More Fishing, More Focus in 2020 - Major League Fishing
More Fishing, More Focus in 2020
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More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

Spending more days on the water, more time in front of a camera has James Niggemeyer ready for the Pro Circuit season
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James Niggemeyer Photo by Jody White.
January 16, 2020 • James Niggemeyer • Angler Columns

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore.

That’s not really a bad thing, though. When you have too much downtime, you can sort of get out of rhythm, and it winds up taking a couple tournaments to shake the rust and get back to full speed.

I certainly haven’t had that issue this year. In fact, I feel like I’m ahead of schedule with my preparation thanks to some new media projects I’ve been working on and the fact that I’ve done a little more fishing this offseason than in years past. I feel like I’m ready to dive right in at the first FLW Pro Circuit event, which is coming up on Sam Rayburn.

One of the highlights of this offseason was getting to fish a few tournaments around the house. Some guys fish a lot of tournaments at home after the pro season ends. I normally don’t get that luxury. I’m usually guiding and trying to spend time with my family. But this year I fished three tournaments.

It wasn’t planned. One of the things about this career is that I don’t get to spend as much time with some of my buddies as I used to. This offseason, a couple friends called me up to see if I wanted to get together with them and do a little fishing. I was happy to, and, of course, as competitors, when we figured out there were some local events going on during the days we wanted to get together, we went ahead and jumped in.

It really lined up perfectly, and I’m glad I fished those tournaments. It helped me to kind of stay “fishing fit.”

Another thing that’s helped me get a head start this season is keeping my body in shape. I’ve been doing some light stretching and workouts this offseason. It’s a long, grueling season, and we have to endure some difficult conditions. At my age, staying physically fit is a real key. My energy level already feels better, and I think the exercise will pay off once I hit the road.

I’m ahead of schedule on some of my prep this year, too. For instance, I got my tournament boat earlier than I think I’ve ever gotten it. I’ve already loaded up a lot of my tackle, which is a huge chore that usually drags out until right when it’s time to leave for the first tournament. I’ve also started breaking in my Mercury. There’ve been years in the past when I had to break in my motor at the first practice.

Getting a jump on my boat prep is a big advantage. I’m getting to spend a little more time going over the finer things of my rigging to get everything just right. For example, I spent a little extra time on my HydroWave to make sure it’s just the way I like it. I’ve tested it, too, which means I won’t be messing with it at Rayburn. I’ll be able to focus solely on finding fish.

The other thing I’ve been doing this offseason is fishing more regularly on my own because I’m trying to develop a larger presence in the YouTube world. I’ve been filming and posting videos regularly to my channel, which you can check out here.

The YouTube stuff has been a lot of fun. I have FLW to thank for it. Last year, the FLW Tour added a rule that required pros to have a POV camera in the boat during all competition hours. I wound up with a lot of footage I could use. I also got more familiar with the camera and what to do with it, and that just snowballed into creating consistent content for YouTube and my sponsors. Now I’m posting tackle reviews, tournament advice, fishing videos and all sorts of content at least once a week.

The big advantage to filming is it gets me in my tournament routine – that mode of getting up early and getting to bed and heading out on the water with a goal and a purpose. It’s still super relaxed, but at the same time I’m trying to figure out an angle on the water that I might be able to share with everybody that’s interesting. That little bit of extra pressure and the task of needing to finish a video add something to it. I feel like it makes me more focused. And that’s a really valuable thing with just a couple weeks left until the season starts.

Overall, it’s been a fast offseason. I had a wonderful Christmas with my family. I’ve been fishing. My YouTube channel has been a lot of fun. Now it’s time to bring it all together and transition from a successful offseason to a successful tournament season.

I think I’m as ready as I’ve ever been to do just that.