, but I also know that I need to catch fish. You can have a really strong following, but if you can't catch’em, that presence only goes so far.
iBass360: How do you like your AOY chances? What would a high finish do for you and your sponsorships?
Jamie: I've had to dig myself out of a big hole from the first two events of the season so I'm very pleased to be sitting where I'm at now. I want to fish St. Clair and I am definitely hoping to make the Classic
iBass360: Any thoughts about the Bass Pro Tour? What is your overall reaction to the first year of three major series? Who do you think has been helped, hurt?
Jamie: No comment on the BPT, but I think the separation has helped B.A.S.S .and anglers themselves.
iBass360: How is your back? Are there suggestions you can give to other anglers to strengthen the back to avoid the problems you had in 2018?
Jamie: I feel my back has returned to nearly 100%. It was definitely a battle but all seems good now. I'd hate to recommend anything to someone else because in doing research and listening to other people's back issues, it seems like everyone is different and needs different treatments.
iBass360: What does 2020 hold for Hartman fans?
Jamie: I'm not sure what's in store for 2020 yet. I take the season one tournament at a time and try to stay focused that way. But I'd love to keep this momentum train rolling in the same direction as 2019
Editor: On behalf of Misty and Kevin, iBass360 is very appreciative for Jamie's time and his insights.