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Patience and Key Decisions Pay Off

By: Glenn Walker

I had the opportunity to interview 2nd place overall finisher and top finisher from Wisconsin at the 2008 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Northern Divisional tournament, Brady Farrell. Brady a Fort Atkinson resident accumulated a weight 36 lb. 15 oz. over the course of the three day tournament held out of Oshkosh on Lake Winnebago, August 13-15.

Brady fished the Divisional tournament as a non-boater because he finished 9th in the B.A.S.S. Nation Wisconsin State tournament the previous year. The top 6 finishers go as boaters and the next 6 fish as non-boaters. Non-boaters are still allowed control of the boat for half the day.

By being the top finisher for the Wisconsin team, Brady qualified to fish the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation National Championship tournament being held on Milford Lake. Milford is located in Junction City, Kansas and the event begins on November 3rd and runs to the 8th. If Brady can best the seven other Northern Divisional anglers he will qualify for the coveted Bassmaster Classic!

What was the key to your success at the Northern Divisional tournament?
I was able to catch fish in any part of the system due to information both from my practice and our team meetings. I was confident I could catch a limit, so I was able to throw some smaller fish back every morning and still come in with five at the end of the day.

All of the anglers at the tournament had to make a key decision anytime they hooked a keeper since there was no culling allowed. This mean an angler had to decide when you caught the fish if you were going to keep it or throw it back. Brady noted that he never placed his 5th fish in the livewell before noon or so, which allowed him to maximize his time to catch a kicker fish.

What do you feel set yourself apart from the other anglers at the Northern Divisional?
On the afternoon of the 2nd day, after I had my limit and was done fishing, my boater for that day was catching fish pretty quickly on an area we had fished in the morning with no success. That told me that my fish in the best areas were biting later in the day. I waited until much later in the day on the 3rd day to go to my best spot. I was rewarded with some of the larger fish I had been missing on the previous days by going there early in the morning. The strength of those afternoon fish made the difference. The confidence to wait them out is what set me apart.

How have you been preparing for the Federation Championship?
I went down pre-fishing and was pretty disappointed in the overall fishing in the lake. I mostly tried to find good areas and spots for different depth levels. There is only one day pre-fishing before the actual tournament, so I need spots at different levels because I don't really know where the fish will be in November in Kansas. I don't think there will be very many fish caught during the tournament. I have some largemouth and some smallmouth spots, some deep, some shallow, and some mid depth. I hope to get a few hits during the last pre-fishing day, and just adapt to the weather from there. I can tell you I won't hook a fish during the pre-fish day. There are not enough legals around.

Something interesting Brady noted is that unlike the bodies of water located in the Midwest, there is not much internet information on Milford Lake, so you can't do much research that way. Brady feels though that it will make it a level playing field, as no one can call their professional angler friends and get inside information.

Do you feel this is your greatest accomplishment as a tournament angler?
Brady has been competing in bass tournaments now for 18 years and does feel that is his greatest angling accomplishment. This was my 6th time at Divisional's and I always seem to have one bad day. I was able to survive my 2nd day with a smaller limit and put what I had learned from the 2nd day into a final day strategy that put me over the top. It is difficult to make the Divisional team, so the number of chances to go to Nationals is already limited. Then you have to beat the other very talented anglers on your team to make it through.

What tournament plans do you have for 2009?
I will fish both Federations, although I wish there was only one! I am going to fish the BFLs for the first time in many years. I was fishing the Weekend Series, but they have turned into a Mississippi River only Series, so I am making the switch. I will fish the Sturgeon Bay Open and a couple local events if I have some open weekends. I may fish a partner tournament circuit if the schedule works out, but it usually doesn't.

Has the thought of ever turning pro crossed your mind?
I have thought about it, but I have a good job that I don't want to give up. I am curious how I would stack up more than anything. I just don't have the vacation time to find out. I also don't have the salesman type personality to get the sponsorship support you need to really make it on the pro level.

What do you feel are your strengths as an angler and your weaknesses?
I think one of my strengths is reacting to what the fish are telling you. If I can get something going, I can usually make it pay off. I think about how to make fish bite continuously. I am also fairly well rounded and feel comfortable with flipping, pitching, swimming, finesse, and cranking. I try not to have a favorite and let the fish decide what they like.

I think my weakness is getting frustrated in tournaments when I think I have the mother lode and something has changed to make them not bite. I tend to get nervous when the fish don't react how I expect them to, and then I go to other similar spots where they were doing the same thing. Of course, that whole pattern is off that day, and I need to switch patterns completely. Sometimes I'm better of not having what I think is the winning pattern, because I will die trying to make it work.

Who do you credit for helping you get where you are today as an angler?
I think one of the most powerful ways to learn is by being on a State Team. It is a powerful combination when you get 12 great anglers trying to help each other unlock a pattern or patterns on a particular body of water for a week. I don't know any other format where you sit for three hours a night for a week and decide how to catch fish on a particular body of water. Spots, patterns, techniques, baits, everything you need to know. Everyone, with a few exceptions, is very forthcoming about what they are doing and where. The sharing is why Wisconsin teams do very well in Divisional formats. I was almost (not quite) as happy Wisconsin won the boat for 1st place as with finishing first on the team.

I have known Brady for several years now and have learned many things from Brady, just by listening to him after a night of fishing on the Madison Chain of Lakes. Brady, I thank you for your time and wish you the best of luck at the National Championship! I know the whole state of Wisconsin will be rooting you on.