Jeff Sprague has stayed busy during the break, but is ready to get back to bass fishing. Photo by Garrick Dixon
By Jeff Sprague - June 27, 2020
Keeping busy is what I do. Whether it’s at home in Texas putting up barbed wire, running my business, or fishing the MLF Bass Pro Tour, I’m just not very good at being idle. Before I fished as a pro, I worked as a police officer locally, logging 12-hour shifts, and taking as many other shifts as possible.
With the huge break in our sport due to the pandemic, some of the anglers might’ve gotten a little bored because their states made fishing pretty tough. Some fished their way through the break. But I worked.
I have a grocery distribution company – a franchise called Quality Manufacturing that I co-own with FLW angler Jason Reyes. Since COVID, the spike in our business has been unprecedented. We distribute masks, sanitizers, etc., along with other products to grocery stores. Actually, I passed on fishing the FLW Super Tournaments events because of my work; purely a business decision on my part.
I think that keeping-busy mindset has set me apart from some anglers. I love catching numbers of fish: moving around, finding more and more. I love catching big fish too, so our format is perfect for me. I’ve always had a different approach than the guys who have that five-fish mentality of grinding on them. I’ve never fished that way. I’ve always caught them.
Even back in my FLW days, I’d look to catch them while a lot of guys would grind on them and sit on a spot. But, as I get older (I’m 39), I’ve slowed down my fishing a bit and been more patient than I was before. But make no mistake, I still want to catch a lot of bass.
The MLF Bass Pro Tour points race is still within reach for me. I’m in sixth place going into the last event on Sturgeon Bay on Lake Michigan, and I’m pretty stoked to go and fish there. I’m not sure anyone knows much about the smallmouth bass fishing there during the summer months, as far as tournaments.
I do know they produce some huge smallies up there, and I think it’s cool going to that part of the country during a different time of the year. I like trying out different and known fisheries at non-traditional times of the year. I’d love to see us fish more spots that are nationally unknown but have great fishing for big bass, like the lakes in North Carolina last season or Lake Athens this year, although it didn’t fish great, and I’m still ticked off at myself for my performance there.
I’m glad we had an event before heading out to the Great Lakes. For me, it was difficult getting back to Florida. I drove 15 to 17 hours to get there, and then had two days of practice. I was out of fishing shape, muscle memory wasn’t there, and my hands were sore. I was ready to go fishing, but it was hard on me.
Once the crazy weather conditions because of the tropical storm left, the fish scattered. It was Florida fishing: it is what it is. Florida strain bass like the stable heat. It was awfully hot and humid. I was concerned about the health of some of my officials having to wear those masks all day.
Until Sturgeon Bay, I’ll just stay busy like always, but I can’t wait to compete there.