Best of the Bassmen
the ocean." He made it back to the dock, but because of the heavy water was late for the weigh-in and didn't place in the tournament. He isn't as daring now as he was as a young buck. Recently in an Alabama tournament, he opted to fish sheltered from the wind even though he knew a windswept area held bass. Sure enough, the anglers who fished the windy spot caught more fish.
Aside from wind, lightning and other foul weather phenomena, submerged logs and other debris also can be a hazard.
But travel remains the most wearing part. "When I first started, it was interesting because I was going to new parts of the country and new lakes, but now we've been almost everywhere and the highways are crowded. Traveling is not as much fun, but fishing is--in fact some places the fishing is better now than it was then."
Brauer thinks that's because of better fisheries management and the increased emphasis on catch-and-release. He doesn't keep bass, but has no quarrel with someone who wants to keep a bass for eating or, in the case of a trophy, to mount on a wall.
Brauer is seeing more youngsters at his seminars. "They now want to become professionals," he says. He advises any youngster interested in becoming a professional angler to go for it. "I never tell these youngsters that they can't. I started with nothing. It's never money that separates people from having success. It's willpower and determination. I look in some of these youngster's eyes and what I see is that they're going to be successful."
You look in Denny Brauer's eyes, slightly reddened from wind and water and sun, and you see a faint fire that does not bode well either for bass or for his fellow competitors. He figures if that Jordan guy and his team could repeat as world champs in basketball three times, a "threepeat," why not a pro angler.
He's a third of the way there.
Denny Brauer's favorite type of fishing is "flippin'," the technique of pitching a lure into a small hole in heavy cover--weeds or brush. He favors jigs (he designed the Strike King Pro Model jig). "It's the number one selling bait all across the country," he says. "But there are times they don't bite it, so I'll go to a tube in natural color or a spinner in white or chartreuse." The lures have weed guards--of course, designed by Brauer--to minimize hanging up in vegetation or brush.
Water clarity determines color and size--three-eighths ounce most of the time or half-ounce in thick vegetation or when fishing deep. In clear water, he chooses brown and other natural colors. If water is stained, he goes to black and blue. "If an angler is indecisive, I always tell him to put on black and blue because it'll catch fish in all conditions."
He tips his jigs and tubes with a small pork trailer in cold weather and a divided pork trailer in warm weather. He lets the lure settle to the bottom, then retrieves it with a jigging motion, the speed of which is determined by water clarity and temperature.
He usually uses a long rod--7 1/2-feet--that he designed himself and a bait casting reel, with 25- or 30-pound test monofilament with the lure tied directly to the line. The secret, he says, is to get a bass out of the heavy cover, thus the stout line.
Regardless of experience or equipment, there are times when bass simply sulk, but if Brauer had to pick the ideal day, he has it defined: "You get a warm spring day in late April or early May, water temperature moving up to 70 degrees, 5 degrees either way, 80 degree air temperature, little bit of wind, cloudy and muggy with a front moving in . . . you'd better hang on!"